Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Robert B. Reich

Robert B. Reich is professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life.

From a Q & A at the publisher's website:

Q: What exactly is Supercapitalism?

A: It’s a turbo-charged, Web-based system in which anyone can buy almost anything anywhere on the planet. It’s powered by consumers and investors who search for great deals around the world with the click of a computer mouse. As a result, companies are in more intense competition than ever to attract and keep customers and shareholders.

Q: So it’s good, right?

A: Well, consumers and investors have never had it so good. Just look at how plentiful our choices have become over the past few decades. There used to be only three big auto companies, one telephone company, three tv channels, and one or two local savings banks, for example. And many products have become cheaper in real terms, with lots of innovations. Medical technology has made huge advances, and the average life span has increased dramatically. Look also at how the stock market has soared — the Dow went from 600 in 1980 to over 1300 today.

Q: Any downsides to supercapitalism?

A: You bet. Inequality hasn’t been this wide in 80 years. Jobs are far less stable, and the median wage is below where it was in 1980, adjusted for inflation. Main Streets are disappearing. And our planet’s environment is endangered.
Read the full Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue