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Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed? (And Other Unsolved Economic Mysteries) Hardcover – April 1, 2008


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Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed? (And Other Unsolved Economic Mysteries) + Work and the Workplace: A Resource for Innovative Policy and Practice (Foundations of Social Work Knowledge Series) + Evaluation: A Systematic Approach
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1st edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576754774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576754771
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. According to economist and author Bernstein (All Together Now: Common Sense for a Fair Economy), the endless parade of economic legislation and corporate criminality that keep the rich getting richer are all a direct product of economic knowledge being monopolized and manipulated by the rich, keeping the middle and lower classes woefully unprepared to understand, much less stand up to, the economic forces aligned against them. Fortunately, this accessible overview should clear things up for even the most befogged reader. Answering questions from an average American perspective-"the ones in the vise grip of the crunch"-Bernstein explains murky topics like health care reform, minimum wage laws, the Federal Reserve, immigration and budget deficits with a clear, friendly manner that sidesteps any scholarly (and/or sinister) obfuscation. His progressive "we're all in this togther" philosophy, though seemingly familiar, is backed up with enough data and savvy to illuminate what's wrong in the dominant "self-reliance" narrative of American political discourse. This down-to-earth, populist guide to the pressing economic issues of our time is a clarifying, useful and empowering resource.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

No mere populist rant, Crunch is organized as a broad primer on U.S. economics that uses inequality as a starting point for understanding this wider subject. Bernstein's concise explanations of issues like unemployment and health care expenses are meaty and engaging, offering laypeople tangible insight into how the economy functions and what it takes to ensure that those who make it work also share its rewards. -- Utne, Book Review, May-June 2008

More About the Author

The goal of my work is to help build a much more equitable economy in this country. As a DC-based economist in the heart of the national debate, I've watched this goal take a beating by an evolving philosophy I call YOYO ("you're on your own") economics.

In contrast, I propose a WITT ("we're in this together") agenda which aims to revitatlize a much more optimistic set of options to meet the challenges we face.

I've tried to tell this story in plain language in all that I do and I hope it resonates with you.

Customer Reviews

Jared Bernstein can and did in his book Crunch.
old timer
This book deserves a wide audience and careful scrutiny of his claims and analysis.
Hans G. Despain
Finally someone from Washington with the guts to tell it like it is.
Donald S. Waller

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By old timer on May 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Having long ago forgotten my college economics, I've been trying to make sense of the current talk of recession and the various stimulus proposals put out by politicians. Something about the viewpoint expressed by cable news pundits and economic leaders hasn't added up for me, but I couldn't articulate why. Jared Bernstein can and did in his book Crunch. In clear language, he explains how the current squeeze happened and gives the tools for evaluating how various issues--social security, globalization, immigration, and more--affect my pocketbook and what would move us towards, or away from, a fair society.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Williams on March 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Finally - a book about the economy for non-economists! Jared Bernstein's clear and compelling approach to economic mysteries is a breath of fresh air amidst an atmosphere stagnant with jargon and so-called experts convoluting the issues. Crunch takes the spin out of statistics and explains what all those numbers really mean - and how politicians and the media can use (and misuse) them for political purposes.

The book is structured around the author's answers to real questions from real people, which I greatly appreciated, having asked many of those questions myself and never before received a satisfactory answer. Crunch is truly inspirational - not only do we all have the ability to understand complex economic principles, but we have the power to see through media hype and make our own decisions about the best policies to get our flailing economy back on track.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Charles on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Went to see Jared Bernstein speak last Saturday and left feeling surprisingly uplifted despite the doom-and-gloom economic analysis. Being a member of the middle class myself, I can fully endorse his description of the "crunch" and I am already a firm believer that wealth distribution is a core problem in our society -so I wasn't expecting more than an endorsement of what I already believe. However, I came away feeling energized by his organizing theme that with knowledge we can "rechannel the power of economic analysis back to the service of those who need it most: the ones in the vise grip of the crunch." He has a great command of the telling economic detail & certainly gave me fact-fodder for a dozen arguments with 'fiscally conservative' relatives - but I found his interweaving of economic and policy ideas to be particularly compelling. Plus, his enthusiasm for his subject and his sincerity are infectious - so I bought the book. It hasn't disappointed. A well-written, easy to digest analysis with compelling arguments on every page. I'm ready to "rechannel the power."
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Hearst on May 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've always wondered whether I should believe the pundits who insist on "letting the free market take its course," and about why positive economic indicators don't seem to reflect the way people are really living. It never made sense to me. In Crunch, Jared Bernstein explains that the reason accepted economic wisdom doesn't always make sense is that some of it is just plain wrong.

One of the things I loved about this book is that it explains economic principles--as well as the motives of those who try to misrepresent them for their own purposes--in terms a non-economist can understand. I feel like I got an in on the knowledge that the experts had been hoarding for themselves. One of Bernstein's key arguments is that economics is about power, and in sharing this information he gives power back to those of us without PhDs in Economics.

Another thing I really liked is that this book doesn't stop with what's wrong. The author offers insights about and suggestions for how we can change to work through really big economic problems like health care, social security, and globalization.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Moore on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Usually by the fourth or fifth word out of an economist's mouth, my brain is swimming with confusion from all the meaningless buzzwords and MC Escher-styled twists of logic supposedly bolstering their arguements- and that's exactly the problem Bernstein is addressing in "Crunch." With concise language and refreshingly candid observations, this book cuts out the white noise and gives it to you straight. I learned so much that I just assumed I would never comprehend. A book like this could not possibly be more timely- every day for months now, the headlines are catching up with what a lot of us already knew: the fix is in. Mortgage crisis, rising food & gas costs, soring medical and student loan bills, concentrated wealth, credit collapse, sinking middle class lifestyle and buying power- "Crunch" touches on all of these and a ton more. I recommend this book to anyone looking to get a grip on economic theory and the very real ways it's affecting Americans now.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeevan on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I can finally understand what all the doublespeak in economic circles actually means to me - the average citizen. I also appreciate this author's wit and humor. I feel like I am speaking to a really smart economist buddy, not some snooty know-it-all who makes me feel bad for not knowing the terminology or maths behind it all.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
How many economists have you read or watched on television in recent years that claimed the economy was performing well while you struggled to make ends meet and keep up with the cost of living? Indeed, until recently a happy talk virus had infected a cabal of conservative plutocrats who preached the virtues of limited regulation, market forces and free trade as wages declined and predatory lenders had a party. It seemed we were hearing conservative politicians and their mouthpieces at the Heritage Foundation or Fox news refer to the economy as "the greatest story never told" at every opportunity.

Now that the housing and credit crisis has metastasized, conservative apparatchiks are fighting to minimize government intervention on behalf of regular folks while preserving corporate welfare. They accuse anyone who raises a fuss of waging class warfare. Instead these agents of the status quo prefer we erroneously obsess about Social Security going bust and agree to privatize it for Wall Street's benefit.

Thankfully, renowned economist and the director of the Living Standards Program for the Economic Policy Institute, Jared Bernstein is using his megaphone to fight the madness. With his new book, Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed? (And Other Economic Mysteries), Bernstein responds to dozens of questions asked by working Americans that relate to the dollars and cents concerns of real people. Bernstein who often appears as a commentator on CNBC wrote in the preface of his book that,

"I'm tired of being stuck in the studio engaging in rants with Darth Vaders with PhDs. Wouldn't it be more useful to have an open-ended, rant-free dialogue with real, everyday people about their economic questions.
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