Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 388
The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism by Robert B. Reich was published in 1991. Even though the book was published over twenty years ago, we see that many of Reich's financial predictions were indeed correct and that his work is still quite relevant today.
There are many ideas packed into this book, and Reich covers a lot of territory. Something he notices and expresses concern about is the growing divide between the rich and the poor. Reich believes that
All Americans used to be in the same economic boat. Most rose or fell together, as the corporations in which they were employed, the industries comprising such corporations, and the national economy as a whole became more productive—or languished. . . . We are now in different boats, one sinking rapidly, one sinking more slowly, and the third rising steadily.
This new economic diversity is exacerbating already existing divides between social groups in America. This ties in with another theme in the book: immigration. Reich shows us that it is economically beneficial for all concerned when immigrants are welcomed and assimilated into the American population. Raich knows that some Americans have objected to this idea, but
Other Americans devised a more constructive approach. The goal was to cultivate in the immigrants a love and respect for their newly adopted country, along with an ability to speak its language and function as productive citizens.
Raich also speaks a bit about the development of interstates in the 1950s. This new national highway system consisted of a total of 40,000 miles; it
was called the National Defense Highway Act and justified in the halls of Congress as a means of speeding munitions across the nation in the event of war.
Although the project was ostensibly conceived of and built for the government's use during times of emergency, four-lane freeways changed the lives of many American drivers.
Globalization and its far-reaching effects on all countries is also a frequent theme in Raich's work, and by his reckoning,
There is no longer any reason for the US to protect, subsidize, or otherwise support its corporations above all others.
Since nothing is wholly made in one place anymore, what does American-made even mean? Reich believes that it is essential for citizens to consider themselves in terms of a global economy rather than a national one.