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Home » Books » Nonfiction » Politics » Public Policy » Economic Policy

Everything for Sale

The Virtues and Limits of Markets

By Robert Kuttner

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Format: Paperback, 410 pages
Other Information: black & white illustrations
Published In: United States, 28 May 1999
This text disputes the laissez-faire direction of both economic theory and practice that has gained prominence since the mid-1970s. Dissenting voices, the author argues, have been drowned out by a sea of circular arguments and complex mathematical models that ignore real-world conditions and disregard values that can't easily be turned into commodities. Included is an explanation of how some sectors of the economyrequire a blend of market, regulation and social outlay.

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Challenging the prevailing conservative doctrine that an unregulated, self-correcting, free-market economy is the ideal, Kuttner (The End of Laissez-Faire) argues that in a humane society, whole realms of activity necessarily depart from pure market principles because market norms drive out nonmarket norms‘civility, commitment to the public good, personal economic security and liberty. In the workplace, a growing tendency to treat human labor purely as a commodity has led to an increasing polarization of wages, erosion of standards of fairness and greater worker insecurity, he maintains. Overreliance on market mechanisms is ruining the health care system, contends Kuttner, a contributing columnist to Business Week, because of enormous hidden costs engendered by opportunism, fragmentation, underinvestment in public health and prevention, and inefficient use of home care and nursing care. Arguing that deregulation of financial markets leads to offsetting inefficiencies, he casts a skeptical eye on hostile takeovers, junk bonds and derivatives and advocates "stakeholder capitalism" to make shareholders more accountable to employees. In a benchmark for future debate, Kuttner brings, clear, pragmatic thinking to complex, thorny issues, reclaiming a middle ground between champions of laissez-faire capitalism and statism. (Jan.)

In this thorough, scholarly approach to current economics relative to the political scene, journalist Kuttner (End of Laissez-Faire, LJ 2/15/91), who writes columns for BusinessWeek and the Washington Post, examines in great detail the free-market economy. The free market he intends is that envisioned by libertarian thought, with less government intervention and deregulation. Kuttner offers comparisons with the mixed economy of previous decades back to the Roosevelt era. He demonstrates how government regulation, intervention, and other actions have affected the economy in the past and how they still do. The serious student of economic history and policy will glean from his work many thought-provoking and controversial ideas that reveal how the free market has changed in the areas of labor, healthcare, sports, and business practices, to name a few. Kuttner's research has produced a well-written tome that certainly has a place on the shelves of academic and large public libraries.‘Steven J. Mayover, Free Lib. of Philadelphia

EAN: 9780226465555
ISBN: 0226465551
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Dimensions: 22.86 x 15.32 x 2.39 centimetres (0.68 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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