Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take It Back

Gar Alperovitz (Author) Lew Daly (Author)
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Warren Buffett is worth nearly $50 billion. Does he "deserve" all this money? Buffett himself will tell you that "society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned."

Unjust Deserts offers an entirely new approach to the wealth question. In a lively synthesis of modern economic, technological, and cultural research, Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly demonstrate that up to 90 percent (and perhaps more) of current economic output derives not from individual ingenuity, effort, or investment but from our collective inheritance of scientific and technological knowledge: an inheritance we all receive as a "free lunch."

Alperovitz and Daly then pursue the implications of this research, persuasively arguing that there is no reason any one person should be entitled to that inheritance. Recognizing the true dimensions of our unearned inheritance leads inevitably to a new and powerful moral case for wealth redistribution--and to a series of practical policies to achieve it in an era when the disparities have become untenable.

Product Details

$17.95  $16.51
New Press
Publish Date
December 01, 2009
5.1 X 0.6 X 7.9 inches | 0.55 pounds
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About the Author

GAR ALPEROVITZ is the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland. Among his many books are The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and Rebuilding America (with Jeff Faux). His articles have appeared in Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Atlantic Monthly. He is also a founding principal of the Democracy Collaborative.

Lew Daly is a senior fellow at Demos, a nonpartisan public policy research and advocacy organization. He is the author, most recently, of Unjust Deserts.


...convincingly demonstrates that knowledge is the primary source of our national wealth - Bill Moyers
The moral conclusion is unmistakable: society itself is the source of wealth, and all of us deserve an equal share. - Howard Zinn
Unjust Deserts is an elegant work of moral philosophy... - James K. Galbraith, Professor of Government, The University of Texas at Austin
...deeply informed and carefully argued study of the social and historical factors that enter into creative achievement... - Noam Chomsky

Agree or disagree, you will see the world differently after you have read this book. - William A. Galston, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
The viewpoint presented in this important and provocative book should alter the current public discourse on income distribution. - Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, 1972
This is one of the most original and most intelligent works on economic justice I have read in many years. - Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan and Professor of History, Georgetown University
...authors strike upon a vital topic when they highlight the need for the benefits from productivity gains to be shared... -- Mark Engler
Deliciously subversive. The authors lace their narrative with fascinating asides... and statistics that give their story plenty of dramatic oomph.