The terms “capitalism” and “socialism” continue to haunt our political and economic imaginations, but we rarely consider their interconnected early history. Even the eighteenth century had its “socialists,” but unlike those of the nineteenth, they paradoxically sought to make the world safe for “capitalists.” The word “socialists” was first used in Northern Italy as a term of contempt for the political economists and legal reformers Pietro Verri and Cesare Beccaria, author of the epochal On Crimes and Punishments. Yet the views and concerns of these first socialists, developed inside a pugnacious intellectual coterie dubbed the Academy of Fisticuffs, differ dramatically from those of the socialists that followed.Sophus Reinert turns to Milan in the late 1700s to recover the Academy’s ideas and the policies they informed. At the core of their preoccupations lay the often lethal tension among states, markets, and human welfare in an era when the three were becoming increasingly intertwined. What distinguished these thinkers was their articulation of a secular basis for social organization, rooted in commerce, and their insistence that political economy trumped theology as the underpinning for peace and prosperity within and among nations.Reinert argues that the Italian Enlightenment, no less than the Scottish, was central to the emergence of political economy and the project of creating market societies. By reconstructing ideas in their historical contexts, he addresses motivations and contingencies at the very foundations of modernity.
America Unequal demonstrates how powerful economic forces have diminished the prospects of millions of Americans and why "a rising tide no longer lifts all boats." Changes in the economy, public policies, and family structure have contributed to slow growth in family incomes and rising economic inequality. Poverty remains high because of an erosion of employment opportunities for less-skilled workers, not because of an erosion of the work ethic; because of a failure of government to do more for the poor and the middle class, not because of social programs.There is nothing about a market economy, the authors say, that ensures that a rising standard of living will reduce inequality. If a new technology, such as computerization, leads firms to hire more managers and fewer typists, then the wages of lower-paid secretaries will decline and the wages of more affluent managers will increase. Such technological changes as well as other economic changes, particularly the globalization of markets, have had precisely this effect on the distribution of income in the United States.America Unequal challenges the view, emphasized in the Republicans' "Contract with America," that restraining government social spending and cutting welfare should be our top domestic priorities. Instead, it proposes a set of policies that would reduce poverty by supplementing the earnings of low-wage workers and increasing the employment prospects of the jobless. Such demand-side policies, Sheldon Danziger and Peter Gottschalk argue, are essential for correcting a labor market that has been increasingly unable to absorb less-skilled and less-experienced workers.
Populists on both sides of the political aisle routinely announce that the American Dream is dead. According to them, the game has been rigged by elites, workers can’t get ahead, wages have been stagnant for decades, and the middle class is dying.
Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, disputes this rhetoric as wrong and dangerous. In this succinctly argued volume, he shows that, on measures of economic opportunity and quality of life, there has never been a better time to be alive in America. He backs his argument with overwhelming—and underreported—data to show how the facts favor realistic optimism.
He warns, however, that the false prophets of populism pose a serious danger to our current and future prosperity. Their policies would leave workers worse off. And their erroneous claim that the American Dream is dead could discourage people from taking advantage of real opportunities to better their lives. If enough people start to believe the Dream is dead, they could, in effect, kill it. To prevent this self-fulfilling prophecy, Strain’s book is urgent reading for anyone feeling the pull of the populists.
E. J. Dionne and Henry Olsen provide spirited responses to Strain’s argument.
This pioneering study of United States direct investment in Japan will interest academic specialists, business managers, and government policymakers in America, Japan, and elsewhere. Drawing on rich historical materials from both sides of the Pacific, including corporate records and government documents never before made public, Mason examines the development of both Japanese policy towards foreign investment and the strategic responses of American corporations. This history is related in part through original case studies of Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Ford, General Motors, International Business Machines, Motorola, Otis Elevator, Texas Instruments, Western Electric, and Victor Talking Machine.The book seeks to explain why s little foreign direct investment has entered modern Japan. In contrast to the widely held view that emphasizes an alleged lack of effort on the part of foreign corporations, this study finds that Japanese restrictions merit greater attention. Many analysts of the modern Japanese political economy identify the Japanese government as the key actor in initiating such restrictions. Mason finds that the influence of Japanese business has often proved more potent than these analysts suggest. This book offers fresh insights into both the operation of the modern Japanese political economy and of its relations with the world economy.
