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The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperityby Jeffrey Sachs
Synopses & Reviews
For more than three decades, Jeffrey D. Sachs has been at the forefront of international economic problem solving. But Sachs turns his attention back home in The Price of Civilization, a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity.
As he has done in dozens of countries around the world in the midst of economic crises, Sachs turns his unique diagnostic skills to what ails the American economy. He finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities.
Yet Sachs goes deeper than an economic diagnosis. By taking a broad, holistic approach—looking at domestic politics, geopolitics, social psychology, and the natural environment as well—Sachs reveals the larger fissures underlying our country’s current crisis. He shows how Washington has consistently failed to address America’s economic needs. He describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. He also looks at the crisis in our culture, in which an overstimulated and consumption-driven populace in a ferocious quest for wealth now suffers shortfalls of social trust, honesty, and compassion.
Finally, Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another. Most important, he bids each of us to accept the price of civilization, so that together we can restore America to its great promise.
The Price of Civilization is a masterly road map for prosperity, founded on America’s deepest values and on a rigorous understanding of the twenty-first-century world economy.
"Best known for advising postcommunist and impoverished countries on development strategies, economist Sachs (Common Wealth) takes on the cesspool of debt, backwardness, and corruption that is the United States in this hard-hitting brief for a humane economy. Sachs surveys an America where the rich get richer and the rest grow poorer, less secure, and less prepared for a modern economy; where a fixation by both parties on cutting taxes and coddling corporate donors — Sachs issues stinging rebukes of Obama's policies — creates insupportable federal deficits and stymies critical reforms and spending programs; and where an electorate stupefied by mass media and advertising ignores its better instincts and pursues a mindless consumerism. The author's straightforward exposition, buttressed by a wealth of revealing tables and charts, sharply rebuts reigning free market orthodoxies and makes a compelling case for an activist state that redistributes wealth and makes life fairer and more productive for everyone. Sachs's remedies are less focused than his critique, and his pinning of all hope on the 15- to 29-year-old 'Millennial Generation,' aka 'the children of the Internet,' feels naÃ¯ve and ageist. Still, his stimulating, staunchly progressive take on America's dysfunctions is a must-read for every concerned citizen. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
Veteran macro-economist Sachs directs the Earth Institute at Columbia University and has served as a special adviser to the United Nations. In this book for general readers, he uses the concept of 'clinical economics,' which he coined and developed in his book The End of Poverty, to diagnose America's current economic crisis. Sachs argues that we are not facing a short-term business cycle downturn, but the working out of long-term social, political, and economic trends perpetuated by both political parties (although the author notes that the process of undermining the government's capacity to steer the economy began with the Reagan administration). Sachs gives ideas for deep reform of America's political and economic institutions, such as ending the corporatocracy, banning campaign contributions from lobbying firms, and decentralizing government. He also recommends that we as citizens embrace moderation and develop compassion for others. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
One of the world’s most brilliant economists and the bestselling author of The End of Poverty and Common Wealth, Jeffrey Sachs has written a new book that is essential reading for every American. The Price of Civilization is the blueprint for America’s economic recovery. It is also the story of how America can and must restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity.
As he has done in dozens of countries around the world in the midst of economic crisis, Sachs turns his unique diagnostic skills to what ails the American economy. He finds that both political parties have missed the big picture: how globalization has reshaped economic life in America and around the world, thereby posing profound and largely unmet challenges for jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s biggest single economic failure, Sachs argues, is its failure to come to grips with the new global economic realities.
Yet Sachs goes deeper than an economic diagnosis, by asking why it is that Washington has consistently failed to address America’s economic needs. He describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. Washington, Sachs argues persuasively, has stopped representing the people and instead has turned the levers of power over to the corporate sector. Both parties are implicated, so that Washington lurches from one disappointing administration to the next, irrespective of party.
Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around, to rebuild America’s economy and politics. He argues persuasively that the problem is not with America’s abiding values, which remain generous, pragmatic, and optimistic, but with the ease with which PR and political spin run circles around those values. He bids the reader to accept the price of civilization—the responsibility to put into practice the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another—so that together we may restore America to its great promise.
The Price of Civilization is a masterly road map to prosperity, founded on America’s deepest values and on a rigorous understanding of the twenty-first-century world economy.
About the Author
Jeffrey Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. He is internationally renowned for his contributions to solving some of the world’s most daunting economic and social crises, in his roles as a leading scholar and as an economic adviser to governments and international organizations around the world.
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