Did profit-taking sap US industry?; The Deindustrialization of America, by Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison. New York: Basic Books Inc. 323 pp. $19.95.
What's wrong with the US economy? Economics Profs. Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison reject the idea that Japanese competition or a ''spiritual decay'' among American workers lies at the root of the problem. Instead, they blame ''deindustrialization'' - a ''widespread, systematic disinvestment in the nation's basic productive capacity.''
In essence, the authors accuse large US companies of using older industries as ''cash cows,'' milking profits for use in other businesses rather than reinvesting them for modernization. They say such capital flight has been facilitated by recent improvements in communications and transportation, and is often used as a weapon against unionized labor.
Even those who find some legitimacy in this theory may well reject the authors' socialist-oriented conclusions - among them, that ''capitalism and democracy are ultimately incompatible.'' Still, the arguments are cogently stated, with effective use of examples. If you care about economic issues, this book may make you angry - but not bored.