What exactly is the common good? A concern for the common good—keeping the common good in mind—is a moral attitude. It recognizes that we are all in it together. If there is no common good, there is no society. Reich steadfastly maintains that Ayn Rand is wrong, that it is not through pursuing selfishness, but rather through performing our mutual duties to ourselves and others, that we find out who and what we are, both as individuals and as a nation. But how did we get so far from our duties, so far from our essential selves? In all of this.
Taken together, these breakdowns—and others like them—have led not only to a widening gap between rich and poor, but also to a profound distrust of the institutions and mechanisms of government. So how do we dedicate ourselves anew to the common good? I finished The Common Good encouraged, and ready for the fight, for—as always—Reich, clear-eyed but sanguine, convinces me that, although our democracy has been weakened, it may still be revived and reinvigorated.
View all 5 comments. Mar 15, Jean rated it it was amazing Shelves: business , audio-book , non-fiction , civil-rights , sociology , politics. This is a very timely essay. Reich states we are a nation of law and order bound on the common good. He says the enemies of the common good range from the slumlords to megabanks and untrammeled hedge funds.
These all disregard the rules of society for selfish gains. Reich stresses the importance of the truth; he proceeds to point out the problems caused by lies. Robert B. Reich is following the lead of S This is a very timely essay. I found this to be a most interesting discussion and a good review of citizenship. This book is easy to read.
My only complaint is the repetition of key points throughout the book. Reich narrator the book himself. The book is just over five hours. Apr 05, Andy rated it liked it. How to restore the notion of common good is a vital topic. This book makes some good points. Unfortunately, it is much more of a rant about rampant evil than a guide to the common good. Also, I don't quite agree with the bit on why we lost the common good and how to get it back. Having recently watched the Ken Burns documentary about Vietnam, I think Reich is downplaying the importance of LBJ's campaign of systematic disinformation against the American people, in terms of what destroyed the prev How to restore the notion of common good is a vital topic.
Having recently watched the Ken Burns documentary about Vietnam, I think Reich is downplaying the importance of LBJ's campaign of systematic disinformation against the American people, in terms of what destroyed the previous social norms of common good. Before Vietnam, reasonable Americans believed what the president said just because he was the president.
They assumed the government was competent, knew best, was looking out for the average Joe, and was telling the truth. That was shocking to me in the TV show because that's a different culture from what I've grown up in. Reich does of course include Vietnam but as one thing in a long list. I don't know about that. Watergate, for instance, was petty nonsense in comparison: some politicians spying on each other.
Vietnam killed a couple million people. Reich goes on to list a whole bunch of corporate crimes, but that's sort of off topic. That the malefactors of great wealth will murder their neighbors for another million dollars if they can get away with it is a constant. That's why we need an honest government to enforce the rules, and to amend the law when needed. It's interesting reading this right after "Tribe" Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging , which sort of implies that warfare is useful for social cohesion.
Whereas it's clearer to me reading this book, that Vietnam was really the tipping point for wrecking the common good in the U. Why did Americans trust in democracy before Vietnam? Because it was objectively, obviously working. It beat the Nazis. It got us out of the Depression without resorting to Stalinism. It wasn't perfect but it was moving things in the right direction for an expanding middle class. It built big bridges and libraries and useful stuff. How do we get back to going forward?
View all 7 comments. A short, compelling read, written and published at a time when its message is incredibly important. I recommend it without hesitation, and it's the kind of thing I wish that high school teachers recommended to or even considered requiring of the nation's teenagers.
As much as I appreciated Reich's discussion of "resurrecting truth" and the critical need for "civic education for all," I found the most compelling chapters in the book the ones that focused on leadership not just government, but A short, compelling read, written and published at a time when its message is incredibly important. As much as I appreciated Reich's discussion of "resurrecting truth" and the critical need for "civic education for all," I found the most compelling chapters in the book the ones that focused on leadership not just government, but corporate, etc. Alas, I fear the book I also fear that it may be too dry or conceptual for its intended audience and that, even with a number of anecdotes, Reich's discipline in maintaining brevity leads to too many of the important points coming across as tautological, declaratory, conclusory, or I dunno, maybe even "preachy," and bordering on condescending.
