Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East by Clyde Prestowitz (Basic Books, 278 pages, $26.95)
Globalization: Why It Works by Martin Wolf (Yale University Press, 398 pages, $30.00)
Will the United States benefit from the new wave of globalization sweeping the economy, as it did from earlier ones? Or will America instead see its prosperity and economic power slip away as jobs, technology, income, and wealth shift to Asia?
In December 1992, according to Bob Woodward's The Agenda, President-elect Bill Clinton was about to announce Laura Tyson's appointment as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, when Tyson mentioned she and Robert Reich had debated in The American Prospect whether the nationality of a ﬁrm was important. Suddenly recalling the debate, Clinton said, “You know what? You were right, and [Reich] was wrong.” So we decided to ask them now: Bob Reich, were you wrong? Laura Tyson, were you right?
Before enactment of Medicare in 1965, few elderly persons had reliable health insurance. When insurance was available, it was expensive and limited, and its renewal was uncertain. As a consequence, nearly 50 percent of the elderly had no health insurance at all, and faced bankruptcy from the costs of serious illness. Medicare provided all elderly Americans 65 or older with health coverage if they or their spouse had worked in a job subject to payroll taxation. As a reliable source of basic health insurance for the elderly, the Medicare program has been a tremendous success. Today, however, Medicare faces formidable challenges: an inadequate benefits package, an inefficient system of delivery, and a long-term budget gap.
Like "Engine" Charlie Wilson, the colorful chief executive of General Motors in the years after World War II, most Americans intuitively assume that what is good for American companies like GM is good for the nation. The competitiveness of the U.S. economy, most Americans believe, means the competitiveness of corporations based in the United States. This identity of interests has been so widely taken for granted that only a few theoreticians of the obvious, like Engine Charlie and Calvin Coolidge ("The business of America is business"), have ever seen a need to express it.