A concise, well-researched argument against the dangers of unregulated capitalism.
In this brief but informative book, Gaasvig argues that America is a democracy only in name. “When any nation evolves to the point where the government and a majority of the wealth of the nation are concentrated in the hands of less than 1 percent of the population, no longer is that nation a democracy,” he says. In the age of the Occupy movement, that view isn’t exactly novel; indeed, many of the points made here will be familiar to even apolitical readers, anchored as those arguments are in the author’s standard progressive belief that unfettered capitalism is causing a divide in this country between the haves and the have-nots—a division, the author says, that is both morally and economically suspect. What makes this book unique, however, is its orderly, educational tone. In what amounts to a clear-cut guide to social democracy, Gaasvig makes both economically and politically based suggestions for how to rectify the situation. As for the former, he recommends a range of initiatives, from publically funded child care to nearly guaranteed employment to what he calls a “three-party economic partnership” among capitalists, workers and the government. Politically, he suggests disbanding the Electoral College system and imposing term limits on members of Congress, among many other ideas. He also writes eloquently about voting and education. Critics may accuse Gaasvig of touting pipe dreams, but he clearly knows his stuff. With even the most idealistic of his ideas—say, the implementation of full employment with livings wages and benefits—he actively addresses opposing views in a controlled, logical way. And he is not unaware of the task ahead, particularly when it comes to inspiring the masses to be involved in the process. However, it’s debatable whether the book will appeal to the American “majority” he references throughout, since this fairly erudite work can at times be a repetitive read. Nevertheless, for students of political and economic theory, it will serve as a factual, well-composed dissection of an extremely important topic.
A handy guide to the uses and abuses of capitalism.