Why We Can’t Afford the Rich
Published 25 Nov Page count pages. Description Reviews Author Contents As inequalities widen and the effects of austerity deepen, in many countries the wealth of the rich has soared. The paperback includes a new Afterword updating developments in the last year and forcefully argues that the crises of economy and climate can only be resolved by radical change to make economies sustainable, fair and conducive to well-being for all.
A must read for politicians and policymakers alike" Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary "Sayer's penetrating analysis of asset-based unearned income is a powerful case for socialism, supporting as he does land nationalisation and the creation of banks with the remit to lend for productive investment in ethical and environmentally sustainable business.
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Why We Can’t Afford the Rich
Cookie Warning Text. From a different perspective, the word can refer to the funding of schools, hospitals or railways with the aim of benefiting the community and increasing our ability to realise human potentiality: the creation of what Marx referred to as use-values. Thanks to the neoliberal counter-revolution the notion is now used almost exclusively to refer to the amount of money an investor can expect in return for their outlay.
The third term that Sayer scrutinises — wealth - has also had its connotations hollowed-out since the s and is now viewed in a narrow, purely monetary fashion. More recently, Victorian writers such as Oscar Wilde and John Ruskin explored a wider definition of wealth that incorporated friendship, culture, sport and nature.
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Saver deploys an implicitly Marxist framework for his analysis of the system but mostly avoids the esoteric terminology of Marx and Engels that can sometimes deter the novice reader from engaging with introductions to radical political economy. Occasionally, however, the author alludes to his theoretical antecedents to make a telling point. For example, Sayer notes that the nineteenth-century version of capitalism explicated by Marx and Engels was relatively benign compared to the monstrosity that now prevails.
In other words, the explosive development of the productive forces under capitalism in the nineteenth-century did have some beneficial consequences for the working class, making possible rising living standards and later on greater access to education and healthcare. Characteristically, if this level of theorisation is off-putting, Sayer usefully provides a concrete manifestation of what this process means in our everyday experience. Sayer does not just lay bare the insanity of the status quo but also engages with the obvious question of what can we put in its place.
This is the term he uses to underline the critical contribution to any form of economic well-being both by previous generations and the rest of contemporary society. Sayer soberly reminds us that anyone living in the West is automatically the thoroughly undeserved recipient of centuries of unequal exchange between that part of the world and other regions based on plunder, slavery and imperialism.
Regarding the supreme threat to this birth right of unborn generations, Sayer highlights how the battle against climate change cannot be separated from the battle against the levels of inequality with which he is mostly concerned. Overall, Sayer does an impressive job of bringing home to the reader the scale of the threat capitalism now poses to humanity.
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