by Larry Wiener
In The Future of Success, economist and former secretary of labor, Robert B. Reich, chronicles the new economy with great insight and helps readers to understand it. Read Larry's overview of this economic page turner which was published in 2001, several years BEFORE the Great Recession.
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It’s a new economic world out there. The organization man of the 1950's was loyal to his corporation and his corporation is loyal to him. Now we become consultants after we are downsized and land a new job once we find a new niche. Many of us do more shopping online than in line and we go to closeout stores, dollar stores, and all kinds of other stores looking for deals.
Reich's book reads well and is extremely thoroughly documented with examples from academia, his own personal experience, and the experiences of people he knows. He explains the changes that are affecting our economic and work life readably and with authority. His book stimulates thought while it amuses.
This is the first time that I have ever called a book on economics a page turner.
To give you an idea on what to expect, here are the chapter titles along with a brief comment on each:
The Age of the Terrific Deal Gone
The idea of a retail price. The options both online and in line allow us to shop for tremendous prices if we have the tenacity and the knowhow.
The Spirit of Innovation Things
Change at a blinding pace and we have to adapt with them.
Of Geeks and Shrinks
In this chapter, Reich describes two types of workers that will always be in demand, “geeks”, people who can develop new concepts, and “shrinks”, people who are in tune with what the public wants and can sell the idea of the geeks.
The Obsolescence of Loyalty
We used to be loyal to our employers and came to expect loyalty from them. No more. We also used to be loyal to the downtown merchants, but now if Wal Mart has a better deal, we flock to it.
The End of Employment as We Know It
While most of us were organization men and women, now we go through many phases of work. The ties are a lot looser.
The Lure of Hard Work More
And more of us are compelled to work harder for a variety of reasons. We have surpassed the Japanese in hours worked. This chapter explains why.
The Sale of the Self
During the organization man days, we were to be part of a team and not too self-promoting. Now we have to brand ourselves.
The Incredibly Shrinking Family
We have smaller families and we are spending less time with them. We subcontract out many family functions.
Paying for Attention
With more time spent working, less time with families, and less community stability, we are spending more on coaches, trainers, therapists, and other hired guns to take care of us.
The Community as Commodity
While the community used to be those in our town, now the community is often whoever can do something for us.
Here Reich gives some thoughts on how to handle the choices and tradeoffs of the new economy.
Here you see the policy side of Reich. He suggests some public policy considerations that he feels are appropriate for the new economy.
After reading this book and the many articles I have read on the new economy, I’m not sure how much I like (the new economy). I love getting good prices online and at closeout stores like Marshall’s and Dollar Tree, but I’m not so sure I like all the insecurity the new economy has.
The social changes brought on by the new economy have boosted productivity, but we have paid some serious prices for that boost when you consider the disintegration of community, the stress level, and so many other costs. Reich really helps readers see that relationship.
As a citizen, I am concerned about the bipolar aspect of the new economy with haves and have-nots growing farther apart with fewer in the middle. I am bothered to see the new economy selecting against such virtues as loyalty, altruism, and community. Of course the new economy can change directions as quickly as it came upon us.
I know, however, that I need to understand the new economy to find my place in it and use it to my advantage. Professor Reich has explained the times very well.
This book is a tremendous asset in understanding the often confusing times we live in.
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Copyright © 2001 by Larry Wiener. All rights reserved.