Everything for Sale: The Virtues and Limits of Marketsby Robert Kuttner
Robert Kuttner's quarrel, in this provocative and illuminating book, is not with capitalism per se or with a broad role for market forces: "Consumption is doubtless pleasurable," he writes, "and no one minds a high material standard of living." His dispute is rather with the current libertarian or laissez-faire direction of both economic practice and economic theory… See more details below
Robert Kuttner's quarrel, in this provocative and illuminating book, is not with capitalism per se or with a broad role for market forces: "Consumption is doubtless pleasurable," he writes, "and no one minds a high material standard of living." His dispute is rather with the current libertarian or laissez-faire direction of both economic practice and economic theory that has been gradually gaining in prominence since the mid-197Os. Champions of this approach extol the unfettered marketplace and trust in its ability to increase wealth, promote innovation, and "optimize outcomes" - and to regulate itself flawlessly all the while. In Everything for Sale, Kuttner makes a powerful case for the mixed economy, in which government steps in to override markets for a variety of reasons: to stabilize monetary forces, to promote growth, to temper inequalities, to cultivate civic virtues. It is the system that, Kuttner contends, holds the greatest hope for a flourishing twenty-first century. His concrete observations and clear analyses, purged of jargon, address themselves to every layperson, businessperson, policy-maker, and open-minded economist in America.
Los Angeles Times
In his three-part audit, Business Week columnist Kuttner first provides an overview that effectively damns markets with faint praise. For instance, while commending their role in facilitating commerce, setting prices for goods and services, and allocating resources, he cites a lengthy list of instances in which markets fail to measure up. By way of example, the author notes that there is no good market reason for free public libraries, which most polities rightly value. Sniping away at utopian ideologues who view the market as a panacea for whatever ails society, Kuttner reviews the putative shortcomings of labor, health-care, and capital markets, arguing that intervention is required to avert the sometimes calamitous or undesirable results of overly free enterprise. He does not face up to such unpleasant matters as the fact that the burden of government-mandated benefits has stalled job growth in the European Union, whose mixed economy he much admires. In like vein, the author offers kind words for Japan's bureaucratically guided approach to capitalism without dwelling on that nation's consumers, who are obliged to pay artificially high prices at retail as a result of the system. By contrast, Kuttner includes a wealth of scenarios spelling out ways in which prosperity might be advanced by riding closer herd on competition in any number of private-sector industries (airlines, electric utilities, telecommunications, et al.), giving federal regulatory agencies appreciably greater powers, and implementing economic/trade policies that could enhance the common weal.
A "yes . . . but" analysis that accentuates the negative aspects of laissez-faire and promotes a decidedly progressive political/socioeconomic agenda. The text has a notably belligerent foreword by Richard C . Leone, president of the Twentieth Century Fund
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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- Edition description:
- 1 ED
- Product dimensions:
- 6.61(w) x 9.61(h) x 1.39(d)
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