This wholly original new work by the best-selling author of The Great Unraveling challenges America to reclaim the values that made it great.
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.
Economist and New York Times columnist Krugman's stimulating manifesto aims to galvanize today's progressives the way Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative did right-wingers in 1964. Krugman's great theme is economic equality and the liberal politics that support it. "America's post-war middle-class society" was not the automatic product of a free-market economy, he writes, but "was created... by the policies of the Roosevelt Administration." By strengthening labor unions and taxing the rich to fund redistributive programs like Social Security and Medicare, the New Deal consensus narrowed the income gap, lifted the working class out of poverty and made the economy boom. Things went awry, Krugman contends, with the Republican Party's takeover by "movement conservatism," practicing a politics of "deception [and] distraction" to advance the interests of the wealthy. Conservative initiatives to cut taxes for the rich, dismantle social programs and demolish unions, he argues, have led to sharply rising inequality, with the incomes of the wealthiest soaring while those of most workers stagnate. Krugman's accessible, stylishly presented argument deftly combines economic data with social and political analysis; his account of the racial politics driving conservative successes is especially sharp. The result is a compelling historical defense of liberalism and a clarion call for Americans to retake control of their economic destiny. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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W. W. Norton & Company
August 31, 2007
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