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Brian Alexander is the author of Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion

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Virallinen nimi
Alexander, Brian Robert



Brian Alexander’s provocative book, “Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town” takes the measure of capital as a malevolent force in American society. He draws a line from the Wall Street raiders of the 1970’s to the decay and decline of the American industrial heartland.

Alexander’s book should be read along side Arlie Russell Hochschield’s “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger on the American Right.” Hochschield aims her sharpest arrows at the American chemical industry for their willful disregard of the ecology of the Deep South, their despoliation of the bayou, the swamps, and the wetlands adjoining their chemical plants and depots.

In “Glass House” we have an Ohio town that struck it rich in the early 1900’s when landowners discovered a rich and cheap reservoir of natural gas and parlayed it into a strong glass industry. They built their plants, they hired their workers, and things seemed to be going along tickety-boo until Carl Icahn arrived with a plan to blast open their companies to “unlock shareholder value” trapped in the aging corporations.

After a series of mismanaged takeovers, plant closures, and bankruptcies, the workers are left with worse wages, few benefits, and no security. Their municipality having given huge tax concessions to the new shareholders are facing bankruptcy as well. And community services consist largely of jailing drug abusers and drug dealers. There is little opportunity for the residents, so they either drift into crime and they drift to nearby Columbus.

Then business turns south, the outsiders blame government taxes, greedy unions, foreign competition, and lazy workers for their misfortunes.

Alexander has a good point. There is a connection between business and the communities they serve. I emphasize the communities they SERVE. The community isn’t just another asset to squeeze.

But is this the whole story?

Just before reading this book I also read “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American innovation,” by Jon Gertner. Long before AT&T was broken up by fiat of Congress, the telephone monopoly’s research subsidiary, Bell Labs, assembled the most extraordinary group of engineers, physicists, and chemists to tackle the thorniest problems the telephone company faced.

Bell’s scientists discovered the transistor, found ways to pump information through fibre optic cables, pioneered satellite communications, and developed the first cellphone network. While an employee of Bell Labs, Claude Shannon first put down his Information Theory and opened people’s eyes on how to convert all information into zero’s and ones, one of the foundations of today’s computer industry.

In the American context, capital has helped create some of the greatest wonders of the 20th and now the 21st century. Not always malevolent, you say.

The “All American town” of Alexander’s story, Lancaster, Ohio, is not so squeaky clean. It has a history of race baiting and social exclusion. Alexander starts the story long after the plains have been cleared of Amerindians, after Europeans stole the land for their own farmers.

The ugly side of America is also part of its heritage. Winner take all is as sacred as the Second Amendment. Are we so surprised it has spawned a predatory culture that feeds upon itself?
… (lisätietoja)
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MylesKesten | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 23, 2024 |
4.5 stars. Powerful, devastating, and depressing
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danielskatz | 11 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 26, 2023 |
There is nothing surprising about any of what the author writes or concludes--I think that's the main reason I give this study of American healthcare a four star. Otherwise, this work does an excellent job of highlighting the system's failings by illustrating the lives of those on the frontline. A good one for anyone that cares about the healthcare problems in the US.
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ProfH | 11 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 8, 2023 |
Many moments of excellence. but the detailed explanations of corporate activities were sometimes tedious. Still, the book is a great expanation of why the country is in the state it's in. I wish politicians would read this.
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texasstorm | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 10, 2023 |



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