Synopses & Reviews
Is labors day over or is labor the only real answer for our time? In his new book, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan argues that even as organized labor seems to be crumbling, a revivedbut differentlabor movement is the only way to stabilize the economy and save the middle class.
But the inequality now reshaping the country goes beyond money and income: the places we work have become ever more rigid hierarchies. Geoghegan makes his argument for labor with stories, sometimes humorous but more often chilling, about the problems working people like his own clientsfrom cabdrivers to schoolteachersnow face, increasingly powerless in our union-free economy. He explains why a new kind of labor movement (and not just more higher education) is the real program the Democrats should pushnot just to save the middle class from bankruptcy but to revive Keyness original and sometimes forgotten ideas for getting the rich to invest and reducing our balance of trade, and to promote John Deweys vision of a democratic way of life,” one that would start in the schools and continue in our places of work.
A public policy” book that is compulsively readable, Only One Thing Can Save Us is vintage Geoghegan, blending acerbic, witty commentary with unparalleled insight into the real dynamics (and human experience) of working in America today.
Praise for Thomas Geoghegan's previous books:
"Which Side Are You On? is one of the finest nonfiction books by a contemporary author Ive ever read. Its incredibly informative, frequently moving, loaded with fresh insights, and often laugh-out-loud funny. A delightful book about the labor movement: it sounds like an oxymoron, but in Geoghegans case its an accomplishment."
—Hendrik Hertzberg, NewYorker.com
"Most diverting…[Geoghegan] has the great virtue of being witty and ironic—and to the point…A necessary primer."
—Jurek Martin, Financial Times
"Clever and immensely appealing."
—Katha Pollitt, The Nation
"Quirky, brilliant…Inspiring…unparalleled in the literature of American labor."
—The New York Times
"A brilliant book."
—The Washington Post
"So skillfully written, so witty—and so scathing—that it seems bound to grip even those who find the labor movement boring."
Is labors day over or is this the big moment? Is it the logical next step beyond Occupy Wall Street or is it just a dead end? In his new book, labor lawyer and acclaimed author Tom Geoghegan argues that only a new kind of labor movement can get the country out of debt—private debt, government debt, and most of all trade debt. We need a revived labor movement not only to stop the drop in wages, health insurance, and pensions of the past thirty years (as well as defend teachers from an onslaught of unfair criticism), but also to promote the kind of restructuring that will make the American economy more competitive, such as real limits on returns to our bloated financial sector; pushing for government assumption of nonwage labor costs, such as health care and pensions; and a new model of corporate governance, in which CEOs and managers have some accountability to workers.
Drawing on his multi-decade career as a labor lawyer, Geoghegan offers an incisive analysis of our present-day woes and argues that we simply cannot rebuild on the same fault lines of inequality, cheap credit, and massive trade deficits. Labor must transform itself, too; no longer essentially adversarial, it should embody the possibility of cooperative or collective action that represents the best of American individualism. This is a sorely needed call to arms with substantive policy prescriptions, written in Geoghegans winning, humorous style.
About the Author
is a practicing labor lawyer and the author of several books, including See You in Court; In Americas Court;
the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Which Side Are You On?
; and, most recently, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?
(all available from The New Press). He has written for The Nation
, the New York Times
, and Harpers Magazine
. He lives in Chicago.