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Them And Us: Changing Britain - Why We Need a Fair Society Hardcover – 30 Sep 2010


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Them And Us: Changing Britain - Why We Need a Fair Society + Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class + The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st edition (30 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408701510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408701515
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'A tract for our times - passionate, erudite, with much common sense' --Robert Skidelsky, Guardian

Book Description

* An incisive look at how our society has fragmented into inequality and how to address this most crucial blight on our times

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Will Hutton's book attempts a comprehensive analysis not just of the financial crisis but of British society as a whole. Along with the analysis, he puts forward a detailed list of possible remedies. He aims to be as non-partisan as possible. As he says:

"...the proposition in this book is that neither the force of the market nor the capitalists and entrepreneurs who powered it would have been possible without the new Enlightenment openness and a range of emergent Enlightenment public democratic institutions." (P 122)

He thus bases his arguments in theories of social justice and, above all, the idea of 'just deserts' - that people have an innate sense of justice and fairness that has been warped by the politics of the last thirty years or more.

In the first part of the book, he attempts to reach an 'Understanding [of] Fairness'. He considers the ideas of John Rawls which he believes typifies the thinking of those on the left of the political spectrum and the ideas of Robert Nozick for those on the right. Applying these, along with modern, more psychological theories of 'just deserts', he analyses what he considers to be the unbalanced economy of the UK with its dependence on financial services and abandonment of manufacturing and technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 9 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Renowned commentator Will Hutton has written a brilliant book on Britain today. Wide-ranging, it covers the economic crisis, politics, society, education, and the ongoing technological revolution.

He denounces the destructive power of `the financial, media and bureaucratic elites' (a long-winded way of saying `ruling class'). He notes that the rich avoid £12.9 billion a year in tax and that a third of our top 700 companies pay no tax.

He points out that hedge funds buying credit default swaps [CDSs] in huge volumes triggered both the banking crisis and Europe's sovereign debt crisis. Their buying of CDSs on Greek government debt in April forced the huge IMF/EU bailout of Greece.

Debt and debt-related building and real estate services accounted for half Britain's growth between 1997 and 2007. Two-thirds of loans were house mortgages and a fifth was in commercial property, while manufacturing's share of output fell by two-fifths to 12 per cent, the world's fastest fall.

The crisis cost us 10 per cent of output, £1 trillion, smashing the myth of a golden age based on financial services, open markets and an endless credit and property boom. Then we gave the bankers £1.3 trillion, worldwide, £14 trillion.

Even the Bank of England says that another crunch is highly likely. £530 billion of corporate debt has to be refinanced by 2015 before any new money will be lent. Europe's private-equity firms have to repay £185 billion by 2016, yet in 2009 they paid back just £4 billion.

Hutton writes sensibly, "The rise of the BNP cannot be explained by saying that Britain is suddenly more racist than it used to be.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By david ramsay on 7 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Will Hutton has written an interesting book and lavishes a lot of detail (maybe too much) on the subject of the financial crash, its reasons and its aftermath and makes a strong point for a fairer, more balanced society. The underlying truisms such as banker greed, the role of the media and the inertia of politicians who can only manage now rather than apply any vision are all well analysed. But "fairness" is a word used ever more frequently by the media,politicians and business people and is beginning to have a hollow ring about it. Nevertheless the book is well worth the read and it provokes thought and not a little anger at times.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Adrian I. Skilling on 17 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
I just heard Will Hutton speak about this book at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

In many places I agreed with him but he was ultimately very disappointing. While he talks the talk on fairness, income equality and need for the NHS, etc... due to his inherent belief in capitalism, infinite growth and Conservatism he can't bring himself to suggest much in the way of regulation to deal with the problems.

He talks a lot about fairness and give it a solid basis in economics. But ultimately its about moral judgements. Economists don't like moral judgements interfering with their 'Science'.

To give some instances:

- He thought large high min and max wage multiples were wrong but didn't think we should regulate them. Only that we might track it within individual companies - that doesn't achieve much. Plus he thought Wayne Roonie was worth his approx. £13m salary since he trains hard and performs! (seems to ruin his argument, perhaps he doesn't want to critise popular footballers).

- He thought that immigrants shouldn't receive full benefits for health care and housing until they had lived here for say a few years because they hadn't earned it. By this logic my new born baby shouldn't recieve childcare benefit until she was two say! And just what are these immigrants supposed to live on?

- Sustainability. While Will gave all the reasons why a return to growth might be tricky, i.e. massive private and public debt, steeply declining North Sea oil and gas, high oil prices, global warming, etc... he just believed it would return with no real basis for thinking so. He couldn't answer the question about how infinite growth was possible in a finite World.
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