Tailspin : The People and Forces Behind America's Fifty-year Fall-and Those Fighting to Reverse It
by Brill, Steven

1 The Protected and the Unprotected3(14)
2 Meritocracy Becomes the New Aristocracy17(30)
3 Casino Country47(43)
4 The Greening of the First Amendment90(43)
5 Making Markets Efficient-and Marginalizing Those Left Behind133(15)
6 "Lip Service" for America's Workers148(21)
7 Dysfunctional Democracy169(28)
8 Moat Nation197(60)
9 Why Nothing Works257(33)
10 Broken290(23)
11 Protecting the Most Unprotected313(30)
12 Storming the Moats 33o
A Note on Methodology and Sources347(2)

The award-winning journalist and best-selling author of America's Bitter Pill explores the reasons why major American institutions are no longer able to function as intended and are triggering deep economic divides, in a sobering report that also traces the stories of individuals and organizations who are laying the foundations for sustainable change.

STEVEN BRILL has written for The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, New York, and Fortune. He founded and ran Court TV, The American Lawyer magazine, ten regional legal newspapers, and Brill's Content magazine. Brill was the author of Time's March 4, 2013, special report "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," for which he won the 2014 National Magazine Award for Public Service, and of the 2015 bestseller America's Bitter Pill. He has regularly appeared as an expert analyst on NBC, CBS, and CNN. He teaches journalism at Yale, where he founded the Yale Journalism Initiative to enable talented young people to become journalists. In 2018, he co-founded NewsGuard, which rates the legitimacy of online news sites. He lives in New York City.

*Starred Review* Seeking the causes of America's current malaise, high-profile legal journalist Brill (America's Bitter Pill, 2015) examines a half-century of interrelated structural changes in business, finance, and law, and diagnoses an autoimmune disorder of sorts, in which ingenuity and meritocracy have been inverted so as to impair, rather than enhance, the nation's health. He laments a broad-spectrum breakdown in things that the U.S. used to do well: infrastructure, banking, education, governance, public health, and basic civility. The problem, he suggests, is that the American machine may have worked too well, allowing a small number of bright, driven people to amass enough wealth and sophistication to master its levers and destroy any threats to their power. Thus, innovations in executive compensation lead to corporate raiding and routine downsizing. Lawyers are pushed to find creative new ways to maximize their clients' wealth. Hard-won advances in free speech and due process are co-opted to advance corporate interests. It's a bleak assessment, but a penetrating one, in large part because of Brill's skill in presenting abstruse legal and financial developments in an accessible manner. And if his proposed remedies seem thin, that only underscores how effectively Brill has presented the challenges ahead in this clarifying and invaluable overview. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A broken nation requires crucial changes.For the last 50 years, journalist and political analyst Brill (Journalism/Yale Univ.; America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Back-Room Deals, and the Fight to Fix the Broken Health Care System, 2015, etc.) argues, the United States has been deteriorating. Besides a blighted health care system, the author points to other major problems, including underperforming public schools; outdated mass transit systems and power grids; crumbling bridges, highways, and airports; snowballing income inequality; high infant mortality and low life expectancy when compared with other Western countries; political gridlock; voter cynicism and apathy; and lobbyists' power over elected officials. He blames "the polarization and paralysis of American democracy" partly on a "new aristocracy of rich knowledge workers," high-achieving, well-educated individuals who have gravitated to law and finance, inventing financial instruments and corporate legal defenses that fed greed but "deadened incentives for the long-term development and growth of the rest of the economy." Brill calls these individuals, who want to hold onto their wealth, the "protected," as opposed to the rest of society, "the unprotected," who need government to act for the common good. The author offers ample evidence that American democracy is in peril. Less persuasive is his optimism that problems can be solved through the efforts of earnest, sometimes influential individuals. Dennis Kelleher, for example, is president of a nonprofit organization called Better Markets, whose goal is to monitor and influence the financial industry. Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, lobbies for implementation of policy: "the unglamorous challenges of making government work," which involves training managers, senior civil servants, and deputy secretaries in all cabinet departments. Lawyer Philip Howard is a writer and speaker whose book T h e Death of Common Sense (1995) became a bestseller. Such individuals' efforts, however inspiring they are, seem hardly enough to lead to massive overhauls of infrastructure (Brill proposes a gas tax for that) or systemic changes in education and health care. A hard-hitting, mostly convincing analysis of endemic problems that will require further intensive study. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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