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Extended Audio Sample Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life Audiobook, by Robert B. Reich Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (797 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert B. Reich Narrator: Dick Hill Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2007 ISBN: 9781400174614
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Since the 1970s, and notwithstanding three recessions, the US economy has soared. Consumers have been treated to a vast array of new products, while the prices of standard goods and services have declined. Companies have also become far more efficient and the stock market has surged. In short, American capitalism has been a triumph, and it has spread throughout the world.

At the same time, argues former secretary of labor Robert B. Reich, the effectiveness of democracy in America has declined. It has grown less responsive to the citizenry, and people are feeling more and more helpless as a result. In Supercapitalism, Reich discusses how capitalism has spilled over into politics, how it threatens democracy, and how citizens both benefit from and lose out because of supercapitalism.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A grand debunking of the conventional wisdom…The main thrust of Reich’s argument is right on target…Reich documents in lurid detail the explosive growth of corporate lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions since the 1970s.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An engaging and insightful account.”

    Harvard Business Review

  • Supercapitalism is not a polemic or a call to arms. Reich is merely trying to dent capitalism’s rock-star status while suggesting to a dazed citizenry that, as Shakespeare said of Caesar’s Rome, the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 2/13/2014

    " Reich might be a better writer than economist. He's not exactly breaking news here, but I found this really compelling, particularly how he frames the key tension in the U.S. economy as an internal struggle between ourselves as consumers and (especially) investors, and our same selves as citizens, workers, and members of communities. Discussions that center on the idea of a split between the haves and have-nots miss this point; many Americans are on both sides of the divide. I'm not sure his policy solutions have legs, but I hope his language becomes part of the national discussion about the economy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Russell | 2/13/2014

    " Robert Reich is one of the most balanced and reasonable politicos I know of. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Simon | 2/12/2014

    " Brent was right it really thinks about the right view of business. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jens | 2/7/2014

    " I picked this up on a whim... I like Reich's writing even though I don't always agree with him. Unsurprisingly, this is a well-written book, but it seems a little under-cooked to me. His thesis is that the global shift from one mode of capitalism to another (democratic capitalism to "supercapitalism") since the 1970s is essentially caused by structural or technological developments rather than political or moral movements. New technologies have empowered us as consumers and investors, which has inadvertently weakened us as citizens and wage-earners. The intense pressure applied to corporate management under "supercapitalism" to increase their profits or be replaced means that they have become entirely amoral. It has also weakened democracy and wage stability/security by the systematic application of corporate power on "democratic" law-making. To Reich, any talk of socially-responsible for-profit corporations is a distraction from addressing the core problem of legally re-empowering citizens and wage-earners and protecting democracy from the natural (not conspiratorial or nefarious) spill-over of the collective corporate influence under "supercapitalism." This all makes a fair amount of sense to me, although, as always, I want to assert at times that "it's more complicated than that." My key complaint is that his solutions would often increase collective corporate influence as much as they would decrease it... and some of them are non-sensical. This is where it gets undercooked. Want to kill of the corporate income tax and replace it with a tax on earnings assessed as personal income of the shareholders as it is done with S-Corporations? Guess what... most people won't understand what the hell you're talking about, corporations will seize the simple part (end corporate taxes) and they'll lose a fetter on their influence. Want to end people's complaints about socially irresponsible corporations and replace it with regulations that will make social irresponsibility illegal? Fine, but first lets put in regulations, then lets stop applying so much moral pressure and focus on legal pressure. Want to end criminal prosecution of corporations and end extraordinary punitive damages because corporations aren't real people and don't have mens rea? Guess who that will privilege? Want to deny corporations standing to sue? That's nice, (actually it's not nice, it's silly, many contracts would become worthless for one thing) but it won't get anywhere. The main thing I left the book with was a sense that I'd like to turn the field of law and economics on its head... focus on the effect of economic activity on the democratic-ness of law instead of focusing on the economic efficiency of regulation. There's probably a lot of political science that's on point, but may need translation in order to directly serve as a counter-point to the right-wing tendencies of the law and economics field. If I were going to go anywhere with this idea, I'd go with Prof. Ugo Mattei. Maybe one day. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elisabeth Flynn | 2/1/2014

    " Fascinating, clearly written explanation of how our economy has been transformed over the last fifty years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol Kuniholm | 1/31/2014

