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With this major new volume, Paul Krugman, today's most widely read economist, studies the past eighty years of American history, from the reforms that tamed the harsh inequality of the Gilded Age to the unraveling of that achievement and the reemergence of immense economic and political inequality since the 1970s. Seeking to understand both what happened to middle-class Am With this major new volume, Paul Krugman, today's most widely read economist, studies the past eighty years of American history, from the reforms that tamed the harsh inequality of the Gilded Age to the unraveling of that achievement and the reemergence of immense economic and political inequality since the 1970s. Seeking to understand both what happened to middle-class America and what it will take to achieve a "new New Deal," Krugman has created his finest book to date, a work that weaves together a nuanced account of three generations of history with sharp political, social, and economic analysis. This book, written with Krugman's trademark ability to explain complex issues simply, will transform the debate about American social policy in much the same way as did John Kenneth Galbraith's deeply influential book, The Affluent Society.


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With this major new volume, Paul Krugman, today's most widely read economist, studies the past eighty years of American history, from the reforms that tamed the harsh inequality of the Gilded Age to the unraveling of that achievement and the reemergence of immense economic and political inequality since the 1970s. Seeking to understand both what happened to middle-class Am With this major new volume, Paul Krugman, today's most widely read economist, studies the past eighty years of American history, from the reforms that tamed the harsh inequality of the Gilded Age to the unraveling of that achievement and the reemergence of immense economic and political inequality since the 1970s. Seeking to understand both what happened to middle-class America and what it will take to achieve a "new New Deal," Krugman has created his finest book to date, a work that weaves together a nuanced account of three generations of history with sharp political, social, and economic analysis. This book, written with Krugman's trademark ability to explain complex issues simply, will transform the debate about American social policy in much the same way as did John Kenneth Galbraith's deeply influential book, The Affluent Society.

