Synopses & Reviews
In his acclaimed 2006 book, The Global Class War
, economist Jeff Faux predicted a major financial catastrophe in the next few years. Sometimes, one would rather be wrong.
In The Servant Economy, Faux surveys the wreckage and asks: Where do we go from here? The economy may recover from the financial crash, but the historic and geographic cushions that have kept Americans prosperous are deflated. The United States can no longer support the dreams of Wall Street for boundless speculative wealth, the military-industrial complex for global hegemony, and the middle class for rising living standards. One of these dreams? Certainly. Two? Perhaps. But not all three.
Republicans and Democrats brawl in public, but, in effect, they have already cut a deal: the middle-class dream will be sacrificed. Even with a cyclical economic recovery, the average American will face substantially lower income, less opportunity, and hardening class lines by the mid-2020s. As high-paying service jobs follow industrial jobs offshore and government safety nets are systematically dismantled, more and more Americans will scratch for a living as educated twenty-first-century servantsinsecure and stripped of dignity.
Yet both the electorate and the elected are in denial. Americans tell pollsters the country may be in decline, but that they personally will be okay. Politicians perpetuate the myth that Americans' exceptional can-do spirit will save them from the consequences of their leaders' folly. But hope is not a strategy. "Jobs, jobs, jobs," the governing class shouts against the forces of globalization, when it really means: "Lower wages, lower wages, lower wages."
The Servant Economy takes the reader on a historical tour of the rise and fall of the idea that democratic government has a responsibility for shaping the future, shows how Barack Obama is trapped in Ronald Reagan's legacy, and delivers a savage indictment of Wall Street financiers and their Washington toadies who promote an age of austerity for the people and an age of gluttony for themselves. The book paints a brutally honest picture of what austerity will mean for twentysomethings laden with college debt who will become thirty- and fortysomethings still stuck in low-paying jobs, for the elderly who will have to work until they die, for communities where services and safety will deteriorate. It warns of a future in which military power becomes the only instrument for exerting U.S. influence in the world.
The core problem, writes Faux, is not that we don't know what to do, it is that the corruption of our politics by big money smothers any attempt at transformational change. Thus, there is no escape from the grim scenario he describesunless an aroused citizenry abolishes the system that equates money with free speech and corporations with citizens. Washington insiders scoff that such an effort is "hopeless." Even more hopeless, Faux concludes, is the notion that we can shape a better economic futureunless we do so.
Renowned economist Jeff Faux explains why neither party's leaders have a plan to remedy America's unemployment, inequality, or long economic slide
America's political and economic elite spent so long making such terrible decisions that they caused the collapse of 2008. So how can they continue down the same road? The simple answer, that no in charge one wants to publicly acknowledge: because things are still pretty great for the people who run America. It was an accident of history, Jeff Faux explains, that after World War II the U.S. could afford a prosperous middle class, a dominant military, and a booming economic elite at the same time. For the past three decades, all three have been competing, with the middle class always losing. Soon the military will decline as well.
- The most plausible projections Faux explores foresee a future economy nearly devoid of production and exports, with the most profitable industries existing to solely to serve the wealthiest 1%
- The author's last book, The Global Class War, sold over 20,000 copies by correctly predicting the permanent decline of our debt-burdened middle class at the hands of our off-shoring executives, out of control financiers, and their friends in Washington
- Since his last book, Faux is repeatedly asked what either party will do to face these mounting crises. After looking over actual policies, proposed plans, non-partisan reports, and think tank papers, his astonishing conclusion: more of the same.
Praise for The Global Class War
"You will never think about 'free trade' the same way after reading Jeff Faux's superb book. As Faux makes clear, the globalization debate is really about whose interests are served by global elites, and how we need to go about reclaiming a democracy that serves ordinary people. This book should transform public discourse in America." Robert Kuttner, founding coeditor of The American Prospect and author of Obama's Challenge
"Faux is clearly correct that the balance of power between labor and capital has shifted dramatically. Today, investment capital moves at blinding speed, while labor still must go by boat, train, and planeand that's if it's lucky." Michael Hirsh, New York Times
"A persuasive and revealing framework for understanding globalization in terms of class. It's a much-needed corrective to the way in which most news about the changing world economy is viewed, usually through a free market fundamentalist or, less frequently, a nationalist lens." David Moberg, In These Times
"Incisive, rancorous . . . with a fluid grasp of both history and economics, Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute, critiques both Democrats and Republicans for protecting transnational corporations 'while abandoning the rest of us to an unregulated, and therefore brutal and merciless, global market.'???" Publishers Weekly
"Jeff Faux's astonishing story of how class works will scandalize the best names in Wall Street and Washingtonespecially the much admired Robert Rubin, who along with other elites colluded behind the backs of ordinary citizens in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. The most cynical Americans will be shocked by the sordid details. This really is an important book." William Greider, author of Come Home, America and Secrets of the Temple
About the Author
JEFF FAUX is the founding president of and a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute. He's long written about the global economy for The American Prospect and The Nation. He is the author or coauthor of five books, including The Global Class War.
Table of Contents
Part I: The Pursuit of Folly
1. The Politics of Hope 3
2. A Brief History of America’s Cushion 21
3. The Cushion Deflates 47
4. The Age of Reagan: American Abandoned 69
Part II: What the Crash Revealed
5. Who Knew? They Knew 93
6. Obama: Stuch in the Sandpile 115
7. The Shaky Case for Optimism 143
Part III: When What We See Coming, Finally Comes
8. The Politics of Austerity 163
9. Grand Bargain? A Done Dea 185
10. Flickering Hope: Schools, Trade Winds, and the Bubble’s Return 201
11. From Service to Servitude 223
12. Hope, from the Ashes of No Hope 247