Beth Kanter
Chief Advocacy & Strategic Communications Officer

8 Storytellers Informing How We've Been Reimagining Capitalism in 2019

December 5, 2019

As we get ready to head home for the holidays, many of us are stockpiling books to cozy up with in front of the fire. If you’re like our Reimagining Capitalism team, your reading list is short on pulp and long on economic theory. We admit — and embrace — that we like to geek out even on our time off.

We know that a major reason why neoliberalism caught fire in the 1970s and burned through our society in the 80s (and still runs hot) was its widespread reach into the cultural zeitgeist.

If we’re going to change the narrative and put forth a new idea of capitalism that harnesses the power of markets to produce inclusive and equitable growth; empower individuals; and promote societal well-being, then we’d better be reading, listening, and watching all of the smart thinking that will help get us there.

Here are some of our favorites from 2019 that have informed our thinking:

  1. Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present and Future of American Labor by Steven Greenhouse — From the longtime New York Times labor correspondent, an in-depth look at working men and women in America, the challenges they face, and how they can be re-empowered.
  2. Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do about It by Heather Boushey — From one of Washington’s most influential voices on economic policy (and an Omidyar Network grantee!), a lively and original argument that reducing inequality is not only fair but also key to delivering broadly shared economic growth and stability.
  3. The 1619 Project from The New York Times — The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.
  4. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land — Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land’s memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Omidyar Network was thrilled to invite Stephanie as the keynote speaker at the launch of our Job Quality Survey with Gallup.
  5. Better Public Schools Won’t Fix Income Inequality by Nick Hanauer in the July 2019 issue of The Atlantic — “…educationism is tragically misguided. American workers are struggling in large part because they are underpaid — and they are underpaid because 40 years of trickle-down policies have rigged the economy in favor of wealthy people like me.”
  6. Economics After Neoliberalism Forum in the Boston Review by Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrik, Gabriel Zucman and others — Contemporary economics is finally breaking free from its market fetishism, offering plenty of tools we can use to make society more inclusive.
  7. Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System that Rules the World by Branko Milankovic — A provocative account of capitalism’s rise to global dominance and, as different models of capitalism vie for world leadership, a look into what the future may hold.
  8. Against the Rules (podcast) by Michael Lewis — Journalist and bestselling author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, Moneyball) takes a searing look at what’s happened to fairness — in financial markets, newsrooms, basketball games, courts of law, and much more. And he asks what’s happening to a world where everyone loves to hate the referee.

Additionally, if you’re interested in technology, platforms, and connectivity, here’s a second list of recommendations on responsible technology that captured our attention this year. 

Happy holidays and happy reading (and listening)!

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