    " I've been trying to understand what's happening economically, politically, globally, and noticed quite a few discussions mentioned Robert Reich. Supercapitalism gives some really helpful insight into the ways that unregulated capitalism has overwhelmed democracy "of the people." Reich explains the power of free market mechanisms to intensify competition and to push us toward a system where money is the only recognized value. He identifies disturbing symptoms, suggests possible causes, and offers workable solutions. He shows, convincingly, that we're all part of the drive to the lowest price and the highest return in a way that jeopardizes much of what we say we want. I'm not sure I agree with all he says, but I understand the problems much better after reading his book and agree wholeheartedly with his conclusion that "corporate money . . . engulfs the system on a day-to-day basis, making it almost impossible for citizen voices to be heard," that "genuine reform will occur only if and when most citizens demand it," and that "corporations are not people." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jodi | 1/18/2014

    " i love reading about robert reich's take on economics, policy, environmentalism and the whole works. he presents his arguments in a cohesive, understandable manner that i enjoy taking a gander on once in a while. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara Marie Watson | 12/26/2013

    " Reich's account of the historical shift in the relationship between government and industry is accessible and clear. While he's a lefty through and through, his criticism of neologisms like corporate social responsibility are well thought out and reveal a flawed system in need of refresh. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alexander | 12/4/2013

    " This is a very readable work on economics and public policy that helps explain the roles of Americans as consumers/investors/citizens, and how we unwittingly help fuel our consumer/investor sides at the expense of what we believe is right as citizens. Everyone should read this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 7/2/2013

    " I am a Robert Reich fan, and enjoy his clear, logical prose. Not ashamed to say I admire his positions on most subjects. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anya | 5/2/2013

    " Enlightening. I have long wondered what happened to the "corporate statesmen" of the 50s. The ending (or how we solve this mess) felt a little weak. A very good read otherwise. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelly Swiryn | 4/19/2013

    " I have these feelings about Capitalism and Democracy that this smart guy put into words... that feels good to read. But he didn't spend enough time on the details of his solutions... It sounds so simple - is it really? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Courtney | 8/13/2012

    " A really excellent analysis of modern capitalism and its interaction with democracy. Unhinges capitalism from democracy and shows the necessary mental switch one must make to make effective and necessary societal and policy changes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam Ross | 7/23/2012

    " This was an interesting book documenting the almost uncontrolled expansion of multinational corporations since Nixon. Though I do not share some of Reich's assumptions, it was a helpful and illuminating work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Morgane | 7/3/2011

    " Makes you think; kinda redundant at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aaron Darden | 5/30/2011

    " Gets boring in places, but really lays out, in detail trends that led up to what is going on in modern capitalism. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jbsfaculty | 4/22/2011

    " Not a moving read, pretty wonkish in fact. However, I consider this one of the two most important books I have read this year; the other being Empire of Illusion. Reich clarifies the role of the corporation in America, what it is and what it should be. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christopher | 12/16/2010

    " As far as defusing Supply-Side rants goes, this is probably one of the most articulately offered arguments... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen | 11/9/2010

    " Interesting heuristic for understanding business and politics. Recommendable, if a little hysterical at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 6/3/2010

    " Probably the best big-picture look at business, politics and economics that I've read. Honest and insightful, he convincingly describes our current problems in an even-handed way. I really like his objectivity: staunch liberals and staunch conservatives will have their feathers ruffled. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pamela | 6/3/2010

    " Fabulous perspective on the role of capitalism in the increasing power of the consumer and the decreasing power of the citizen. Worth the read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 2/16/2010

    " I enjoy Robert's commentary on NPR and thought I should check out one of his books. This was an interesting read which helped shed light on some of the macro economic fores at work in our economy. I will probably reread this at some point in the future. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 10/20/2009

    " Smart, simple, and compelling. At first, I thought this would end up being a trite rehash of the same-old same-old arguments against "big corporations" -- But the author's thesis is much more nuanced, reasonable, and informed than this. "

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About the Author
Author Robert B. Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He has written numerous books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into twenty-two languages, and the bestseller Supercapitalism. He is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

About the Narrator

Dick Hill, named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, is one of the most awarded narrators in the business, having earned several Audie Awards and dozens of AudioFile Earphones Awards. In addition to narrating, he has both acted in and written for the theater.