The 2008 presidential campaign ended with a sharp moral debate about the distribution of wealth in the United States. In a timely and provocative work of empirically-grounded social criticism, Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly’s new book Unjust Deserts provides powerful new ammunition in that debate. At the center of their argument is the economic impact of socially-created knowledge. As people have solved numerous problems that bewildered and plagued those before us, we have accumulated an immense “stock of knowledge” which now plays a central role in economic growth and is largely responsible for the real income gains that separated the twentieth century from all that came before. This stock of knowledge is a social inheritance, nurtured by governments, institutions, and culture, and created by many generations of people. And yet even as our economic growth has become so highly socialized through the impact of expanding knowledge, the fruits of knowledge—the wealth being generated by knowledge-based growth—flows increasingly to the top. A new aristocracy is reaping huge unearned gains from our collective intellectual wealth.
Copies of Unjust Deserts will be available for purchase.