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The Price of Civilization: Economics and Ethics After the Fall [Hardcover]

Jeffrey Sachs
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Oct 2011

One of the world's most brilliant economists and the bestselling author of The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs has written a book that is essential reading for everyone - politicians, people in business and industry, and you. Setting out a bold and provocative, yet responsible and achievable, plan, THE PRICE OF CIVILIZATION reveals why we must - and how we can - change our entire economic culture in this time of crisis.

The world economy remains in a precarious state after the recent global recession - where quick fixes were implemented instead of sustainable solutions to systemic problems. Jeffrey Sachs argues powerfully for a new co-operative, common-sense political economy, one that stresses practical partnership between government and the private sector, demands competence in both arenas and occasionally insists on carefully chosen public and private sacrifices. In this new era of global capitalism, Sachs believes that we have to forget partisanship and solve these enormous problems together, clinically and holistically, just as one would approach the eradication of a disease.

THE PRICE OF CIVILIZATION explains how government can be made to reform corporate culture by fairly policing compensation but not stifling competition and forced to improve our energy infrastructure by both taxing emissions and providing market incentives for innovation. Sachs shows how government, business and citizens can find common ground - on bank accountability, the decentralising of social services and taxing the super-rich - as a way to achieve our shared goals of efficiency, equity and sustainability.

Sparing no-one but potentially benefiting us all, THE PRICE OF CIVILIZATION is a masterful roadmap, a programme designed to bridge seemingly impossible divides in our society and a way forward that we - and our leaders - ignore at our peril.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bodley Head (6 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847920926
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847920928
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 253,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The author draws social, political, demographic, economic and intellectual threads together to weave a powerful narrative explaining why and how the US has changed" (Dan O' Brien Irish Times)

"Sachs by his life and his writing goes far to restore one's wavering faith in the informing inspiration of the post-1945 new dawn, faith in economics, faith in America and faith in humanity... Scholarly, original, independent, rigorous, enlightened and enlightening" (Peter Jay Spectator)

"The Price of Civilization has the air of the world traveller who returns home to find his country a much worse place than he remembered... This is such an important book" (Martin Sandbu Financial Times Weekend)

"Eloquently written, the book is graced with optimism about overcoming the current crisis and redeeming our trust in democracy and equality" (Good Book Guide)

"The economic critique stands on its own merits" (Oliver Kamm The Times)

Book Description

THE PRICE OF CIVILIZATION reveals why we must - and how we can - change our entire economic culture in this time of crisis.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doomed again... 27 Oct 2011
By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The title of Jeffery Sachs' book is taken from a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr:

'I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilisation.' (P210)

That is the key theme of this book. Although centrally concerned with the current state of the USA, it is clear that many of his criticisms of the USA can also be levelled at other countries that have embraced the neoliberal doctrines of the 1980s.

The book starts by charting the, by now, well mapped route that has led us to the current economic mess. Things started going seriously pear-shaped in the 1970s, with Nixon effectively tearing up the post-World War 2 Bretton Woods agreement:

'...the Bretton Woods dollar-exchange system collapsed, basically because America's inflationary monetary and budget policies during the Vietnam War era were destabilizing the world economy. The United States abandoned its monetary links with gold on August 15, 1971. Inflation soared worldwide as the major market economies searched for a new approach to the global monetary system.' (P29-30)

