Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class

Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class

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by Jeff Faux, David Faber
     
 

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In his acclaimed 2006 book, The Global Class War, economist Jeff Faux predicted a major financial catastrophe in the next few years. Sometimes, one would rather be wrong.

In The Servant Economy, Faux surveys the wreckage and asks: Where do we go from here? The economy may recover from the financial crash, but the historic and geographic cushions

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Overview

In his acclaimed 2006 book, The Global Class War, economist Jeff Faux predicted a major financial catastrophe in the next few years. Sometimes, one would rather be wrong.

In The Servant Economy, Faux surveys the wreckage and asks: Where do we go from here? The economy may recover from the financial crash, but the historic and geographic cushions that have kept Americans prosperous are deflated. The United States can no longer support the dreams of Wall Street for boundless speculative wealth, the military-industrial complex for global hegemony, and the middle class for rising living standards. One of these dreams? Certainly. Two? Perhaps. But not all three.

Republicans and Democrats brawl in public, but, in effect, they have already cut a deal: the middle-class dream will be sacrificed. Even with a cyclical economic recovery, the average American will face substantially lower income, less opportunity, and hardening class lines by the mid-2020s. As high-paying service jobs follow industrial jobs offshore and government safety nets are systematically dismantled, more and more Americans will scratch for a living as educated twenty-first-century servants—insecure and stripped of dignity.

Yet both the electorate and the elected are in denial. Americans tell pollsters the country may be in decline, but that they personally will be okay. Politicians perpetuate the myth that Americans' exceptional can-do spirit will save them from the consequences of their leaders' folly. But hope is not a strategy. "Jobs, jobs, jobs," the governing class shouts against the forces of globalization, when it really means: "Lower wages, lower wages, lower wages."

The Servant Economy takes the reader on a historical tour of the rise and fall of the idea that democratic government has a responsibility for shaping the future, shows how Barack Obama is trapped in Ronald Reagan's legacy, and delivers a savage indictment of Wall Street financiers and their Washington toadies who promote an age of austerity for the people and an age of gluttony for themselves. The book paints a brutally honest picture of what austerity will mean for twentysomethings laden with college debt who will become thirty- and fortysomethings still stuck in low-paying jobs, for the elderly who will have to work until they die, for communities where services and safety will deteriorate. It warns of a future in which military power becomes the only instrument for exerting U.S. influence in the world.

The core problem, writes Faux, is not that we don't know what to do, it is that the corruption of our politics by big money smothers any attempt at transformational change. Thus, there is no escape from the grim scenario he describes—unless an aroused citizenry abolishes the system that equates money with free speech and corporations with citizens. Washington insiders scoff that such an effort is "hopeless." Even more hopeless, Faux concludes, is the notion that we can shape a better economic future—unless we do so.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Economist Faux (coauthor of The Global Class War) records the decline of the American middle class and the inability of either political party to arrest it. This pessimistic but insightful book reviews U.S. economic history and the recent flattening of incomes and expanding debt leading to the Great Recession of 2008 from a leftist perspective. Faux dissects the role of bankers, real estate lobbies, and government policies in creating the disaster, fingering both the Clinton and Bush administrations’ loose oversight of Wall Street and responsibility in the housing debacle. As Faux sharply observes, employee evaluation is more subjective in a service economy, a fact that gives bosses increased power to control and subjugate workers, leading to a “servant economy.” But Faux’s guiding lights show their age. Barbara Tuchman’s decades-old warnings on public folly are dated and mundane. Using Howard Zinn to frame American history, Faux concocts an oppressive but nebulous elite. Channeling Karl Marx, he suggests that business-oriented intellectuals and U.S. corporate leaders seek a permanent army of the unemployed to keep wages low and employees docile. Faux deplores the corrupting impact of big money on government and the gap between the governing class and the American middle class. His unpersuasive solution is a constitutional amendment prohibiting corporations the rights of persons and mandating “hard limits on campaign spending.” Agent: Gail Ross. (July)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470182390
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
07/03/2012
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
938,055
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

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