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One of BusinessWeek's Top 10 Business Books of 2002
From one of America’s most prominent economic commentators and The New York Times bestselling author of The Politics of Rich and Poor, this timely mixture of history and forecast provides a well-documented warning that the coupling of financial wealth and political power may lead to our nation’s downfall.
Arguing that America’s 21st century wealth is taking away from, rather than contributing to, our democratic process, Phillips explores how the government and America’s rich have supported each other to create and maintain an exclusive American upper class. He goes on to look at the corruption born of financial power (tax favoritism and selective bailouts), as well as current symptoms that have signaled trouble for other economic powers and now threaten to affect the United States (mounting international debt, record wealth, and income polarization).
A bold forecast for the future of America, Wealth and Democracy is essential reading for students of politics, economics, sociology, and history of class structure in the United States.
"With a grand historical sweep that covers more than three centuries, Phillips's astute analysis of the effects of wealth and capital upon democracy is both eye-opening and disturbing. While his main thrust is an examination of the 'increasing reliance of the American economy on finance', Phillips weaves a far wider, nuanced tapestry. Carefully building his own arguments with telling detail...and statistical evidence, he charts a long, exceptionally complicated history of interplay between governance and the accumulation of wealth....Lucidly written, scrupulously argued and culturally wide-ranging, this is an important and deeply original analysis of U.S. history and economics."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Table of Contents:
Preface to the Paperback Edition; Introduction; Part I. The Great Waves of American Wealth; 1. The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: From Privateersmen to Robber Barons; 2. Serious Money: The Three Twentieth-Century Wealth Explosions; 3. Millennial Plutographics: American Fortunes and Misfortunes at the Turn of the Century; Part II. The Origins, Evolutions, and Engines of Wealth: Government, Global Leadership, and Technology; 4. The World Is Our Oyster: The Transformation of Leading World Economic Powers; 5. Friends in High Places: Government, Political Influence, and Wealth; 6. Technology and the Uncertain Foundations of Anglo-American Wealth; Part III. Wealth and Democracy: The Rhythm of Politics and Confrontation; 7. Wealth and Politics in the United States; 8. Wealth, Money-Culture Ethics, and Corruption; 9. The Cup Always Runneth Over: Greed, Speculative Bubbles, and Corruption; 10. Great Economic Power Decline and the Politics of Resentment; Part IV. Title; Afterword. Wealth and Democracy: The United States and the New Century; Endnotes; Bibliography; Index.