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The United States Since 1980
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book isn't what I expected. I wanted more facts and information on how the middle class has lost ground since 1980. This book is a good overview of government policy for the past twenty five years. You walk away from this book with a good overview of history. I'm going to have to dig a little deeper for the actual data that this book was based upon.

I'm a huge Dean Baker fan. Most economists are slaves to their perspectives. It's really hard to get good economic and fiscal views outside the corporate American view. Baker allows us to be free.

Baker predicts a recession this year because of the housing bubble. Lets see how accurate he is. I'm betting on Baker. Don't bank on the Wall Street guys, they seem more interested in protecting their clients than getting you truth.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am old enough to remember what this country was like before "trickle down" supply side economics. But many people don't. And that is exactly why those same hackneyed arguments about lowering taxes and shrinking government bureaucracy continue to have any impact at all. Even George Bush Senior referred to Reagan's plan as "voodoo economics." Hey, let's give all the money to the rich and maybe they'll give some of it back? Hmm.

Clearly the rich benefit more from tax cuts than anyone else. Say you make $25,000 a year, which would put you above the poverty line in 1980. That gives you a little over $2080 a month to live on, which, in 1980, was possible, depending on where you lived. But if you pay 15% in taxes, you're going to lose $512 per month to Uncle Sam. Wish you could keep it? Of course. $512 a month means a lot to you.

Now say you're making $25,000,000 a year. Uncle Sam is clipping you for more than 50% of that. But that still leaves you with $12,500,000 a year to live on. That's a million dollars a month. If your taxes get lowered to 35%, that gives you an additional $350,000 a month. A lot of money, sure, but you're not going to miss it as much as the guy who's making $25,000 misses his extra $512. And you're not going to miss it nearly as much as Uncle Sam, who's trying to fund programs that benefit, not just the middle class, but everyone, including the rich: education, infrastructure, public works.

Oh, but you're going to invest your tax windfall in job creation, right? Sure, job creation -- in Korea, or India, or China, or Outer Mongolia. If, since 1980, you've been investing in anything that benefits the average American, I would sure like to see what it is. If it's such a good idea to lower taxes and do away with government regulations, then why, after thirty years, do we still need to do more of it? It's like trying to cure a headache by beating your head against a wall. Still got a headache? Well, that just means you haven't done it enough.

This book will open your eyes, not just to what happened to taxes after Reagan, but what happened to labor unions, to health care, to education (did you know that state funded universities used to be FREE?) and to the banking industry. And for all their talk about reducing government spending, the neocons managed to explode the deficit. The only difference is, it was the middle class, rather than the rich, who got stuck with the bill.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Fast reading and informative. I'll never view our goverment in the same light. The work was carfefully researched, the footnotes are plentiful. Once you read the first page its unlikely you can put the book down till its completed.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Good compact survey of economic and political trends since 1980. Baker correctly (I believe) sees that date with the election of the arch-conservative Ronald Reagan as a watershed year. The narrative follows chronologically from the 1980 threshold and its background in the feckless Carter administration. Graphs and tables are included to buttress his points but do not disrupt the flow. It's not a polemical or particularly partisan work, though a critical undercurrent is sensed from time to time. Social issues such as gay rights, abortion, and other leading movements including the rise of religious fundamentalism are also discussed but not emphasized. There's not a lot of depth, though he's clearly most comfortable discussing causal factors shaping economic policy. Thus considerable light is shed on economic policy, particularly during the Reagan years. Put in perspective, the rightward swing over the past 25 years is unmistakable, as business backers see an opportunity to jettison or fatally weaken decades of fettering regulation. Now is a good time-- with the Bush debacle-- to get a handle on what this swing has wrought. Baker's handy little tome is a good place to start.
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