Three recent books about corporate America are reviewed by James Lardner in the latest New York Review of Books. The piece, The specter haunting your office, covers:
The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences, by Louis Uchitelle (Vintage, 287 pp., $14.95)
The Great American Jobs Scam, by Greg LeRoy (Berrett-Koehler, 290 pp., $24.95)
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism, by John C. Bogle (Yale University Press,260 pp., $16.00)
I won't pretend it's the most profound article you've ever read. But these are voices most economists seldom give heed to. Lardner concludes on a melancholy note:
Most Americans are troubled by the culture of dealmaking and financial engineering and insider self-enrichment that Bogle deplores; by the callous treatment of workers and work life that Uchitelle describes; by the erosion of communities and community institutions that LeRoy examines.
Not very far below the political surface, most of us feel some version of the same vexed ambivalence toward corporate America—dazzled by the conveniences and comforts it delivers, yet resentful of the tradeoffs that it continually demands; few Americans would be anything but grateful if our corporations and financial institutions could develop some respect for our non-material and non-individualistic selves. It is hard to imagine such a fundamental transformation of these giant institutions. It is even harder to imagine a better world in which they remain essentially what they are.