Economic Apartheid in America: A primer on economic inequality and insecurity
Chuck Collins, Felice Yerkel et al.

This new work on economic apartheid by Chuck Collins and associates outlines the need to take action to close the widening gap between the rich and poor in America. It heralds a new movement for economic justice in the U.S moving towards a fair economy. America was blessed with the economic boom of the nineteen nineties.

When wealth became more and more concentrated in the hands of a selected few, while the majority were left behind without even a chance of discussing the fate of their economic lives. Collins quotes statistics to the effect that 20% of the world's population receives 82.7% of the total world income. The widening gap between the rich and the poor in the social strata is linked to globalization, which has now become a predominant world phenomenon.

Multinational corporations and their economic activities on a global scale had brought an economic divide between the rich nations and poor nations. Collins further mentions that Wal-Mart's sales in 1997 reached 119 billion dollars, which is more than the economies of 100 countries including Portugal, Israel and Ireland. Chuck Collins asserts, "As corporations become more powerful, they buy the media and utilize complex tactics to influence and shape public opinion and culture".

Wealthy entrepreneurs are able to control the resources and wealth of the world at the expense of a vast majority of exploited poor. Many of the tycoons happen to be in America. The rich enjoy the advantages of the unregulated free market. Even within the U.S, there are increased levels of inequality in income, wages, wealth and power that is evolving as an apartheid society.

However, now there is a greater awareness of this disparity and the opposition for it is on the rise. The French general strike, the street protests in Indonesia and the farmers and workers on the march in poor countries are instances of the gathering movement against economic apartheid. It has become necessary to subject powerful economic actions to democratic forces. The actions that generate inequality and environmental degradation have to be curtailed. The needs of the people should have top priority and not the interest of the rich and the powerful.

In Seattle recently, steps were taken to inaugurate the movement for a fair economy. It heralded the new movement for economic justice in the United States. The U.S. Catholic Bishops in a pastoral letter in 1986 said that' the economy should serve the people and the people should not be cat paws of the economy'. The new thinking expressed the view that economy should be reorganized around the values of strengthening communities and supporting families. It should be in harmony with the environment and foster democracy. It should be re-built on a more equitable and sustainable manner. The problem of inequality is the problem of dem

This new work is well written and illustrated with charts, graphs and political cartoons. It is intelligible to the layman and capable of attracting supporters for the "fair economy movement" that would usher in a new economic order in the U.S. Further it pronounces a plan for action to ensure a fairer world. It clearly brings forward the idea that too much inequality is bad for U.S. economy, democracy and culture.

Too much freedom for private enterprise should be halted in order to protect human values and quality of life. Corporations should not be tolerated to manipulate and keep the resources and wealth under their control. However, in his conclusion the author declares, "This book is not against rich people but against the structures of the economy that creates grotesque inequalities. Those who have benefited from the system have a great responsibility to repair the damage it causes and prevent it from causing further harm." I suppose this must have been the reason that impelled the world's richest man, Bill Gates to engage in massive rehabilitation projects in India to help the poor. The integral chapters focuses on major issues like consequences of growing inequality, economic insecurity , causes of inequality, the need for fair economy and the strategies for closing the gap between the rich and the poor.

The book is action packed and convincing. It is so effectively planned and presented so that it could win several followers who would be inspired to dedicate their lives to work for a fairer economy. In a gist, it is a mission call for justice in a world of injustice and insecurity.

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