Later in that same decade, of course, came the dreaded 'stagflation' as oil prices surged. In the UK we saw, on the one hand, a rise in union militancy and, on the other, a growing disillusionment with and a reaction against state planning and the 'mixed economy'. In economics, the ideas of Hayek and Friedman appeared to offer solutions - minimising the role of the state would allow the creativity of the free market to regenerate the economy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The world at times seems to have gone crazy and Jeffrey Sachs, who I've long admired from his stints on Bloomberg, diagnoses the problems. He always strikes me as an inherently decent and compassionate person and this comes through in strong measure in the book. Whilst it is nice for people to be wealthy this cannot be achieved in a vacuum separate from society, and ultimately happiness comes from family and societal behaviours rather than immense wealth. Sachs illustrates countless cases where the obvious and democratic choices are completely ignored by the American ruling elite of both parties as they strive to keep their funding base happy and appease short-termism constantly with vote grabbing tax cuts, with little done to maintain or enhance the underlying fabric and long term pillars of society. The rampant commercialism that has been unleashed over the last 40 years is laid bare along with a host of statistics and graphs to prove his points. The first half of the book may make you angry however only by knowing the facts and seeing with clearer vision can we move forward in the second half Sachs details measures he believes will help address the malaise. Overall, a superb read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A plan for the world 16 Nov 2011
By fpic
Although this is directed at the United States its diagnosis and conclusions are relevant throughout the developed world. One fears, however, that the malign forces he so skilfully exposes will block the reforms he advocates.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars diagnosis of the US and solution 15 Jan 2012
By Jonah
This book is about what to do to correct the three decades of mistakes by Reagan politics which has been characterised by an unprecedented inequality. Tax cut only for the rich, deregulation, and unfettered belief about the market power do everything right has been the dominant ideology among both sides of the Atlantic. This is not a new idea now as we already saw the Occupy movements around the world from London, Seoul to New York. The new point of the author's argument lies with the statement that we are entering a new era where Asia, which before the 18th century accounted for more than half of production of the world, once again becomes a powerful region.Mass job loss and an increasing pay gap between skilled and unskilled labour market are explained in terms of Asia's economic resurgence. During the 1980s developed nations such as the United States should have invested more heavily on education and put in place some job sharing scheme similar to that of Germans. However the United States and the United Kingdom were eager to please business classes. They selected job cuts and tax cut for the rich. The result is mass unemployment among the working class and a new Gilded age for Americans. The author also describes and criticises the moneyed interests of corporate America. Lobbying firms and revolving door system between lobbyists and politicians put American politics in the grip of corporations.

The most powerful is the traditional military industrial complex. They have been thriving on wars in the middle east contracting out defence work project. Financial industry also became a powerful player in Washington. The industry received bailout money and continued massive executive compensation payment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book provides an excellent description of the problems America (and other Western nations, perticularly the UK) has with the way democracy works - or, to be more exact, doesn't work. It provides a lot of supporting evidence to back up the central thesis that America is a corporatocracy rather than a democracy and suggests some solutions. It also calls for a rather 'New Labour' approach to economic and social justice issues, perhaps less convincingly in my personal view. One could easily think that the 'New Labour' approach to poverty issues had been a great success in the UK and EU and that the way to eradicate poverty issues was simply to throw money at them - a naive solution, as we increasingly know from our UK experience, since a lot of poverty is not financial in the first place. That said, I have always personally admired the author as a man of enormous compassion and wisdom and this book does not change that opinion of him as one of America's finest.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Etatismus in Reinkultur
Jeffrey Sachs, Hochschulprofessor, Buchautor und umtriebiger Multifunktionär, erhebt in diesem Werk, wie schon zuvor in The End of Poverty", nicht nur die Forderung nach einer... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Andreas Tögel
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing insight intro the American society
Jeffrey Sachs book give an easy to understand diagnose of the background for the economic status of America. It was difficult to put the bookdown, When first startet. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lotte Holm-Nielsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and frightening.
An extremely well-written and informative account of the ills which are crippling the polity of the USA. Read more
Published 17 months ago by J P Jones
2.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves
I wanted to take Jeff Sachs's course in college, but he was never there to teach it. He was too busy saving the world, and the Eastern Block countries in particular, to turn up... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Athan
4.0 out of 5 stars It will never happen.
Jeffrey Sachs is a macro economist who not only sees the big picture clearly, he writes about it in clear, elegant and easy to read terms. Read more
Published on 11 Mar 2012 by Duncan Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine book but very USA-centric
This is a useful and stimulating book. There is a paradox, though, in its moral concerns about capitalism, in that the book has tried to hide the fact that it is almost exclusively... Read more
Published on 31 Dec 2011 by Derek
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