30 review for The Conscience of a Liberal

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    It can be interesting--and often a little sad--to look at political books written three presidential elections ago, and see what they predict about the future of America. Here Krugman--less prophetic in sociology than economics--predicted an end to movement conservatism and race-baiting. Now in the era of Donald Trump, we see that, although movement conservatism may be mortally wounded, it still thrashes about mightily in its death throes, and racism--alas!--is still alive and well. Paul Krugman, It can be interesting--and often a little sad--to look at political books written three presidential elections ago, and see what they predict about the future of America. Here Krugman--less prophetic in sociology than economics--predicted an end to movement conservatism and race-baiting. Now in the era of Donald Trump, we see that, although movement conservatism may be mortally wounded, it still thrashes about mightily in its death throes, and racism--alas!--is still alive and well. Paul Krugman, in 2007, argued that the New Deal led to a lessening of inequality In America which in turn fueled our postwar boom which resulted in a relatively non-partisan political atmosphere until the '70's. Since then, movement conservatism's methodical dismantling of the social safety net has led to an ever-widening income gap and an ever-increasing partisanship in politics. Krugman thought, however, that movement conservatism had had its day, since the race-baiting that has helped it win close elections is rapidly losing its force as America becomes less white and less racist. He also argued that a strong push for some form of universal health care during the next administration (Obama's first term) could restore confidence in government itself and--like the New Deal's Social Security-- help form a liberal consensus for years to come. Well, we see how the push for health care turned out. Whatever you think of Obamacare (I like it myself, although I would prefer a single payer system), it certainly did not help form any sort of "liberal consensus." And as far as how demographics may alter the power of movement conservatism (and demagogues like Trump), I think we may have to wait another two presidential elections cycles to find out. Which brings us to 2024. Me? I think the "liberal consensus" will triumph. But I'm certainly not going to write a book predicting it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    It is interesting to read this book, which was written a couple of years before Obama was elected, now that it is a couple of years after his election. This is an important book and one I would encourage you to read. There was a time when America was a country that was interested in equality and was not really a ‘class’ society – but more a ‘middle-class’ society. There were rich and poor people, but mostly there was a kind of extended middle. That is no longer the case. Now the US is perhaps be It is interesting to read this book, which was written a couple of years before Obama was elected, now that it is a couple of years after his election. This is an important book and one I would encourage you to read. There was a time when America was a country that was interested in equality and was not really a ‘class’ society – but more a ‘middle-class’ society. There were rich and poor people, but mostly there was a kind of extended middle. That is no longer the case. Now the US is perhaps best described as a kind of caste society – it has very limited social mobility (let’s put it this way, it has arguably less social mobility than Britain) and income distribution places it on levels comparable with Latin American countries, rather than European ones. Inequality is the order of the day – but how did it get to be this way? The answer is that ‘movement conservatives’ have bought themselves a political party (the Republican Party – which, purely for the sake of brevity, we shall hereafter refer to as The Repugs). They have been so successful in this that they have effectively made America a deeply partisan country – apparently, and for perhaps the first time in American history, no Democrat is to the right of a single Repug in either chamber of government. But this has not been achieved by money alone. One of the great questions of our time is why do people consistently vote against their own interests. Here in Victoria we have just gone through an election where the people of Frankston have voted in a Liberal (Liberal is a confusing name – in Australia that is the right of the political spectrum, i.e. a life form that would be referred to as a conservative elsewhere in the universe). Frankston has no right voting in a Liberal – it was just lucky it wasn’t 2012 or I would have believed the world really was coming to an end. The answer, of course, as it is with most things, is racism. Tell a white person that supporting any measure might just make a single black person better off will have them hacking off their nose as quick as you can say, ‘spite your face’. We white people are reflexively racist and it is this somewhat less than endearing trait that has helped very strange people come to power in America. Did you know, for example, that Reagan’s first speech after winning nomination as Repug Presidential candidate was the Neshoba County Fair – just a couple of miles from the town where the Good Ol’ Boys in 1964 killed three Civil Rights workers. Reagan, of course, didn’t say he didn’t like black people – that would be rude – but he did say he loved state’s rights, which everyone understood meant the same thing. Racism is the most deeply repugnant of all human traits. After a century like the 20th one might think there would be cause for pause by politicians before letting that particular genie out of the bottle – but in America and in Australia the right wing always know it is a sure-fire winner. And so they don’t hesitate. This is a positive book and one that offers much hope in being able to move America towards being more egalitarian, before it is too late. He makes it clear that universal health care is the last best hope for the progressive forces to shift the US towards a fairer society. He was hoping that this could be virtually cost neutral on the basis of not extending Bush’s tax cuts for the rich beyond 2010. Unfortunately, every step forward is met with two steps back. Oh, and if you don’t think inequality is a problem – and before you tell me that because I live in a ‘socialist’ country I don’t understand ‘freedom’ perhaps you should look at http://danariely.com/2010/09/30/wealt... or http://extremeinequality.org/ or even this http://www.pbs.org/unnaturalcauses/ Thanks for recommending I read this guy Richard.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Inequality and American politics according to Krugman. Unlike Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative, which the title plays off of, Conscience of a Liberal is not really a manifesto of "Liberal" principles or values. Instead the book tries to convey two main ideas that are more political and historical: 1) Inequality in America is driven more by political and social forces than by market forces. 2) Republicans owe their political success purely to greed and bigotry (oh and cheating). To Inequality and American politics according to Krugman. Unlike Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative, which the title plays off of, Conscience of a Liberal is not really a manifesto of "Liberal" principles or values. Instead the book tries to convey two main ideas that are more political and historical: 1) Inequality in America is driven more by political and social forces than by market forces. 2) Republicans owe their political success purely to greed and bigotry (oh and cheating). To make these arguments, Krugman devotes most of the book to his version of America's economic and political history in the 20th century. On the first point, the book basically serves as a good survey of the liberal explanation of the changing tides of inequality in America. In its crudest form, his argument is that the rise of unions combined with high marginal tax rates and changing social norms brought about the great compression (the narrowing of the gap between lowest and highest incomes that lasted from the late 40s to the 70s). The reverse (caused by Reagan and the conservative ascendance in the 80's) caused the great divergence, more or less. In other words, market forces were not decisive, but rather political and social forces (political in the form of tax rates and treatment of unions, social in the form of changing attitudes toward exorbitant executive pay). For the most part, Krugman doesn't argue for the truth of this narrative so much as he presents it as fact. He devotes very little space to competing explanatory candidates. He plows over a couple of straw men from time to time on his way to the conclusion, but there isn't much serious engagement with opposition. As a conservative with an amateur interest in economics, I didn't find Krugman's narrative very convincing, but it did challenge some of my assumptions (I think non-market forces probably have played a larger role than I previously granted). Three stars for this part of the book. One-sided, but quite readable. As far as his treatment of Conservatives, you get the kind of one-sided, selective history you would expect from Krugman. Anyone who has read his columns knows that he doesn't give his political opponents a shred of charity in terms of motives or intelligence. The same holds for the book. If you think Conservatives are all some combination of greedy, racist, and dumb, then bon apetit! This book has plenty of red meat for you. If you want a careful examination of the competing values and priorities of liberals and conservatives, look elsewhere.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    In this book, Krugman starts to note that, under democracy, in a country with high level of inequality the victory in elections will always belong to the candidate with more progressive views about taxation. That's a result known as "Median voter theorem". But why this doesn't happen in the United States? Krugman went to the end of nineteenth-century to show that in the Gilded Age America was unequal and still elected politicians associated with the interests of elites. Then he explains that it In this book, Krugman starts to note that, under democracy, in a country with high level of inequality the victory in elections will always belong to the candidate with more progressive views about taxation. That's a result known as "Median voter theorem". But why this doesn't happen in the United States? Krugman went to the end of nineteenth-century to show that in the Gilded Age America was unequal and still elected politicians associated with the interests of elites. Then he explains that it is possible because the candidates focus on the questions which divide the poor as customs, traditions and other things that opposed the Catholic (in urban areas) and Protestants (in rural areas). The time goes and the politicians are making the same strategy, but in nowadays the main tool to divide the poor is the race. Krugman claims that the Republican Party establishment build a movement through think tanks and a heavy use of dog-whistle politics in order to advance the conservative agenda in tax and public spending. Therefore, you vote for law and order and obtain tax cuts for the riches and small spending in public education and health. The solution raised by Krugman is the recovery of liberal agenda in the form of FDR's New Deal. The challenge for Americans is creating, as Roosevelt did, a middle-class society with less inequality and more opportunities. The model was post-war America, not Gilded Age. The book was written in 2007 but is still relevant. Unfortunately, the left in the West is totally lost in questions about gender and race while the economic issues are forgotten. As a result, liberals can’t talk in the same language of working class and the consequence of this alienation is the association of low-income voters with far-right politicians. This is happening in Brazil and in some countries of Europe. Apparently, it’s happening in the United States too.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    In the 1990s Paul Krugman famously asserted that 70% of the wealth that had been accumulated between 1977-1989 belonged to the top 1% of the population. Those facts still remain, but history has distorted the legacy of President Reagan, turning an actor and communicator into a great policy maker. The truth is that for the average American, Ronald Reagan was anything but a great policy maker. In fact, he was the ultimate creator of the income inequality that we live with today. In 2007, with a cri In the 1990s Paul Krugman famously asserted that 70% of the wealth that had been accumulated between 1977-1989 belonged to the top 1% of the population. Those facts still remain, but history has distorted the legacy of President Reagan, turning an actor and communicator into a great policy maker. The truth is that for the average American, Ronald Reagan was anything but a great policy maker. In fact, he was the ultimate creator of the income inequality that we live with today. In 2007, with a critical presidential race underway Krugman has written a must read book. I must confess that I have been searching for this book for a long time: a book that traces our country’s modern economic history, is written by an expert, but is accessible to the general public. Especially in 2008, as we are all scrambling to choose the next President it seems important to return to the basis of nearly everything: money. Krugman begins with a description what he calls the long gilded age. Beginning in the 1870s with reconstruction and through what many call the progressive era in the early 20th century up to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal policies that began in the 1930s. The long gilded age was defined by its lack of income taxes and the large gap between the rich and the poor. At its peak, in the 1920s, there were 32 billionaires (billionaires are calculated by the Berkley Economist J. Bradford DeLong as people making more than the combined output of 20,000 average American workers), the top 1% of the population held over 17% of the nation’s wealth while the top 10% accounted for 43.6%. Krugman's central question is discovering why it is that this gap was so prevalent during the long gilded age, all but disappeared under the presidency of FDR and the men that followed him in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and, beginning in the 1980s has re-emerged at levels equal to or higher than the long gilded age. Today there are 160 billionaires (a twelve hundred percent increase from 1968), the top 1% of the population holds over 17% of the nation’s wealth, while the top 10% accounts for 44.3%. The output value of the average American worker has risen nearly 50%, in real dollars, since 1973. Yet in 2005, the median American male had seen his income drop slightly in the intervening 32 years. Moreover, for males in the beginning to the middle of their careers (those ages 35-44), median income has dropped 12% since 1973. One might say that those numbers aren’t all that bad, but the United States is far richer today than in 1973, so where has all of that increased GDP gone? The answer is, to the top few wage earners. Perhaps the least deserving group being Corporate Executive Officers who have seen their incomes raise from 30 times the average worker’s wage in the 1970s to between 200 and 300 today. In a 2006 Pew Research poll more than half of all American’s surveyed said that the average worker “has to work harder to earn a decent living” today than a generation ago. So where did the reemergence of inequality come from and why aren’t all American’s sharing in the growing GDP pie? The author begins by admitting that he had always believed, even as he began writing the book that as a rule the economy drove policy. When income was distributed evenly, for example, a populist legislative agenda was allowed to flourish. Conversely, while the rich hold all the purse strings, policies that keep the rich rich remain legislation du jour. But what Krugman discovered was something far more empowering. The economy, he argues, is driven by policy and the norms it produces. He supports this thesis by citing the emergence of the middle class in the 1940s. The middle class explosion was due in large part to war time wage controls, but even after the wage controls were removed the middle class did not disappear. Because, Krugman argues, the politics of equality had taken root in the norms and institutions of American society (an example of this is the strong labor laws of the time, as well as corporate acceptance of unions). So if the politics of the New Deal led to a shift in norms that allowed the middle class to flourish and reduced the number of billionaires to 13 by 1968, how is it that America finds itself, once again, mired in the depths of economic inequality. Thomas Frank famously argued, in What’s the Matter with Kansas, that the voter shift was due to the religious right's marriage with the Republican party, which resulted in its ability to carry the south. Krugman, while not discounting the merit of Frank’s argument, contends that something much more sinister is at work in the politics of inequality today, namely, the white backlash against the politics of the civil rights era. To emphasize this point, Krugman highlights Ronald Reagan’s kick-off speech to his 1980 presidential campaign, a states right’s speech outside Philadelphia Mississippi, where in the 1960s 3 civil rights workers were murdered. The politics of race have dogged this country since its inception. From George Washington’s decision, first to exclude free blacks from military service and then to include them as a matter of necessity; Benjamin Franklin’s last public stand for the abolition of slavery; the free for slave state compromises of the mid 1800s; the emancipation proclamation; the right of African American’s to vote; Brown v. The Board of Education; to the civil rights acts of the 1960s, this country has long struggled to properly address questions of racial equality. It is therefore naïve of us to assume that race would no longer play a significant role in politics. As Democrats became the party of civil rights in the 1960s, it quickly became clear that the coalition of southern and northern Democrats could not survive. A movement began amongst conservatives to fight for the repeal of New Deal policies. This movement was largely a reaction to the acceptance of the New Deal by moderate conservatives, such as Dwight Eisenhower. Thus began movement conservatism, from the founding of the National Review to Barry Goldwater’s usurpation of the 1964 Republican convention and Karl Rove’s ascendancy to President of the college Republicans in 1972. Richard Nixon, a sort of hybrid between the Eisenhower moderates and the burgeoning movement conservatives, campaigned on fear and race but also raised taxes and proposed universal healthcare. Not until 1980-- when Ronald Reagan, the man who had begun his political career with a now famous speech in support of Goldwater’s 1964 presidential bid-- did movement conservatives have a real chance at success. In office, Reagan created a strong coalition by cutting taxes, fighting unions, rewarding the rich, and catering to voters angry over the income and racial equality policies of the 1960s. And thus began the politics of inequality that continue to this day. Bill Clinton managed the country in a fiscally responsible way but with a Republican majority for 6 of his 8 years in office, he was forced on many issues to govern to the right of even Nixon. To reverse the tide of inequality, Krugman’s policy solution, or beginning to the new New Deal, is universal healthcare. Like social security under Roosevelt, Krugman argues that universal healthcare is the policy catalyst that is needed to change the norms and institutions that maintain inequality at levels higher than even the long gilded age. The United States spends nearly twice as much per person as Germany, Britain, France and Canada and has a life expectancy lower than all four. But, while the history of income inequality is painful the policy solutions are evident and the electorate seems ready for change. According to most recent polls it seems likely that, come January of 2009 a Democrat will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Finally, even where the politics of race seem to pose a difficult barrier to progress, hope exists in an electorate that is becoming less white and increasingly tolerant of differences. With the policy changes that such a demographic shift brings about, the norms that have robbed the worker of his or her share, and protected the rich through corporate greed and civil rights backlash are quickly fading.

