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In his past columns in Business Week, and in his present writings for The Boston Globe and The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner has established himself as a fresh thinker who is deeply concerned about how our economy, run by and for elites, leaves our society less equal and less democratic, but also more vulnerable to systemic shocks and risks. He contrasts the present laissez-faire system with the managed capitalism of the post-World War II era, which resulted in a series of boom decades. While four out of five Americans are doing less well than 35 years ago, the top 10 percent is flourishing.
Kuttner shows how deregulation has become the dominant cause of the financial elites; how democratic checks on these elites weakened in the 1980s; how globalization makes managed capitalism more difficult; why the costs of entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, have straightforward remedies, despite scare tactics to the contrary; why a structural trade deficit leaves us forwardly dependent on foreign banks, which now hold 60% of Treasury securities, up from 20% in the mid-90s.
This is an articulate jeremiad that is bound to upset the political and financial leaders of both parties. It is very tough on the greed of Wall Street and its narrow vision of what makes the economy run. But it is a book that will be praised and debated and challenged in the years to come.
“The strength of Kuttner’s latest effort is that, with seven years' distance from the Clinton era, his arguments now look emphatically right.”—Noam Scheiber, The New York Times Book Review
“Kuttner has written a very important book.” —Alexander Zaitchik, The San Francisco Chronicle
“A scathing broadside aimed at the failures of laissez-faire American capitalism . . . Kuttner’s unique talent is in cutting through the knee-jerk assumptions that have become orthodoxy in American policy debates.” —Kirkus
“If I could assign one book to all the presidential candidates it would be this one. Robert Kuttner, perhaps the most insightful economic commentator in the country, has done it again.” —Barbara Ehrenreich
“In this new and wise book Robert Kuttner walks among the wreckage strewn across the landscape by the fundamentalist ideology that took hold in Washington and says there is still hope of averting lasting economic calamity. But his message is clear: Hurry!” —Bill Moyers
“Robert Kuttner is a prophet whose time has come. This lucid, passionate, razor-sharp book carries a message as urgent as it is clarifying.” —Hendrik Hertzberg
“Ten years ago, in Everything for Sale, Robert Kuttner powerfully demonstrated the difference between respect for markets and worship of markets. His new book is just as persuasive and powerfully argued. I hope that this time we heed the warnings, rather than living through the consequences of ignoring them again.” —James Fallows, author of Blind in Baghdad
“Robert Kuttner is the intellectual guru of our country’s New Progressive Era. The Squandering of America diagnoses our government’s illnesses and tells us how to cure them.” —Senator Sherrod Brown
“The Squandering of America brilliantly explains how we once created a cooperative and equitable prosperity, how that economy was captured by a financial elite, and how to reclaim America’s economic and political future.” —William Greider, author of The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
“If you want to understand why America’s prosperity, power and prestige are under siege, read The Squandering of America. This is more than a fine book; it is an education for the tumultuous times that lie ahead.” —Jeff Faux, author of The Global Class War
“In The Squandering of America, Bob Kuttner tells the story that the financial elites and free-market ideologues would rather not be told: that broad prosperity and economic security, once the foundation of our middle-class economy, are disappearing as quickly as the polar ice caps.” —Senator Byron Dorgan
“In a time of great commotion in American politics and economics, no one connects the dots more clearly or wisely than Robert Kuttner. This is must reading for anyone who wishes to understand why they are feeling so anxious about the economy.” —Barry Bluestone, co-author, Growing Prosperity: The Battle for Growth with Equity in the 21st Century