The Spanish Civil War created a conflict for Americans who preferred that the United States remain uninvolved in foreign affairs. Despite the country's isolationist tendencies, opposition to the rise of fascism across Europe convinced many Americans that they had to act in support of the Spanish Republic. While much has been written about the war itself and its international volunteers, little attention has been paid to those who coordinated these relief efforts at home.
American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War tells the story of the political campaigns to raise aid for the Spanish Republic as activists pushed the limits of isolationist thinking. Those concerned with Spain’s fate held a range of political convictions (including anarchists, socialists, liberals, and communists) with very different understandings of what fascism was. Yet they all agreed that fascism’s advance must be halted. With labor strikes, fund-raising parties, and ambulance tours, defenders of Spain in the United States sought to shift the political discussion away from isolation of Spain’s elected government and toward active assistance for the faltering Republic.
Examining the American political organizations affiliated with this relief effort and the political repression that resulted as many of Spain’s supporters faced the early incarnations of McCarthyism’s trials, Smith provides new understanding of American politics during the crucial years leading up to World War II. By also focusing on the impact the Spanish Civil War had on those of Spanish ethnicity in the United States, Smith shows how close to home the seemingly distant war really hit.
“The American taxpayer”—angered by government waste and satisfied only with spending cuts—has preoccupied elected officials and political commentators since the Reagan Revolution. But resistance to progressive taxation has older, deeper roots. American Tax Resisters presents the full history of the American anti-tax movement that has defended the pursuit of limited taxes on wealth and battled efforts to secure social justice through income redistribution for the past 150 years.From the Tea Party to the Koch brothers, the major players in today’s anti-tax crusade emerge in Romain Huret’s account as the heirs of a formidable—and far from ephemeral—political movement. Diverse coalitions of Americans have rallied around the flag of tax opposition since the Civil War, their grievances fueled by a determination to defend private life against government intrusion and a steadfast belief in the economic benefits and just rewards of untaxed income. Local tax resisters were actively mobilized by business and corporate interests throughout the early twentieth century, undeterred by such setbacks as the Sixteenth Amendment establishing a federal income tax. Zealously petitioning Congress and chipping at the edges of progressive tax policies, they bequeathed hard-won experience to younger generations of conservatives in their pursuit of laissez-faire capitalism.Capturing the decisive moments in U.S. history when tax resisters convinced a majority of Americans to join their crusade, Romain Huret explains how a once marginal ideology became mainstream, elevating economic success and individual entrepreneurialism over social sacrifice and solidarity.
Over sixty percent of all infectious human diseases, including tuberculosis, influenza, cholera, and hundreds more, are shared with other vertebrate animals. Arresting Contagion tells the story of how early efforts to combat livestock infections turned the United States from a disease-prone nation into a world leader in controlling communicable diseases. Alan Olmstead and Paul Rhode show that many innovations devised in the fight against animal diseases, ranging from border control and food inspection to drug regulations and the creation of federal research labs, provided the foundation for modern food safety programs and remain at the heart of U.S. public health policy.America’s first concerted effort to control livestock diseases dates to the founding of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in 1884. Because the BAI represented a milestone in federal regulation of commerce and industry, the agency encountered major jurisdictional and constitutional obstacles. Nevertheless, it proved effective in halting the spread of diseases, counting among its early breakthroughs the discovery of Salmonella and advances in the understanding of vector-borne diseases.By the 1940s, government policies had eliminated several major animal diseases, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and establishing a model for eradication that would be used around the world. Although scientific advances played a key role, government interventions did as well. Today, a dominant economic ideology frowns on government regulation of the economy, but the authors argue that in this case it was an essential force for good.
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