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The Price of Prosperity: Why Rich Nations Fail and How to Renew Them    by Todd G. Buchhholz order for
Price of Prosperity
by Todd G. Buchhholz
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

In The Price of Prosperity: Why Rich Nations Fail and How to Renew Them, Todd Buchhholz delves into why prosperous nations encounter problems that eventually cause a major reversal of their fortunes.

Obviously there are multiple causes for this dilemma that has faced and continues to plague the countries which have managed to climb to the top of the economical pecking order. Key among these factors are falling birthrates, a rise in globalization, a decline in work, and an explosion of debt.

In explaining how these factors can cause economic, political and cultural cracks in the fašade of a successful nation, Buchholz not only looks at the present and what is occurring in the United States and other successful countries but he also cites examples from the past to show how what appear to be firm foundations have cracked under pressure and resulted in the declines of ancient Greece, the Hapsburg Empire and the Ming Dynasty.

The 'unraveling of a society', as the author calls it, can occur after a period of prosperity as well as a period of depression. In addition to the factors listed above, a cause of this undermining can be seen today by new technologies that tend to fragment and splinter a society rather than unify it.

This then results in individuals cheating, swindling and focusing on short term goals rather than long-term responsibilities. Rather than tackle problems that are facing the society down the road, the leaders are only interested in the here and now. In other words, kick the can down the road and let the next guy deal with Social Security shortfalls and a burgeoning debt.

In a year when immigration and free markets are some of the issues raised by the candidates in national elections in the United States and Europe, the reader may be interested to see what Buchholz has to say about what these concerns have to do with a country's strength or weakness.

Blending what history has taught us with concerns that have become part of the current political dialogue around the globe, The Price of Prosperity suggests it is time to stop, take stock of where we are and then decide what kind of future we want for ourselves and those who follow us.

It isn't too late to move in a new direction but the clock is ticking and if the prosperous nations of today continue on the current path they are following, the future might not be as rosy.

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