Granted, Reich is an accomplished academic, who also earned his spurs at the Cabinet level during the Clinton administration , and he invested over pages in his thesis, so we can expect more, and he delivers. Reich does a far-more-than-adequate job of reminding us that our country, our society, and our communities depend upon I wish more people OK, some people would read it It would be, well, for the common good Hope springs eternal. View all 4 comments. May 16, Melki rated it really liked it Shelves: social-issues , politics. Reich presents a few reassuring words and suggestions on what we must do to restore Americans' faith in the common good.
Hint: we need to dispose of "whatever it takes to win" partisanship, "whatever it takes to maximize profits" CEOs, and "whatever it takes to rig the economy" money pouring into politics. Sure seems like a pipe dream these days unless more voters suddenly become more informed. I also plan to try the technique that Reich discusses regarding the use of Honor and Shame next year wh Reich presents a few reassuring words and suggestions on what we must do to restore Americans' faith in the common good. I also plan to try the technique that Reich discusses regarding the use of Honor and Shame next year when attempting to collect the Neighborhood Association dues.
Those who gave this year will be Honored with a thank you in the letter. Those who did not contribute to the common good will be subtly Shamed by having their name omitted from the list. OR, this could be a total failure with everyone coming to the conclusion that "Hey, if he didn't pay, why should I? View all 6 comments. Everyone should read this.
Reich explains what people have in common.. View 2 comments.
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Mar 05, Bill Warren rated it it was amazing Shelves: politics , economics , philosophy. Outstanding, Reich is as entertaining as he is enlightening. This book ought be required reading for every elected official, spiritual leader, and business exec across the nation. If Robert Reich has not written the best book of political economy in a long while, he has certainly written the most timely and necessary book of our time.
Without the collective good, there is no society. Without regulatory restrictions insuri If Robert Reich has not written the best book of political economy in a long while, he has certainly written the most timely and necessary book of our time. Without regulatory restrictions insuring intellectual property and competitive fair play, there is no American economy. It is a model built on the ideal of truth and equitable competition, not the ideal of individualism without rules or constraints. If we are a nation of law and order, it is because we, in our collective sense of right and wrong, have voluntarily committed to the ideal.
Without the self-restraint that can only come from recognition of the common good the police would have virtually no chance to keep the peace. It is the ideal, as much as the police who clearly deserve our respect and support , which keep the streets safe. If modern science has taught us anything it is the degree to which our world is integrated. The quality of our environment is determined not by the local ecology of a prairie here and a rain forest there, but by the balance achieved within a complex and integrated global ecosystem.
The most impactful economic theory flows not from presumed theoretical behaviors but from the recognition of how much our actual economic behavior is driven by human psychology. If there is a common theme to the malaise currently paralyzing our politics it is the historically inaccurate digital perspective that there is only democracy and authoritarianism. Any attempt to promote the common good on any front, including gender and racial equality, immigration, prison reform, income inequality, etc. As Reich points out, however, when Ayn Rand was establishing the ideological foundation of the conservatism now embraced by the ruling political class in Washington, the Allied powers did not defeat fascism, nor did the US defeat the USSR in the Cold War, by employing the opposite ideology.
We defeated the repulsive authoritarianism of the midth Century by doubling down on our commitment to the common good and the guiding ideal which redefined it in a uniquely American and effective way. Technology has integrated our lives more than ever before. Nor do I think we should want to. Those years were built on a commitment to the common good, not its rejection.
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As any honest accountant will tell you, no accounting is without fault because no accounting can, by definition, be complete. The context of reality is just too complex and multi-faceted. I could, too. But that kind of reciprocal finger pointing is one of the forces that undermine the common good today. The simple fact is that the problem is bigger than the individual injustices that collectively define it. In the same way, every solution Reich provides e. If we have a responsibility in the name of the common good to universities, for example, they have a responsibility to our common good as well.
