I just finished reading Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future by Robert Reich.
When the nation’s economy foundered in 2008, blame was directed almost universally at Wall Street. But Robert B. Reich suggests a different reason for the meltdown, and for a perilous road ahead. He argues that the real problem is structural: it lies in the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top, and in a middle class that has had to go deeply into debt to maintain a decent standard of living.
It was a relatively short book, but it makes up for that in content. Reich has a lovely writing style, which is probably why the book is shorter than people probably would advise it. He doesn’t mince words, he doesn’t go onto irrelevant tangents or drag out the explanation. He’s concise and clear, and it’s a breath of fresh air. I could contrast his writing style with the first book I read this year, The Terror Dream by Susan Faludi, who dragged out the point to the brink of exhaustion. To the point that you almost stopped caring about her point and just wanted her to stop talking. She could use some tips from Reich.
I also really loved his clear structure. He wasn’t dancing around from random point to random point. He took on the problems of the economy chronologically, starting with a comparison of the Great Recession to the Great Depression, what their similarities in conditions and solutions/outcomes were, as well as differences. He then goes on to explain based on that, what the major problem is this time around, how we’ve tried to go about solving it, and why these ways don’t work. Finally he talks about the possible outcome if we continue on the road we’re on, and then some advice based on what worked last time to cause the Great Prosperity and how good we can turn out if we follow said advice.
It seemed at the end idealistic, but Reich seemed to do his research and gave clear ways that each of his recommendations could work. He served as Secretary of Labor for the first Clinton administration and is currently Chancellor Professor at UC Berkeley, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about.
I very passionately recommend Aftershock to anyone interested in the US economy. This is probably the first non-fiction work this year that I’ve really really gotten a lot out of (though I’ve pretty much enjoyed them all).