  6. 5 out of 5

    sheena d.

    You want to understand how the two major political parties came to be what they are today. You're curious about how racism and the history of slavery play an uncomfortable but undeniable role in America's resistance to provide her citizens with the care and basic support other wealthy nations deem fundamental. Also you're an elitist baby-killing commie. Well, that means you want to read this book. Krugman demystifies the surge of movement conservatism and calls on liberals to be progressive in their You want to understand how the two major political parties came to be what they are today. You're curious about how racism and the history of slavery play an uncomfortable but undeniable role in America's resistance to provide her citizens with the care and basic support other wealthy nations deem fundamental. Also you're an elitist baby-killing commie. Well, that means you want to read this book. Krugman demystifies the surge of movement conservatism and calls on liberals to be progressive in their demand for universal health care and immigration reform, lest the nation be dragged back to the inequality of pre-New Deal America. In accessible language with credible and accessible examples he defeats lies the opposition uses to thwart the growth of an equal America, and reveals the disgusting reasons why the Republican Party's economic agenda, which hurts the majority of Americans, has been successful. You'll vomit. Undressed a few of those elephants turn out to be more undemocratic than even the most skeptical of us feared. (I know I sound like and am ignorant propaganda, but Krugman doesn't and isn't. Promise.) ANYWAY this is one of the most insightful and important books I've read on the fundamentals and drawbacks of our political system in its current state, and because my opinion is GOLD I urge you to secure your own copy muy pronto. There's a lovely argument that the reason conservatives are afraid of health care reform is because it WILL work. Blah, blah, blah. Krugman calls for a return to middle class America, and I'm eager to meet him there. To note: this is not a book about eliminating the Republican party or anything ridiculous, but it is about minimizing the power movement conservatism has, and preventing extreme levels of wealth and poverty from destroying what lies at the heart of the American dream. Swear the book is not as cliche soaked as I make it sound.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pete Sikora

