Book Review: Aftershock, by Robert Reich


Knowing that Dr. Reich was Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, and seeing that the book was ‘only’ 174 pages long (including the index), I decided to give it a go. Read a page or 2, and see if I could get into it.  I mean, really, a book subtitled:  The Next Economy and America’s Future.  Do I really  want to  read economic philosophy?

Published in 2010, it is an amazingly easy read.  Reich really makes our economic history, and what governments are really capable of doing, clear.

Aren’t we all sick and tired of hearing politicians boast about how they will create jobs?  I am doubly sick of  people who were entrepreneurs, and who should know better, boast that they know how to create jobs.

Before I had much of an education, I met a Tanzanian man studying economics here in the USA, and I asked him what he found most interesting about the USA:  “The size of your economy,” he told me.

I had to think about that, but it’s true.  compared to a lot of countries (I was told the whole operating budget for Northwestern University was larger than the government of Tanzania!), we can absorb more shocks.

I have blogged about what a mess we are in several times, and in this book, Reich has the stats and history to bear out what I am saying.  He’s no communist,    but a Keynesian, and a true one, with the facts to back himself up.

The fact of the matter is, I am an anarchist.  I believe in small governments . But infrastructure does not pay for itself.  We can all scoff at Karl Marx, who was a lazy ass  supported by his father in law, but considering that he was the first to point out that, in an industrialized economy, the playing field was not level, we owe him a lot—if only for putting his ideas out there.

Unfortunately, most Americans have what Marx called a false consciousness , identifying with people who do not have their best economic interests at heart.  They’ve convinced a bunch of people to join the military and die for their interests, convincing them that they are really putting their lives on the line for ‘freedom’—and that is not so.

I haven’t read it in 30 years, but I remember being impressed by John Kenneth Galbraith’s  The New Industrial State as well, although it is not as easy a read as Reich’s book.

I hope you will check this out, & then nag out elected officials in Washington to  start taxing the rich more. That’s where the money is, and they won’t miss it…. and as Reich points out, as the middle class can no longer  afford to buy the things we produce (or now—that those overseas produce), we will never climb out of this hole. So much for freedom.

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