The Conflicted Consumer

The following is an excerpt from Robert Reich’s new book Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life.

Of Two Minds

In recent years, the cheerleaders of American capitalism — denizens of Wall Street, lobbyists on Washington’s K Street, the inhabitants of top executive suites and New York penthouses, most Republicans, many economists, editorial writers for the Wall Street Journal, free-marketeers around the world — have had difficulty containing their enthusiasm about the economy. America’s gross national product has virtually tripled since the 1970s! The Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen from 1,000 to over 13,000 today! Behold the wondrous innovations and inventions, and the plethora of new products and services! The cheerleaders disdain what they consider to be constraints on further capitalist exuberance — taxes and regulations, labor unions, “Old Europe’s” inefficiencies, anything that retards consumer well-being and investor gain.

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