The Common Good Book Summary By Robert B. Reich

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The Common Good, published in 2018, takes a critical look at our current society and calls for all Americans to recognize the importance of the collective good.

It paints a picture of how our country has been operating as “whatever-it-takes-to-win” mentality and encourages readers to work toward restoring a sense of community in order to re-establish the common good.

Through anecdotes, evidence, and stories that weave through the chapters, the author not only explains why it is important to rekindle our sense of the common good but also offers practical advice around what actions we can take and how we can start creating real change today.

The Common Good Book

Book Name: The Common Good (Spread the word of the good deed before it’s too late)

Author(s): Robert B. Reich

Rating: 3.8/5

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

Categories: Philosophy

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Author Bio

The Common Good is written by Robert Reich, who holds the position of professor in public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

He has a number of highly successful and acclaimed books to his name, one of them being the best-selling Saving Capitalism.

During Bill Clinton's presidency, he was appointed as Secretary of Labor – further testament to his extensive knowledge of and experience with all things related to labor.

Rediscovering The Common Good: What Happened To America’s Core Values?

Common Good

The common good, a fundamental element of the American way of life, is quickly vanishing.

Large metropolis cities and the rise of capitalism have encouraged individual profit over collective benefit.

But it’s not too late to restore it- all we have to do is spread the word about the importance of the common good before it’s gone for good.

By understanding what constituted the common good, you’ll start to realize why it matters so much and understand how some people exploit it for their personal gain.

You can also find out about how certain pharmaceutical drugs are sold at ridiculous prices, such as $750 per pill!

All in all, learning how people view the actions of our US government is important knowledge that should be shared with others.

So rather than letting this concept become a thing of fairy tales or old history books, why not inform your loved ones and fellow citizens about why supporting the common good still has relevance today? By taking action now to ensure its preservation, everybody involved can help make a difference.

The Significance Of The Common Good In Society: How It Determines Our Values, Rights And Responsibilities

The Common Good outlines just how important morality and shared ideals are when it comes to a functioning society.

It stresses the need for citizens to uphold values such as freedom, fairness, equality, respect for others and trust in public institutions.

These common goals are based on the works of philosophers of the French Enlightenment and religious devotion.

This notion is entrenched in James Madison’s declaration that “the public good and real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued.”

Ultimately, these ideals are essential for societies to survive –– without them, everyone would essentially be looking out for themselves in a chaotic jungle where only those who were strongest or wealthiest were able to make it through unscathed.

When these moral values become part of everyday life, we see progress rather than corruption and chaos.

The concept of The Common Good sums up the ideals and values that enable our societies to thrive.

Questioning The Validity Of The Common Good In A Society Of Exploitation

There are some people who don’t believe in or exploit the concept of the common good.

This is best exemplified by Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick, both twentieth-century intellectuals whose philosophies denied that any government action aimed at promoting the general welfare was beneficial.

Rand believed that any order given by the government to transfer funds to others under the claim of the common good only resulted in tyranny, while Nozick argued that it was inconceivable to be obligated to ration one’s own earnings for everyone else’s benefit.

Moreover, these philosophers saw it as a concept that could easily be exploited, which would then make it impossible for the common good to sustain itself.

For example, if everyone in a small town trusts each other not to steal from each other but then a thief arrives and takes advantage of this trust, it will break down the common good.

Similarly, when retired members of Congress become lobbyists for industries they once supported or CEOs hand themselves unreasonable compensations, potential exploitation sets in and individuals lose trust in each other- further stifling their faith in the common good.

The Common Good Has Become An Outdated Value In America: Martin Shkreli And Other Examples Show That We Have Forgotten Our Duty To Look Out For Each Other

Martin Shkreli

What was once a cornerstone of American society is quickly becoming a lost concept: The common good.

In the past, protecting the wellbeing of one’s family, community, and nation went beyond profit — it was seen as an intrinsic duty of every citizen.

However, this no longer appears to be the case nowadays.

Martin Shkreli is proof that this trend exists on a large scale.

His famous decision to increase prices for Daraprim by 5,000%, at the expense of vulnerable people without toxoplasmosis, reveals how much value he put on profits rather than protecting the people his product served.

Other, even more notorious examples of people and companies ignoring the common good are easy to find – take the Wall Street bankers responsible for crashing the economy in 2008 or politicians bought out by wealthy donors with selfish motives who pass laws that negatively affect most citizens.

Other perpetrators include doctors who prescribe unnecessary medication for personal gain or directors turning a blind eye to sexual harassment charges against powerful film producers.

It is clear that in America today, there is no place for values such as compassion and dignity: things that form part of what is known as ‘the common good’.