Again, however, a duality is just that. All told, Robert Reich has a perspective. We all do. It is because we are losing our sense of common good…We have never been a perfect union. Our finest moments have been when we sought to become more perfect than we had been. Mar 23, Andrew rated it really liked it Shelves: united-states-of-america , politics-and-political-theory. The Common Good, by Robert B.
Reich, is a book on the decay of the concept of the common good in the United States in particular, although this principle applies everywhere. Reich notes the rise of brinkmanship politics, where each party in the States holds the budget hostage and threatens a government shutdown to try and force in petty legislation. He notes the increasing viewpoint that political and business positions exist to enrich the incumbent, and not for increasing the quality of life The Common Good, by Robert B.
He notes the increasing viewpoint that political and business positions exist to enrich the incumbent, and not for increasing the quality of life in society. He notes how businesses are shareholder profit focused, and no longer view their human resources, customers, or products as the most important factors in business. Reich also disparages the promotion of individualism over the well being of individuals. This is seen in sectors like health insurance, education, politics, business and so on, where wealth is the most important factor. Reich's book is about the principle of the common good - enshrined in Liberal Democracy.
It is a utopian ideal, but one that basically promotes the well being of all over the well being of one. Certainly individual rights are important, but these rights should not trump the rights of everyone else - this is a slap in the face of the idea of individualism in general. Reich looks at this through specific examples.
Certainly Donald Trump is in this book, but the book does not focus on him. Reich holds back nothing in criticizing the likes of Trump, Shkreli, and others who seem to promote their own positions and well being over anything. This erodes public trust in office and business, is unhealthy for economic well being and stability, and can detrimentally effect many others. Martin Shkreli used hostile takeover tactics to purchase a company that had a monopoly on an important life saving drug, and then raised its price to astronomical levels, making it unaffordable for many who needed it.
He gained funds for this through securities fraud. Donald Trump has refused to put his private wealth in a public trust fund while in office, and maintains his ties to his former business empire, and all unabashedly. Such behaviour undermines and erodes the credibility of office for politicians, and destroys public trust in business. These issues could be potentially catastrophic for the idea of society, community and democracy, all concepts that rely on public trust, honesty, and the observance of rules and laws. The Common Good is an interesting piece on the titled concept.
Different from Reich's more economically focused works, this is more a piece on political theory and political philosophy. Reich is examining a key principle in American and most democracy. He also examines how this concept may be eroding in modern times, and how dangerous this may be for democracy to exist as a form of government. A solid read, and much less hysterical than much of the commentary about politics nowadays. Reich is examining a key principle in American and most democracy. He also examines how this concept may be eroding in modern times, and how dangerous this may be for democracy to exist as a form of government.
A solid read, and much less hysterical than much of the commentary about politics nowadays. It is a calm and collected examination of a key political concept by a veteran politician and political theorist. A solid read. Feb 25, John Mihelic rated it really liked it. Reich's heart is in the right place. In this book he takes a look at how norms have been eroded in the last couple years more than that, but especially since the election of the current president. It feels a little too surface level without looking at the deeper structural problems. Reich is old enough to remember the world before Watergate and Neoliberalism, where if you were a certain race and class, then you didn't have to worry about as much as you do now.
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There's been a number of books lo Reich's heart is in the right place. There's been a number of books looking at this breakdown on both the right in the left - see recent works by Robert Putnam and Charles Muarry. But to me it seems the problem is not that the last few years have been the aberration of the social world built on capitalism. Instead, the immediate post war years were the aberration, and asking how we get to that place while not really mentioning separate water fountains and all that was a symptom of again - it's in not looking deep enough.
And for a while Reich was on the left edge of what was possible to be listened to and not dismissed as a lunatic. I think the window is being pushed left. If not, the whole window being pulled, it is at least being widened. Apr 04, Erik rated it it was ok Shelves: read-in , Feels like notes for a TED talk. Mar 05, Michael Austin rated it liked it Shelves: read-in I wanted to really like this book because it is such an important topic and because I agree that we have, as a nation, lost sight of the concept of a "common weal," or a common good.
