A Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post considers growing income disparity and its consequences in the United States, proposing a set of solutions he hopes might succeed in evening the economic playing field.
He [Pearlstein] is not a Ph.D.-type economist, but he reads widely and aptly summarizes what academics such as Edward Banfield, James Coleman, Amartya Sen, and Robert Reich have written about trust and income distribution. He explains the Gini coefficient in reader-friendly terms and then presents easy-to-read tables showing the distribution of wealth and income around the globe ... Pearlstein has written a book that underscores difficult economic and social problems and suggests how to confront them with policies that are moral as well as practica ... This book is full of deep insights and good ideas.
Pearlstein’s chief complaint is not the workings of capitalism per se but the excesses of inequality that characterize the particular form it has taken in the United States. Indeed, the core question of his book is just how much inequality capitalism can really accommodate without bursting at the seams ... those at the bottom have so little power to right the wrongs Pearlstein chronicles that his solutions seem appealing but far from imminent. Nonetheless, we need this voice to remind us of what is at stake when seemingly anodyne legislation governing tax, pensions, and even where polls are located and how long they remain open is debated. Inside antiseptic language lie the mechanics of the inequalities Pearlstein has brought to our attention in this powerful, idealistic book.
This unsatisfying survey of contemporary American capitalism takes a sharply critical tack ... Though Pearlstein is thoughtful and sincere, he isn’t plowing any new ground. Moreover, short of a Bernie Sanders presidency, it’s difficult to imagine any of Pearlstein’s solutions...being implemented any time soon ... the bulk of the book comes across as an ineffectual rant on contemporary injustices.