How America Lost The Common Good: Exploring The Rise Of “Whatever-It-Takes” Attitude

The past few decades have seen the gradual erosion of the common good as immoral acts continue to pave the way for future misbehavior.

This is exemplified by events such as the Nixon administration’s covert mission (Watergate) and subsequent administrations who have followed suit, breaking pledges of campaign contributions or increasing white resentment against minorities with false accusations of illegal voting.

Corporate raiders in the 80s were also prime examples of this, setting up takeovers to gain control and instate CEOs who prioritized maximizing profits over anything else.

This created a chain reaction: wages were reduced, employees were laid off, automation replaced human jobs, communities were abandoned and factories closed all in pursuit of short-term gains.

Examples like that of Jack Welch at GE show just how damaging this approach can be in real life.

These behaviors no longer raise eyebrows as much as they used to, something that needs to be changed in order to help reinstate the importance of “the common good.” This issue needs to be addressed for our society to move forward in a healthy manner.

How American Society Lost The Common Good And How To Restore It

The mentality of ‘whatever-it-takes’ in business and politics has had a dramatic impact on American society.

This attitude has had serious consequences for the majority of Americans, leading to an average household worth 14% less than in 1984.

In addition, the wealthiest 0.1 percent have amassed wealth equal to that of the lower 90 percent combined.

The effects are much more direct as well; most people now work more hours and take less vacation or sick days.

20% of Americans are only working part-time while 2/3 are living paycheck to paycheck – it’s clear to see how this attitude has driven our economy further towards instability and inequality.

Moreover, trust in government, businesses, media and science is eroding rapidly due to the “whatever-it-takes” attitude forcing itself into traditional systems.

In 1963 nearly 60% of people believed that the government would do what was best for them, now this belief is hovering at 19%.

The same can be said for big corporations too – confidence dropped from more than 60% to 10%.

Trust in newspapers, television is also plummeting so something must be done about it if we want our society operate properly again.

Therefore it’s evident that if this mindset isn’t changed soon, all of us will suffer from its repercussions down the road.

Restoring The Common Good: The Need For Virtuous Leaders And The Appropriate Use Of Honor And Shame

 Virtuous Leaders

If we want to bring back the common good, we need more than just legislation and policies; there needs to be a consensus in order for them to carry any weight.

One of the key pieces of this puzzle is the need for virtuous leaders — people in government, major business leaders, unions, universities, charities, etc.

— who will be custodians of the societal norms that used to enforce the common good.

We should not assume that because economic and political competitors use whatever it takes tactics that our public figures must do the same.

The public has a commitment to the common good and would rather have their leaders act with responsibility and civility rather than try to win at all costs.

In addition to taking charge and punishing those who exploit public trust, another way of reinstating the common good is by reversing how honor and shame are used.

Nowadays, we often see those with wealth and power honored while those doing good service such as nurses, doctors or teachers are ignored.

To put it simply: if we want to bring back social good then those worthy of honor should receive it instead of those exploiting it for personal gain.

We Have A Duty To Uphold The Truth And Promote Education For The Common Good

The common good relies on two important elements: education and a commitment to truth.

Without truth, democratic decisions can’t be made, which is why it’s so crucial that we have access to reliable facts and information.

This responsibility falls on individuals, the media, heads of business and nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and government agencies.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s disregard for the truth is not only influencing his own decisions but has caused many media outlets to be motivated by shareholders rather than pursuing the truth in their publications.

To counteract this trend, we need to prioritize education so that our society as a whole can learn how to discern real from fabricated news stories.

Further, learning about justice and rights which underpin democracy should become part of any education system.

Education not only helps us stay informed about what is true or false, hence upholding the common good through individual choices; but also serves as an investment into our society when looked at holistically – if education was viewed as purely private investments why would taxpayers be required to pay for them? Therefore it is our duty as citizens of a society not just to vote and pay taxes but above all take care of our public institutions by investing in education while accepting its importance with regard to truth-finding and upholding the common good.

Wrap Up

At the end of his book, The Common Good, author Henry Johnstone Jr.

reaffirms his message – that the US society has been built on values, beliefs and commitments to each other since its inception in the 1980s.

However, he maintains that the nation is currently lacking in terms of virtuous leaders, quality education, and a total commitment to truth-telling.

To combat this issue, Johnstone emphasizes the urgency of practicing and promoting the common good in order to secure our collective future.

In light of this insight, he argues that Americans must refocus away from individual gain and instead dedicate their energy to restoring a shared understanding of our nation’s best potentials.

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Arturo Miller

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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