But I only sort of liked it because, while it is occasionally insightful, it reads like a first draft and, in many places, descends from its lofty thesis to become a series of rants about things that the author doesn't like. I'm glad that I read it, but I probably won't quote it much: its diagnosis is too general, a I wanted to really like this book because it is such an important topic and because I agree that we have, as a nation, lost sight of the concept of a "common weal," or a common good.
I'm glad that I read it, but I probably won't quote it much: its diagnosis is too general, and its prescriptions are too amorphous, for it to be much help in reinstilling an idea of the common good. And also, Reich falls pretty hard into the nostalgia trap--the belief that the country was united and understood the common good until about fifty years ago, when things began to go drastically awry. But most of the things that he highlights have been with us always, though the amount of civic virtue and national unity was probably greater in the post-World War II period than at any other time since the Revolution.
The narrative of decline that the book implies, though, misreads a temporary spike in common goodness as evidence of a steady decline. Reich's basic argument is that Americans used to have a shared notion of civic virtue and the common good and now we don't any more. And he places the blame on three sets of villains: 1 politicians who want to win at any cost; 2 corporate leaders who want to make money at any cost; and 3 politicians who conspire with corporate leaders to "rig the economy at any cost.
But whatever. I was impressed by the even-handedness of Reich's treatment of the first group. He does not single out Republicans as the destroyers of civility and common values. He blames them of course, but he blames democrats just as much. He is especially hard on the 1 Democratic Senate that defeated the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork through outright character assassination; and 2 Barack Obama, who legislated through executive order and weakened the public's trust in the separation of powers.
He is not nearly as even handed when talking about rich people and corporations, who, he argues, have entirely abandoned the idea of public virtue in favor of making money and maximizing shareholder value. And with these ill-gotten gains, they have flooded government with huge donations aimed at shifting the playing field so they can earn more money.
And politicians of both parties have gone right along with them. And all of this leads directly to Donald Trump, who has been and I think that Reich is absolutely correct here systematically destroying the norms and values at the heart of civic virtue and the common good. But Trump, as Reich presents him, is a consequence of the disappearance of public virtue and not its cause.
All of this is packaged in a relatively short book with ten chapters--most of which quickly abandon their primary arguments and become a kind of stream-of-consciousness narration of what Robert Reich thinks is wrong with the country. I agree with a lot of what he says, but I desperately wish that he had taken a little more time--and a revision or two--to say it. Feb 23, Ailith Twinning rated it liked it Shelves: This book actually digs out several of the points where I find myself wondering if, somehow, Reich manages to be naive.
It's endearing how hopeful he is, definitely read this, but it's really not his best work from my perspective. But then, to be fair, I just can't wrap my head around seeing the basic systems of the world today as anything other than actual evil. I usetacould. I learned too much about how they work, and how perfectly normal my own life was, never This book actually digs out several of the points where I find myself wondering if, somehow, Reich manages to be naive.
I learned too much about how they work, and how perfectly normal my own life was, nevermind how far down there is yet to fall. The people are mostly fine, as far as people go, but put people in a system that encourages and reward immoral, selfish and cruel behaviours, and that's what you'll get. It's not just cream that rises to the top. Go read Saving Capitalism, for the Many Not the Few next -- it's more concrete, and to my tastes, but you might like it if you liked this either way. Mar 16, Christen rated it liked it.
Yes civic education in schools and universities will help, but what about the rest of us? I hope not! We need to stay aware, hold politicians and corporate leaders accountable. Shop responsibly. And most of all, talk to each other. Jul 06, Michael Huang added it Shelves: blinkisted. The common good is the short hand for the set of values, ideals, and norms shared by a society such as freedom, fairness, trust that makes the society functional and healthy. The US constitution embodies this common good: "we the people" will promote general welfare. But people like Ayn Rand promotes a different view where common good will lead to tyranny whereas a society should be structured based on self-interest.
