Our economic system isn’t working for most of humanity. Governments have long kicked the can on major problems with band-aids, rather than undertake the required investments and deliver necessary systems change. The coronavirus has laid the folly plain.
Pandemic Capitalism looks at this mess from a systems lens and offers possibilities for paths forward that would be more sustainable and just than the outcomes we currently endure.
I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
As a public health and business student, I was intrigued when I saw the title of this book. As we have all seen, COVID-19 has made a huge impact on our society, and I was intrigued to learn more.
Objectively, this book was excellently written. I loved his use of quotes at the beginning of each chapter, and he did a phenomenal job using sources throughout his writing. Probably a fourth of the pages of this book were reference pages with citations and additional notes. He raised many valid points about America’s society and the significant problems that COVID presented us on an economic and social level.
That being said, my one big problem with this book was that his solution was a universal basic income (UBI), where everyone gets a certain amount of money each month that would ensure basic living expenses were paid for. He did an excellent job arguing for this, but my concern is that he never mentioned equipping people to take care of themselves. Instead it was just giving everyone a UBI. My thoughts turned back to the saying, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” If we do not equip people to pursue careers that can sustain them and manage their money well, then even if we give them a UBI each month, they will still be just as unable to care for themselves. And what happens if the money goes away?
The other issue I had with this book was that it felt like the author was using an exception to create a rule. The premise was that many of the problems created by COVID could have been prevented or lessened if UBIs were in place. However, COVID is an unprecedented event. The closest thing we can really compare it to is the influenza outbreak in the early 1900s. While it is something that we do need to learn from, I would be hesitant to base a case on the occurrences of the last few months.
Overall, it was a well written book full of interesting points. The author did a good job of making his content academic and informed, but still understandable by those who are not experts in the field of economics.