From Publishers Weekly
Cambridge University economist Hertz asserts that Reagan's and Thatcher's brand of free market capitalism has had dire social and political repercussions, although it has triumphed as the dominant world ideology and brought prosperity to many. She sensibly argues that with government in retreat from its traditional rule-setter role, multinational corporations have grown so powerful 51 of the hundred biggest economies in the world are corporations that they determine political policies rather than operate subject to them. Market success may rule, but Hertz laments that the state, in appearing to serve business, may be nullifying democracy's social contract to represent and protect the rights of all citizens equally. WTO protests and activism reinforce her sense of growing political discontent not only about income distribution effects (97% of the increase in income over the past 20 years in the U.S. has gone to the top 20% of the families) but also about human rights issues. Campaign finance realities, declining voter participation, increasing alienation and terrorism amid glowing corporate results represent an urgent cry for reform to Hertz. Since corporations are not designed and cannot be expected to serve a general population's social and political needs, she argues that democracies need to move toward a realignment between the state's political power and the corporations' economic power so that all people have a positive stake in world economic progress. Hertz maps out a proposed agenda, and her eloquent call to action deserves the attention of every concerned citizen of our troubled world.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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In the new global economy, the rule of government has taken a backseat to the power of big business. Corporations control much of the way we live, from the quality of the food on our plates to the news we consume through the media. According to Hertz, NAFTA and the WTO allow a small group of unelected officials who answer to no one but big multinational corporations to make secret rulings that can override the laws of nations in the name of fair trade. Although it's depressing to read her account of the market rule we live under, she does offer hope. In a society of consumerism, individuals do have power when they vote with their pocketbooks. Protest is back, and the Internet has become a powerful medium for dissenting voices. Not only that, investigative journalism, boycotts, and sensitivity to their public image have suddenly made business leaders mindful of ethics. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved