Jacked by Nomi Prins
Going through the contents of a typical wallet (driver’s license, student ID, etc.) Prins points out the many ways you are getting screwed. This small book is loaded with the stories of real, average Americans. On affording college: “Financial barriers keep almost half of college-qualified graduates from low income families from going to a four-year college, and almost a quarter from attending any college at all.”
The Divine Right of Capital by Marjorie Kelly
A brilliant book in which Kelly points out that our financial rules rest upon very tenuous presumptions. Presently, “employees don’t appear on the balance sheet at all.” This is in keeping with our “feudal” corporate equation, but it need not be so. “An equation is simply an equation. We can draw it any way we like.” The presumptions we base our society on are not immutable.
False Dawn by John Gray
Economist Gray called the American economy a “bubble economy” 10 years before the 2008 housing bubble burst. He doesn’t buy the love fest between capitalism and democracy: “Democracy and the free market are competitors rather than partners.” A dark, but thought-provoking book.
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
The journalist and Ph.D. cell biologist tries to live on low-paying jobs. She discovers that unskilled jobs often require quite a lot of skill. One of her conclusions is that we live off the largesse of the working poor, rather than the other way around. The working poor are the “major philanthropists of our society…”
Capital by Thomas Piketty
Studying economic data over more than a century, Picketty shows that huge inequalities are the result of factors (like education) that are well within our control. “A principle mechanism” to set this straight is education. “[T]he poor catch up with the rich to the extent that they achieve the same level of technical know-how, skill, and education…”
Capitalism Hits the Fan by Richard D. Wolff
The socialist economist breaks down not only the huge crisis of 2008, but also the type of bloated corporate capitalism that led to it. When wages flat-lined beginning in the mid-70’s, companies suddenly found themselves with enormous amounts of capital, which in turn led to the exaggerated importance of financial markets. This is a fair-minded, unblinking, and very insightful analysis of corporate capitalism’s flaws.
Griftopia by Matt Taibbi
The second chapter in the book is called The Biggest Asshole in the Universe (about Alan Greenspan), to give you an idea of what you are in for. Profane and hilarious, the Rolling Stone writer lucidly explains the 2008 financial meltdown. “Our real government is mostly kept hidden from view, and the truly weighty decisions about where our society is going and what rules it is going to live by are made mostly in private.”