People can also exploit the common good for their self-interest e. There are recent examples of erosion of common good in US: Pharma CEO hiking price for personal enrichment; Trump lying to fan his base; CEOs destroying middle-class welfare for share holder interests; Obama and McCain renege on promises for public campaign financing. How do we regain and maintain that common good? According to Reich, that requires virtuous leaders, eduction, and commitment to truth. Feb 13, Anne rated it really liked it. A thought provoking book about the way so many things and people in the US have turned away from the common good for the country.
He outlines simply and clearly how he thinks this came about and how we can regain it. It is non partisan and he is critical of both Democrats and Republicans in an inoffensive way. Apr 04, Peter A rated it it was amazing Shelves: history , current-affairs.
In the three sections, What is the common good? Let me quote from the book, to give the reader of this review a summary of the key points of the book. It has been the ideas we share, the good we have held in common …. We must share these commitments if we are to have a functioning society. They inform our judgments about right and wrong because they constitute our common good. Have we forgotten how we have succeeded by ensuring all people had equal opportunity for education and advancement, that by ensuring these attributes we ensure a stronger society, more opportunities for ourselves and family, and have a renewed spirit from that contribution.
Reich makes it clear that the founders of our country understood that education for all was essential for a democracy to succeed. As noted above, Reich gives examples of how personal greed, political and economic excesses, and increased license to lie, without repercussions, has led to a general distrust of our democratic institutions, of corporations, and of journalism. He proposes several broad steps for us to regain a focus on the common good and of course justifies why this is important.
He also acknowledges that this is an uphill battle, one we must struggle towards or else lose our country. I believe his motivation for writing this, given the age we live in, is to ignite a conversation in our country, that will lead to the changes he suggests, and has included a discussion guide at the end of the book. Compelling From the very first page, with the details of pharmaceutical CEO Shkreli's story and the banking CEO Stumpf's appearance, this book grabbed me by my emotional center as almost no book ever has.
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Honestly, I feel angry. Actually angry. The reason this book is so compelling, I think, is that it rings of a truth that I've known for a while but haven't actually heard anyone say. Consider how it starts. It begins with Shkreli, the American hedge fund guy who bought out a pharmaceutical compa Compelling From the very first page, with the details of pharmaceutical CEO Shkreli's story and the banking CEO Stumpf's appearance, this book grabbed me by my emotional center as almost no book ever has.
It begins with Shkreli, the American hedge fund guy who bought out a pharmaceutical company, then raised the price of a cheap life-saving drug just to make money. In a completely selfish way, he stated that he didn't care if people couldn't afford it, because he "was only interested in making money and we live in a capitalist society. He said he regretted not raising the price higher. He antagonized everyone around him. The good news is that he also did illegal things, so they were able to jail him, but what if he hadn't?
What if he only raised the price? It made me think of Epipens, for example, and other drugs, whose price has only recently been raised here in American, whose pharmaceutical owners are making huge profits. It's not hard to do the math. So, Shkreli's story was both fascinating and repulsive, but then Stumpf appears, a criminal parading as good man.
It's hard to know why he bothered, but there Stumpf was, saying politely that he was a man interest in being helpful. It broke soon after that he was making hundreds of millions of dollars destroying millions of American's lives. Could he really have wanted to be helpful? As I read, I thought about it. But no. Stumpf's behavior was clearly predatory. He was making money. And he didn't go to jail. He was too rich. Robert Reich is talking about these two men first because that's what is bleeding our society dry now.
Our businesses, our politicians, our Congress, and even our president, they are straightforward about making money to the detriment of the good of most of the people. And I think we are brainwashed into thinking this is how it has to be. This book discusses how it was in and earlier, before Reagonomics took hold, before we allowed the people who are so desperate to make and stockpile an infinite amount of money to the detriment of others in this country.
One last thing. Is there even such a thing as, "A Common Good"? You know, that's something that Reich talks about a lot throughout this book. As I was reading, a certain realization formed in my own mind. It's my own opinion. Reich paints a good picture of what the common good is. Here's what I personally came up with myself but if you read this book, and I think you'll really enjoy it if you do - "A Common Good" refers to several things, but most importantly, it refers to these things: 1.