    What's with the well-reasoned arguments and incontrovertible facts, Paul? Enough with the "evidence" and "studies". I mean, why do you want to show that your arguments are correct with actual data. Jeez. But seriously, folks. Krugman writes like the really good teaching economist that he is. This book rocks. He's got a great - if not entirely original - dissection of the right wing movement's growth. Ditto arguments on income inequality and health care. He's got this great teaching manner that is What's with the well-reasoned arguments and incontrovertible facts, Paul? Enough with the "evidence" and "studies". I mean, why do you want to show that your arguments are correct with actual data. Jeez. But seriously, folks. Krugman writes like the really good teaching economist that he is. This book rocks. He's got a great - if not entirely original - dissection of the right wing movement's growth. Ditto arguments on income inequality and health care. He's got this great teaching manner that is just so dang reasonable - makes for good reading. Besides the excellent writing and analysis, the most heartening thing about the book is how liberal elitists like Krugman have concluded that income inequality is American society's greatest challenge. Thinkers like Krugman now support unions and income redistribution. Indeed, unions are central to their policy prescriptions. It didn't used to be this way. Krugman hadn't been a fan of labor unions in his earlier career. I saw someone ask him about that at a forum I was at. He said "Sometimes you don't know what you had until its gone." Well said. The book shows how the right wing movement systematically targeted labor unions in order to advance their agenda. Meanwhile, the democratic party is only now just beginning to realize that selling labor down the river is a suicidal electoral strategy. Krugman still won't say that NAFTA was a giant mistake, but his views are evolving - fast. It's only a matter of time. Anyway, the shift in liberal elite thinking is great... there's only one problem: factual arguments aren't what wins. It's all about political/movement power. Being right helps, but it's not a necessary condition to winning policy change. I'm happy that the thinking is shifting, but it's going to take a whole lot more than books. And Krugman knows it. He's all about building our movement. His book will certainly help. Great read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Top notch analysis from a brilliant commentator. Does economic inequality lead to political polarization or is it the other way around? Krugman believes that political change ultimately forms economic reality more than the reverse. He says that the middle class of the post war era was a creation of government policy and not a naturally event arising from economic rules. He calls the postwar period, in which income extremities were both pushed towards the middle The Great Compression. He looks in Top notch analysis from a brilliant commentator. Does economic inequality lead to political polarization or is it the other way around? Krugman believes that political change ultimately forms economic reality more than the reverse. He says that the middle class of the post war era was a creation of government policy and not a naturally event arising from economic rules. He calls the postwar period, in which income extremities were both pushed towards the middle The Great Compression. He looks in some detail at how the south remained Democratic even in the face of social welfare programs. It turns out that those programs helped the south and the taxes to support those programs fell more heavily on the north. The limiting factor was racism, however. When faced with programs that would have removed race barriers the bigots of the south balked. One example was Truman’s attempt to institute a national health insurance plan. It would have meant that hospitals had to offer the same care to all regardless of race. P 7 Over the course of the 1970s, radicals of the right determined to roll back the achievements of the New Deal took over the Republican Party, opening a partisan gap with the Democrats, who became the true conservatives, defenders of the long-standing institutions of equality. The empowerment of the hard right emboldened business to launch an all-out attack on the union movement, drastically reducing workers’ bargaining power; freed business executives fom the political and social constraints that had previously placed limits on runaway executive paychecks; sharply reduced tax rates on high incomes; and in a variety of other ways promoted inequality. P 61 – Quoting FDR “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; now we know that it is bad economics.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Krugman is a rare thing: an economist who makes good predictions. He's also one who cares about how economics affects people. I was reading along, getting an overview of income inequality at the turn of the 20th century, and I just couldn't take any more. Over my lifetime it's gotten steadily worse until we are once again in a time of Gatsbys, and it pisses me off so much I want to scream. Every time anyone says anything good about Reagan I want to point out that real wages have been falling sinc Krugman is a rare thing: an economist who makes good predictions. He's also one who cares about how economics affects people. I was reading along, getting an overview of income inequality at the turn of the 20th century, and I just couldn't take any more. Over my lifetime it's gotten steadily worse until we are once again in a time of Gatsbys, and it pisses me off so much I want to scream. Every time anyone says anything good about Reagan I want to point out that real wages have been falling since him, and this is not a good thing. It's morally wrong to make the poor poorer, but it's also economically and socially bad to make the middle class poorer. Wal-mart's wealth is not a social good: it enriches a very few while decreasing employment, lowering wages. It is a drain on the resources of the communities that house it. When you don't pay your employees enough to keep them off food stamps, you require more money from the community than you pay in taxes. And jobs that don't lift people out of poverty aren't an improvement, particularly for those many people who will require child or eldercare or public transportation to get to those worthless jobs. I had to put it down because of all the rage I was building up. Library copy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    The weakness of this book is that it is largely preaching to the choir. Yes, the national Republican Party is run by a bunch of lying bastards who hate minorities, the poor, democracy, and Christianity. BUT...you've either accepted that or you've closed your eyes in denial. Writing a partisan tract isn't going to change anyone's mind. The best part of the book is a history of the evolution of the Republican party in the twentieth century. Krugman layers this with comparisons of how the economy is The weakness of this book is that it is largely preaching to the choir. Yes, the national Republican Party is run by a bunch of lying bastards who hate minorities, the poor, democracy, and Christianity. BUT...you've either accepted that or you've closed your eyes in denial. Writing a partisan tract isn't going to change anyone's mind. The best part of the book is a history of the evolution of the Republican party in the twentieth century. Krugman layers this with comparisons of how the economy is doing through the years. So, for example, he examines how Republican politicos say high tax rates are bad and compares this with how the economy in high tax eras was actually quite good. He also examines how the modern Republican party success since the Civil Rights Act passed is heavily based on wooing the racist Southern voter, and he obviously spent some time researching this particular area. I think that history is the strongest thread, but Krugman talks about other things as well. He spends some time on the Democratic party, some time on health care, and he interweaves a sense of what being a liberal means to him.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    The Concience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman plays off the title of Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative. Although Krugman's book was published in 2007 (Goldwater's back in the 1960s), it remains worth reading. In fact, it is prescient in two major ways. First, Krugman focuses hard on income inequality, which is a hot topic in 2014. His argument is that over the last 30+ years, taxes on the wealthy have gone down, social programs have been constrained, unions have been busted, and the The Concience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman plays off the title of Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative. Although Krugman's book was published in 2007 (Goldwater's back in the 1960s), it remains worth reading. In fact, it is prescient in two major ways. First, Krugman focuses hard on income inequality, which is a hot topic in 2014. His argument is that over the last 30+ years, taxes on the wealthy have gone down, social programs have been constrained, unions have been busted, and the middle class has shrunk. He shows that in the 1950s and 1960s, when CEOs made less relative to workers than they do today, the U.S. economy performed better. The thesis is basically this: the more people in our economy who make a decent wage, the more we spend and the more we save--while also insuring good education and other public services. So Krugman focuses tightly on superrich CEOs and money managers (Wall Streeters) and the benefits they enjoy as a result of fierce efforts by what he calls movement conservatives, these being the conservatives who are determined to hamstring government at every turn, cut the deficit, and oppose things like Obamacare. Secondly, Krugman predicted Obamacare as the coming social policy innovation that would match, in some ways, FDR's Social Security initiative. Remember, this was in 2007, before Obama was elected. His demographic analysis still pertains: the committed conservatives, though wildly well funded, are a shrinking minority. Not just African-Americans but Latinos and Asian-Americans are more sympathetic to the Democratic party than the Republican party. Since movement conservatives don't like immigration, either, they have a problem they can't fix at the polls with recent immigrant groups and long-standing minorities.Krugman's analysis of national health programs in France, the U.K., Germany, Canada and other highly developed nations shows quite clearly that if we work together we can have more and better health care for less. In fact, we're hugely overinvested in our old system, and Obamacare is the first step toward the better health outcomes and lower expenses our peer competitors enjoy. This is a refreshingly straightforward book. The few tables are easy to read. The anecdotes are pertinent and persuasive. Most disturbing, but not surprising, is the emphasis Krugman places on racism in the south as a reason for the Republican resurgence there since 1968. But again, things are changing. We've re-elected a black president. Here in Virginia, where I live, a bastion of the south, we're purple, not red or blue. The way income inequality retards our national competitiveness and productivity is easy to see and understand. When you ship jobs off-shore and lower wages at home (partially through union-busting), you've got a population that struggles with basics, not with ambitious socio-economic advancement. In the meantime, of course, we had the colossal debacle of the Great Recession right after Krugman's book was published. But he's written a lot about that, too, and we all know his general thesis: the Obama administration and Congress probably spent about half what it should have in helping people out of work and facing foreclosure. And in the meantime, we ran up a $3 trillion unfunded debt fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama didn't start either war, but he did well to get us out of Iraq and not as well continuing to waste treasure and lives in Afghanistan. Krugman likes to season his brew with reminscences about the social consensus that Eisenhower accepted on the part of the Republicans. That's when Krugman was a boy, and we had far less income inquality. I was a boy then, too, and I recall quite clearly that Krugman has it right. We had yet to go through some bitter social struggles, including civil rights, feminism, and gay rights, so we were far, far from the perfect nation, but we still felt more committed to good national outcomes than we have since then. Warren Buffet is on the same wavelength. As he puts it, he doesn't need all his billions and he doesn't see why he should pay lower taxes than his secretary. In closing, just another word on Buffet. I was coming out of the Russell Senate building one day when Buffet walked past me and hailed a cab. He got in the cab and drove away. The point? Where was his limo? Where were his aides? Where was the press his P.R. department had cooked up? They didn't exist. It was just Warren Buffet being a sensible man. Taxis are a good way to get around Washington,D.C. They put you in touch with a lot of immigrant drivers who likely will affect our future a great deal.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Anyone anxious about America’s widening political polarization and economic inequality should read The Conscience of a Liberal. In lucid, reader-friendly style, Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman draws on the latest historical, political and economic research to answer a central question: did worsening inequality spawn a billionaire elite, that later began funding Republicans’ shift to the far-right? Or did far-right think tanks and politicians, allied since the 1970s with white evangelical church grou Anyone anxious about America’s widening political polarization and economic inequality should read The Conscience of a Liberal. In lucid, reader-friendly style, Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman draws on the latest historical, political and economic research to answer a central question: did worsening inequality spawn a billionaire elite, that later began funding Republicans’ shift to the far-right? Or did far-right think tanks and politicians, allied since the 1970s with white evangelical church groups and union-busting corporations, first win the major tax and deregulation policy victories that still disproportionately enrich one-percenters? To answer that, he begins his story with Carnegie, Rockefeller and the rest of our Robber Baron rich in the late 19th century Gilded Age. Untroubled by effective federal regulations or income and estate taxes, the richest one percent controlled nearly one-fourth of all income and most of the government. The Great Depression seemed to bring a crashing end to their power, especially once FDR began to build the safety net of Social Security and Unemployment Insurance and ratcheted upward marginal income tax rates on the wealthy. The 1935 Wagner Act and wartime wage policies encouraged the growing power of unions as a check on corporate prerogatives. With surprising speed just after World War II, the New Deal and the union movement helped build a mass middle class, while also driving down the one-percenters’ income share below 10%. Throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, this “Great Compression” brought rapid economic growth that won bipartisan support, even during the Republican administrations of Eisenhower and Nixon. But an ever-more influential band of hard-right Republicans denounced the New Deal, labor unions and even Medicare as “socialist.” One of them, Sen. Barry Goldwater, an opponent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, won the party’s Presidential nomination that year. Though he lost the election in a landslide to Lyndon Johnson, Goldwater and his Hollywood fanboy Ronald Reagan began building alliances with new far-right white evangelicals, sympatico think tanks (awash in oil industry funding) and racist southerners abandoning the Democratic Party over its support of racial justice and anti-poverty programs. In fact, Krugman insists that the genial media image of Reagan is a deeply dishonest denial of the fundamentally racist core of his long-running attacks on mythical “welfare queens” and “strapping young bucks” allegedly draining anti-poverty funds. Once Reagan won the White House in 1980, he staffed it with other ideological “movement conservatives” dedicated to using the levers of government against consumer and worker rights in favor of corporate goals. Reagan immediately slashed the top marginal income tax rate on the rich by over half, setting the model for all subsequent GOP presidents: enrich the rich with income tax cuts, hollow out government oversight of corporations, and weaken the Democrats’ power base by attacking worker’s rights, wages and benefits, as well as the New Deal programs. Since most of those programs have broad public support, Krugman argues that Republicans from Reagan on have had to increasingly rely on distractions, denials and brazen lies, to the recent dangerous extremes of attacking scientific consensus and scorning “reality-based” career civil servants. In sum, the country that had swung from a first Gilded Age to the Great Compression, has since 1980 been driven into a Second Gilded Age of extreme income inequality, stagnant real wages for most workers and government policies ever-more biased toward the largest corporations that dominate key industries. But, none of this was inevitable. Technological change and globalization confronted other advanced economies too, but only the U.S. displays such a large and rapid shift of income shares to the super-rich. Why? He identifies the main culprits as U.S. deunionization and pro-corporate policies and social norms driven by hard-right politicians since the 1960s. But even as he wrote this book, before the 2008 Obama election victory, Krugman saw hopeful signs of new progressive tendencies that could one day reverse the damage wrought by movement conservatism. Judging from his weekly NY Times articles since the 2020 election, he today retains some cautious optimism that a just, democratic and sustainable future may still be achievable.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jakub Dovcik

