SHRINKING DOLLARS, VANISHING JOBS: Why the Economy Isn't Working for You by Dick & Nancy Rutter Cluster

SHRINKING DOLLARS, VANISHING JOBS: Why the Economy Isn't Working for You

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An earnest but simplistic brief for socialism rather than capitalism as a systemic remedy for economic inequity. The authors, who write for Dollars & Sense, an ""alternative"" financial review, base their case on the doctrinaire premise that ""socialism offers the possibility of society's members rationally balancing various needs, whereas capitalism offers nothing but the pursuit of private accumulation through thoughtless and anti-social competition."" Not only do they ignore the prevalence of mixed economies today, they offer Cuba, land of chronic economic woe, as ""an inspiring example of the types of change that are possible."" Stateside, they assert that the federal government can manipulate the business cycle virtually at will in response to pressures from industry. ""The basic problem,"" contend Cluster and Rutter, ""is that the operation of an economy based on private profit requires recessions."" In an economy running close to full employment, they posit, wage increases tend to accelerate while productivity gains dwindle--to the detriment of corporate earnings; a slump puts the labor force in its place, and, at some subsequent point, the powers-that-be give Washington the go-ahead for a recovery. This is not, of course, a novel argument; it is pursued--to more productive and pointed purpose--by Harrington, below. He is also cognizant of the ways in which business, while damning government intercession, depends upon it. Cluster and Rutter take a narrow, deterministic view of a phenomenon which others of a socialist persuasion--Heilbroner, more even-handedly than Harrington--have placed in a large context. Similarly, the authors' charges that the imperialist powers' trade policies have produced food shortages in formerly self-sufficient Third World nations has been more fully explored elsewhere--in Lappe and Collins' Food First, for one. In their zeal to convict as well as indict home-front capitalism, Cluster and Rutter have produced a collectivist catechism of interest only to those already convinced.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1980
Publisher: Beacon