Recognizing other people as human beings and not hurting each other for any reason, not even to make money so, not breaking laws and not worrying about laws because you have no desire to break them because you don't want to hurt anyone ; 2. Doing everything you can to help others as long as it doesn't hurt yourself so, paying taxes and supporting schools and things like that.
In conclusion, I haven't ruined the book for you because it's a lot more than what I've just said. It's really worth reading. May 23, Alex rated it liked it. Reich is the definition of a New Deal liberal, an anachronism in a world where neoliberalism has infiltrated the political establishment and those challenging its hegemony looking for much more radical solutions than Reich proposes. Reich obviously appreciates the crisis that capitalism finds itself in, growing inequality, growing alienation from governing institutions, and what he sees as the destruction of an ethos he believes once allowed for 3.
Reich obviously appreciates the crisis that capitalism finds itself in, growing inequality, growing alienation from governing institutions, and what he sees as the destruction of an ethos he believes once allowed for shared wealth and prosperity, namely this idea of the common good. He describes a post-war era where politicians and corporations embraced an idea of the common good, where decisions took into account all of society's stake holders, but this idea has been replaced by the me-first, win at any cost rejection of the common good, where profit and self-aggrandization is now the dominant goal of politicians and corporate entities.
Although I appreciate the philosophy of the common good as an ideal worth organizing society around, I'm less convinced that this was a motivator in the post-war book, an era of unprecedented economic growth and union militancy that allowed social policy to encourage sharing of resources. Nor do I think the posts world was merely one overtaken by a selfish ideology as much as these ideological expressions reflecting a capitalism less able to share wealth as growth slowed and recessionary periods returned to the fold.
I also do not believe Reich offers much in terms of political solutions out of the current state of things, other than proposing educational and volunteer models that can re-instill civic duty to the citizenry. His solutions are driven by a very top down approach to social change: if only we can convince our leaders to re-embrace the ideals of the common good all will be well.
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Absent is any role of ordinary people and working class institutions in shaping how a society organizes itself and in helping shape the ideas of what is right and just in the world. Reich is a complicated figure. A former secretary of labour under the Clinton administration who has regret about the economic policies that presidency embraced, someone who has recognized the social tension and breakdown caused by 30 years of neoliberalism, someone who broke with his close friends the Clintons to endorse Bernie Sanders' presidential bid.
But while his critiques of the current state of things are right, he paints a too rosy and I'd argue inaccurate picture of the New Deal era and offers little in terms of political solutions to challenge the economic and political polarization the United States finds itself in. Unfortunately, this is not a road map for the radical change the world needs.
Feb 27, Joan rated it it was amazing Shelves: most-favorite , non-fiction , 5-star-books. I wish this was required reading. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, , this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licenses issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Inquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
A book on humour should have been enjoyable to write. For some reason, it did not turn out that way. In fact, there have been many days when I wished I'd undertaken a less ostensibly pleasant task. So, I am grateful for friends and colleagues who have given encouragement. And thanks too to Susan Dunsmore for making the copy-editing such fun. I feel particularly fortunate to work in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University.
It has provided a happy home for me, being surrounded by colleagues who are willing to discuss ideas and to laugh at the world. Once again, I should pay tribute to Peter Golding who has unselfishly managed to protect the department against the demoralizing pressures undermining so much British academic life. Finally, of course, I would like to thank my family — to Sheila and to our children Daniel, Becky, Rachel and Benjamin.
A conventional sense of humour often calls for an element of malice. Certainly the children and I have teased, mocked and laughed at each other in the ways that families do. But over the years, Sheila, like her mother before her, has demonstrated that there are far more important, far more serious virtues than the ability to make jokes. So this book is dedicated to Sheila and to the memory of her mother. CQ Press Your definitive resource for politics, policy and people. Remember me?
Back Institutional Login Please choose from an option shown below. Need help logging in? Click here. Don't have access? View purchasing options. Online ISBN: Online Publication Date: May 31, Print Purchase Options. Copy to Clipboard. View Copyright Page [Page iv]. London : W. Addison , J. Oxford : Clarendon Press.
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