    A great review of the development of the politics of inequality and rise of movement consevrativism in the United States in the last hundred years & a great overview of the problems of US healthcare pre-Obamacare.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    The genius of the political theater is it offers only two options: bad and worse. Krugman is bad as he is a stooge of Wall Street casino capitalism, peddling propagandist economic models that hide how big banks transform money from a public utility into private rent-seeking for the rich and debt peonage/austerity for the rest. In other words, neo-feudalism. But within the political theater of sanctioned discourse, Krugman is by no means the worst. On his NYT platform, he will argue for the Liber The genius of the political theater is it offers only two options: bad and worse. Krugman is bad as he is a stooge of Wall Street casino capitalism, peddling propagandist economic models that hide how big banks transform money from a public utility into private rent-seeking for the rich and debt peonage/austerity for the rest. In other words, neo-feudalism. But within the political theater of sanctioned discourse, Krugman is by no means the worst. On his NYT platform, he will argue for the Liberal reforms that can be at times the band-aide to Financial pillaging. He will only get you so far, at the same time reinforcing the barriers to escaping systemic Ponzi schemes, rent and debt. You'll find that decent economists like Yanis Varoufakis, Steve Keen, William K. Black and Ha-Joon Chang either sadly shake their heads or directly challenge Krugman, while more critical economists like Michael Hudson directly refer to him as a useful idiot for Wall Street. Example: Krugman supporting Clinton/Wall Street: https://youtu.be/EIa3KDcmPpE

