9780060193300 / 0060193301

Turbo-Capitalism: Winners And Losers In The Global Economy


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Publisher:Harper, 1999



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About the book:

In this incisive critical analysis of today's free market capitalism, Edward Luttwak shows how it is vastly different from the controlled capitalism that flourished so successfully from 1945 to the 1980s. Turbo-capitalism is private enterprise liberated from government regulation, unchecked by effective trade unions, unfettered by concerns for employees or investment restrictions, and unhindered by taxation. It promises a dynamic, expanding economy and new wealth.

The winners--the architects and acrobats of techno-organizational change--become much richer; the losers, the majority, become relatively or absolutely poorer and are forced by downsizing to take the traditional jobs of the underclass, more and more of whom end up in prison. Edward Luttwak challenges the conventional wisdom that jobs lost in old industries will be replaced by jobs in new ones. If General Motors fires you, Microsoft will not hire you; instead you'll be working in 'services,' often poorly paid.

Led by the United States, closely followed by Britain, turbo-capitalism is spreading fast throughout Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world (only in France and Japan is there any resistance) without the two great forces that check its enormous power in the United States: a powerful legal system and the stringent rules of American Calvinism. Acknowledging the great efficiency of turbo-capitalism, Luttwak provides no solutions but describes in powerful detail the major societal upheavals and inequities it causes and the broad dissatisfaction and anxiety that may result. He suggests this is a high price to pay for this great dilemma of our times.

"They call it the free market, but that is shorthand for much more than the freedom to buy and sell. What they celebrate, preach, and demand is private enterprise liberated from government regulation, unchecked by effective trade unions, unfettered by sentimental concerns over the fate of employees or communities, unrestrained by customs barriers or investment restrictions, and molested as little as possible by taxation. What they insistently demand is the privatization of state-owned businesses of all kind and the conversion of public institutions from universities and botanical gardens to prisons, from libraries and schools to old-age homes into private enterprises run for profit. What they promise is more dynamic economy that will generate new wealth--while saying nothing about the distribution of any wealth, old or new. They call it the free market, but I call it turbo-capitalism because it is so profoundly different from the strictly controlled capitalism that flourished from 1945 until the 1980s, and that brought the sensational novelty of mass affluence to the peoples of the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and all other countries that followed their paths."
-- Edward Luttwak

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