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Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 14, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The underlying argument is straightforward. The sources of American economic inequality are largely political - the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public. The authors weave a historical narrative which Kevin Drum (who says the same things that I am saying about the book's importance) summarizes cogently here. This is not necessarily original - a lot of leftwing and left-of-center writers have been making similar claims for a long time. What is new is both the specific evidence that the authors use, and their conscious and deliberate effort to reframe what is important about American politics.
First - the evidence. Hacker and Pierson draw on work by economists like Picketty and Saez on the substantial growth in US inequality (and on comparisons between the US and other countries), but argue that many of the explanations preferred by economists (the effects of technological change on demand for skills) simply don't explain what is going on.Read more ›
Why then? Not, as popular commentary would have it, because public opinion shifted. Hacker and Pierson cite studies showing that public opinion on issues such as inequality has not shifted over the past thirty years; most people still think society is too unequal and that taxes should be used to reduce inequality. What has shifted is that Congressmen are now much more receptive to the opinions of the rich, and there is actually a negative correlation between their positions and the preferences of their poor constituents (p. 111). Citing Martin Gilens, they write, "When well-off people strongly supported a policy change, it had almost three times the chance of becoming law as when they strongly opposed it. When median-income people strongly supported a policy change, it had hardly any greater chance of becoming law than when they strongly opposed it" (p. 112).Read more ›
1. The richer you are, the more you have benefited from economic changes over the past 30 years.
2. The poorer you are, the worse your economic life has become over the past 30 years.
3. The previous two conclusions are largely the result of government policy.
4. If we want to avoid becoming a Latin American economy where the rich get richer and the rest suffer, we need to change government policies.
I am convinced that these 4 "facts" represent our current reality.... and that we need to address them. The book is required reading for anyone interested in federal tax or regulatory policy.
Some may feel this book is just as polarizing as the current state of politics and media in America. The decades-long decline in income taxes of wealthy individuals is cited in detail. Wage earners are usually subjected to the FICA taxes against all their ordinary income (all or almost their entire total income). But the top wealthy Americans may have only a small percentage (or none) of their income subjected to FICA taxes. Thus Warren Buffett announced that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Buffett has cited income inequality for "poisoning democracy."
When you search the `Net for Buffett quotes on inequality, you get a lot of results showing how controversial he became for stating the obvious. Drawing attention to the inequity of the tax regime won him powerful enemies. Those same people are not going to like the authors for writing Winner-Take-All. They say these political science people are condescending because they presume to tell people their political interests.
Many studies of poverty show how economic and political policies generally favor the rich throughout the world, some of which are cited in this book. Military spending and financial bailouts in particular favor the wealthy. Authors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson document a long U.S. policy trend favoring wealthy Americans. This trend resulted in diminished middle class access to quality healthcare and education, making it harder to keep up with the wealthy in relative terms.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
thought provoking and excellent writing.a very good book. service could not be better.Published 3 days ago by dickie o
The book gives you a good understanding of how and the rich and powerful manipulate Congress for their own gain and at the expense of the middle class. Feel the Bern!!Published 1 month ago by Albert Frank Stenta
Very informative,New slant on how to look at the present situationPublished 2 months ago by philjohnc
Well researched and provocative, it could lead one to despair, but it contains hope as well.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Good book. It's a bit depressing though because it makes you realize that we have already lost our democracy to the elite privileged class and there is really no way we are going... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Edward Savela
Good read, 4 stars because it's not very neutral (leans left)Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
The analysis of the growth in inequality is fascinating . The diagnosis of politics as the primary cause seems right, as does the complicity of both parties in the growing focus on... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Neil Winward