  15. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman takes us on a journey from the New Deal's advent to its creation; relates the resulting three-decade era of relative prosperity, equality, and bipartisanship; navigates the rise of "movement conservatism" and the assaults on the New Deal (and thus on equality) which occurred from the early 1970s through the present; and finally prescribes an agenda for the (predicted) Democratic congressional majority and presidency in 2009, with a focus on socialized health insur Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman takes us on a journey from the New Deal's advent to its creation; relates the resulting three-decade era of relative prosperity, equality, and bipartisanship; navigates the rise of "movement conservatism" and the assaults on the New Deal (and thus on equality) which occurred from the early 1970s through the present; and finally prescribes an agenda for the (predicted) Democratic congressional majority and presidency in 2009, with a focus on socialized health insurance. Although some of the premises felt somewhat disjointed at times, Krugman managed tie them all together in the end. A few of the hard-to-swallow, yet well-supported premises are: 1. Government policies, rather than "market forces" are most responsible for the balance of equality in a population. 2. Racism has played a decisive role in the direction of (and in the strength of) both of our major political parties. I found this to be an especially interesting time to read Krugman's book, as it was written after the Democratic congressional gains in 2006, yet before the 2008 election.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vannessa Anderson

    I found Chapter 8, Politics of Inequality, the most informative. The chapter outlines how George W. Bush and Dick Cheney came to lead the country and how it's tied to William F. Buckley defending the right of the South to prevent blacks from voting— the white community is so entitled because it is, for the time being, the advanced race. And how they praised Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who overthrew a democratically elected government in the name of church and property.Another passage that ca I found Chapter 8, Politics of Inequality, the most informative. The chapter outlines how George W. Bush and Dick Cheney came to lead the country and how it's tied to William F. Buckley defending the right of the South to prevent blacks from voting— the white community is so entitled because it is, for the time being, the advanced race. And how they praised Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who overthrew a democratically elected government in the name of church and property.Another passage that caught my attention was, Latter-day haiographers have portrayed Ronald Reagan as a paragon of high-minded conservative principles, but he was nothing of the sort. His early political successes were based on appeals to cultural and sexual anxieties, playing on the fear of communism, and, above all, tacit exploitation of white backlash against the civil rights movement and its consequences.For me, there was so much new information in The Conscience of a Liberal that it was mind boggling!The Conscience of A Liberal was well written, flowed well, and an easy and informative read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marcel

    The first 100 pages is the best history of the two party system that I have ever read! I first became interested in Klugman when I read an editorial in the NYTimes about universal health care. The article reflected how I felt about the subject exactly. When I heard he had written a political book, I had to read it. Klugman is an economist who teaches at Princeton, and writes a weekly column for the Times. He is an accomplished writer, and this book is an easy read and real page turner. I highly r The first 100 pages is the best history of the two party system that I have ever read! I first became interested in Klugman when I read an editorial in the NYTimes about universal health care. The article reflected how I felt about the subject exactly. When I heard he had written a political book, I had to read it. Klugman is an economist who teaches at Princeton, and writes a weekly column for the Times. He is an accomplished writer, and this book is an easy read and real page turner. I highly recommend this book for anyone with any interest in politics, and especially anyone who wants to know how the two parties differ today, and how they got to where they each stand today, from a historical perspective.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    I remember Paul Krugman once remarking that his NYT editors would consistently cut down the length of the columns he submitted so he started submitting columns below the mandated word count. Being so economical with his words has helped him craft a clear and concise treatise on why espousing liberal ideas consistently makes economic and, just as importantly, moral sense. Krugman displays courage in unabashedly defending progressive ideas despite being a professor and author in a field that gener I remember Paul Krugman once remarking that his NYT editors would consistently cut down the length of the columns he submitted so he started submitting columns below the mandated word count. Being so economical with his words has helped him craft a clear and concise treatise on why espousing liberal ideas consistently makes economic and, just as importantly, moral sense. Krugman displays courage in unabashedly defending progressive ideas despite being a professor and author in a field that generally frowns upon anything that smacks of even a hint of partisanship. Anyone who ever wondered whether their liberal ideas could ever hold up to the scrutiny of economics should give this energizing book a read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Paul Krugman is, hands down, the most thoughtful and reasonable economist I have ever read. He just won the Nobel Prize in Economics but that is not what makes him readable. He has written a LOT and many of the things he has written are, and are intended to be, quite accessible to the general audience. He also writes an Op-Ed for the New York Times. He has convinced me that Barack Obama should draft him to give advice on the economic catastrophe. He has written extensively on The Great Depression Paul Krugman is, hands down, the most thoughtful and reasonable economist I have ever read. He just won the Nobel Prize in Economics but that is not what makes him readable. He has written a LOT and many of the things he has written are, and are intended to be, quite accessible to the general audience. He also writes an Op-Ed for the New York Times. He has convinced me that Barack Obama should draft him to give advice on the economic catastrophe. He has written extensively on The Great Depression and predicted almost exactly what is happening now. I have been doing everything I can to get the two of them together (if they are not already together). If anybody who might read this knows a way to play "six degrees of separation" better than I do, I would love the help!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    A well argued book. Krugman essential argues that the Republican party has been taken over by extreme conservatives who favor a dismantling of the welare state which began with the New Deal. He recommends a Single payer health care system as the center of a "new New deal" to repair the damage done to the welfare state by 30 years of far right political dominance. Single Payer is, Krugman argues, both cheaper and more effective. Not to mention the moral imperative to ensure that everyone actually h A well argued book. Krugman essential argues that the Republican party has been taken over by extreme conservatives who favor a dismantling of the welare state which began with the New Deal. He recommends a Single payer health care system as the center of a "new New deal" to repair the damage done to the welfare state by 30 years of far right political dominance. Single Payer is, Krugman argues, both cheaper and more effective. Not to mention the moral imperative to ensure that everyone actually has health care. I really enjoyed reading this. It's clear and easy to follow, and in particular is a fantastic source for the economic data and reasonign relevant to our current political debates.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bobby

    Krugman already has one Nobel (for economics); he should get another for writing about economic policy in a way that's actually easy to understand and enjoyable! In this surprisingly fast read he explains--among other things--the fundamental goals of "movement conservatism," the historical context of FDR's era and the New Deal, and the worsening social inequality that has been going on for the last few decades. It's refreshing to hear intelligent arguments backed up with data, though Krugman doe Krugman already has one Nobel (for economics); he should get another for writing about economic policy in a way that's actually easy to understand and enjoyable! In this surprisingly fast read he explains--among other things--the fundamental goals of "movement conservatism," the historical context of FDR's era and the New Deal, and the worsening social inequality that has been going on for the last few decades. It's refreshing to hear intelligent arguments backed up with data, though Krugman doesn't go over the top with with statistics etc (rightly so IMHO since this is meant for the lay public). Though Krugman's left-of-center beliefs clearly come across, I think people from all political backgrounds should be able to appreciate his evidence-based conclusions and recommendations.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dwight

    Krugman really makes the case (and he's well qualified to do so) -- a case he says he wasn't willing to make when he started to write the book even -- that the wild swing in our economy that favors the rich and creates more and more filthy rich while leaving the middle class largely stagnant hasn't been just something that happened as a result technology-driven changes in the nature of our economy (as is often posited) but rather the result of very deliberate policy changes. The lesson is that t Krugman really makes the case (and he's well qualified to do so) -- a case he says he wasn't willing to make when he started to write the book even -- that the wild swing in our economy that favors the rich and creates more and more filthy rich while leaving the middle class largely stagnant hasn't been just something that happened as a result technology-driven changes in the nature of our economy (as is often posited) but rather the result of very deliberate policy changes. The lesson is that these policy changes can also be reversed, undone, tweaked, whatever. In case you didn't think '08 was a good time for a change ;-)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    My book club outvoted me--I didn't want to read this book, because I figured a regular reader of Krugman's columns would not get much from it. I guess I thought this was a compendium of the columns or something. Boy, was I wrong! This is a great book, must reading for anyone who cares about the direction we have been moving in. Krugman makes a good case for political action now to get a universal health care plan in place, let the tax cuts expire, reverse the government's attacks on unions and so My book club outvoted me--I didn't want to read this book, because I figured a regular reader of Krugman's columns would not get much from it. I guess I thought this was a compendium of the columns or something. Boy, was I wrong! This is a great book, must reading for anyone who cares about the direction we have been moving in. Krugman makes a good case for political action now to get a universal health care plan in place, let the tax cuts expire, reverse the government's attacks on unions and so forth. I particularly liked that he put all of this in historical context as well as in comparison with other OECD countries. Really, I think, a must-read book!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Fortwendel

    This book gave me history and ideology on progressive / liberal thinkers such as myself. Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning Princeton economics professor. He addresses the differences between the parties and why movement conservatism has become an institution for the elite. Therefore the income gap has grown to unprecedented proportions. Conscience of a Liberal is inspiring and hopeful. Krugman outlines excellent arguments in favor of universal healthcare and other progressive issues. It is fascin This book gave me history and ideology on progressive / liberal thinkers such as myself. Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning Princeton economics professor. He addresses the differences between the parties and why movement conservatism has become an institution for the elite. Therefore the income gap has grown to unprecedented proportions. Conscience of a Liberal is inspiring and hopeful. Krugman outlines excellent arguments in favor of universal healthcare and other progressive issues. It is fascinating commentary on current politics and provides the argument on why we need progressive change in America.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paulo O'Brien

    This is a must read for anyone who cares to understand the swings of political and economic power between conservative and liberal forces over the past 100 years. Fascinating to learn that the rise of the middle class (in the 50's) -- which is what made America great -- was the result of FDR and govt intervention, not 'natural market forces' at all. Now that inequality is greater than ever between the rich and the poor -- and we have an administration that is trying to redress the imbalance (wit This is a must read for anyone who cares to understand the swings of political and economic power between conservative and liberal forces over the past 100 years. Fascinating to learn that the rise of the middle class (in the 50's) -- which is what made America great -- was the result of FDR and govt intervention, not 'natural market forces' at all. Now that inequality is greater than ever between the rich and the poor -- and we have an administration that is trying to redress the imbalance (with health care for all, for instance), it behooves us to understand this stuff. For an economist (Nobel Prize winner, no less) Krugman is an excellent writer.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Church

    Paul Krugman is obviously a remarkably intelligent writer and political economist and this book is a concise and convincing case for the reinstitution of welfare state politics as the backbone of a resurgent democratic political party. Hopefully something like what Krugman hopes for will actually happen, but I'm not too hopeful. Remember Bush? Anyway, not too dry and strongly agrued in its appeal to Keynesian and New Deal economic theories instead of just a basic appeal to help out the less fort Paul Krugman is obviously a remarkably intelligent writer and political economist and this book is a concise and convincing case for the reinstitution of welfare state politics as the backbone of a resurgent democratic political party. Hopefully something like what Krugman hopes for will actually happen, but I'm not too hopeful. Remember Bush? Anyway, not too dry and strongly agrued in its appeal to Keynesian and New Deal economic theories instead of just a basic appeal to help out the less fortunate. I don't have health insurance...so I'm into it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    PMB

    Outstanding book. Krugman’s historical treatment of the conservative movement and the politics of race is unflinching. I’ve heard the criticism that he often cherry picks his facts in order to bolster an argument however, the data he presents leaves his call for a return to New Deal style policies and progressive taxation on solid ground. His presentation of all the detrimental effects of movement conservatism is spot on. This book sums up what should be the core beliefs of the modern democratic Outstanding book. Krugman’s historical treatment of the conservative movement and the politics of race is unflinching. I’ve heard the criticism that he often cherry picks his facts in order to bolster an argument however, the data he presents leaves his call for a return to New Deal style policies and progressive taxation on solid ground. His presentation of all the detrimental effects of movement conservatism is spot on. This book sums up what should be the core beliefs of the modern democratic party.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I always knew it was about race...but I never knew it was so much about race. US Conservatism is so close to that sly, ignorant kind of evil that it makes me shudder. I'm still trying to process this book, but I will say that there was a lot I expected, and a lot that I really hadn't expected at all. (Obviously I am a liberal and was before reading this) I always knew it was about race...but I never knew it was so much about race. US Conservatism is so close to that sly, ignorant kind of evil that it makes me shudder. I'm still trying to process this book, but I will say that there was a lot I expected, and a lot that I really hadn't expected at all. (Obviously I am a liberal and was before reading this)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Don

    A quick, enjoyable read. Krugman tells a story here, really the story of the American rich and poor. He tells us how we got here, from post-war prosperity to a nation of exploding inequality. Just really an insightful and fun read--concise, perspicuous, informative but never pedantic, impassioned but not polemical.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Swankivy

    To be honest, I didn't really enjoy this book, but that's my own fault. I thought it was more of a general social science book about morals and values with regard to politics, but it had very little content of that sort. It's my own ignorance on the usual work of the author that led me to suspect otherwise, that's all. What we get here is a fair amount of history, in some cases examining the beginning of the twentieth century, the Depression, the World Wars, the New Deal, and the sexual revoluti To be honest, I didn't really enjoy this book, but that's my own fault. I thought it was more of a general social science book about morals and values with regard to politics, but it had very little content of that sort. It's my own ignorance on the usual work of the author that led me to suspect otherwise, that's all. What we get here is a fair amount of history, in some cases examining the beginning of the twentieth century, the Depression, the World Wars, the New Deal, and the sexual revolution in the context of economic change and the central message put out by the two political parties. What I was pleasantly surprised to see was quite a lot of discussion on race. I appreciate that the book flat-out said the establishment is racist and how racism was used to collect votes for conservatives (especially in the days where many on the Right were against integration). There was some really interesting talk about health care and why our country seems to be the only one among wealthy nations that doesn't agree that universal health care should be a right if you want to call yourself a civilized country. I loved that the author addressed how blame is placed in those cases--how messages about how sick people must have done something to deserve sickness and how poor people will squander and abuse any welfare assistance they receive are used to justify denying the poor basic lifesaving support and care. Also, one thing I hadn't completely understood before is how exactly buying the services of workers in other nations affects the income gap, but now it makes sense to me that if we buy foreign-made pants, we eliminate jobs for less skilled but more labor-intensive work, and that will widen the income gap. I learned a lot of new stuff about the New Deal, how taxes have fluctuated, how each party has branded itself in relation to how it handles military conflicts, what results from income inequality, and how our nation compares to other nations on big issues. The writing was accessible, quite readable, but not very emotional. On one hand, I appreciate that it wasn't emotional because that avoided a common problem in books that cover politics: this book doesn't have alarmist predictions fueled by heartstring-tugging case studies or moral posturing that warns of dire consequences if our side doesn't triumph. But without some emotional appeal, it did feel dry at times. At least I knew while reading it that the statements made are explicitly based on studies and polls and recorded history. Here are a few of my favorite quotes: "The multiple failures of the Bush administration are what happens when the government is run by a movement that is dedicated to policies that are against most Americans' interests, and must try to compensate for that inherent weakness through deception, distraction, and the distribution of largesse to its supporters." "Keeping black people out of white hospitals was more important to Southern politicians than providing poor whites with the means to get medical treatment." "The South was, conditionally and temporarily, on the side of economic equality, as long as that didn't translate into racial equality." "Some people were intensely dismayed by the youth rebellion, for reasons they may not have admitted even to themselves. And an obsession with other people's sex lives has been an enduring factor in movement conservatism--a key source of the movement's, um, passion." "Ronald Reagan was able to signal sympathy for racism without ever saying anything overtly racist." "Ironically, one problem with being a superpower is that it's hard to explain to its citizens the limits of that power. Canadians don't wonder why their government is unable to impose its will on the world. Americans, however, are all too easily convinced that those who threaten the nation can simply be eliminated by force--and that anyone who urges restraint is weak at best, treasonous at worst." On the inefficiency of the American health care system: "Large sums of money are spent not on providing health care, but on denying it."

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