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The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream Kindle Edition
“[The Complacent Class] provides an open invitation for the reader to think deeply.” ―Derek Thompson, The Atlantic
“‘The Complacent Class' is refreshingly nonideological, filled with observations that will resonate with conservatives, liberals and libertarians. ... a useful corrective to the conventional wisdom that American ingenuity, sooner or later, will revive a low-growth economy.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“One of the most important reads of the new year.” ―National Review
"Tyler Cowen's blog, Marginal Revolution, is the first thing I read every morning. And his brilliant new book, The Complacent Class, has been on my nightstand after I devoured it in one sitting. I am at round-the-clock Cowen saturation right now."--Malcolm Gladwell
"Tyler Cowen is an international treasure. Endlessly inventive and uniquely wide-ranging, he has produced a novel account of what ails us: undue complacency. No one but Cowen would ask, 'Why Americans stopped rioting and instead legalized marijuana.' He admires risk-taking, and he likes restlessness, and he thinks the United States needs lots more of both. Don't be complacent: Read this book!"--Cass R. Sunstein, Harvard University, and author of #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media
"A book that will undoubtedly stir discussion"--Kirkus
Praise for The Great Stagnation:
"Cowen’s book… will have a profound impact on the way people think about the last thirty years."―Ryan Avent, Economist.com
"Tyler Cowen may very well turn out to be this decade's Thomas Friedman."--Kelly Evans, The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
- ASIN : B01JGMCCCQ
- Publisher : St. Martin's Press (February 28, 2017)
- Publication date : February 28, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 3679 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 254 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #523,452 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The elite class does not care how big the trade deficit is or how big the national debt is. It does not care how many legal and illegal immigrants enter America. All it cares about is how it can make a profit from this system and increase its wealth. It is complacent about the decline of America as long as it can profit from the decline. Cohen identifies the first big shock that began the decline as the Arab oil embargo of 1973 which quadrupled gasoline prices overnight. This increase in energy prices then created the inflation which has continued to today. People first responded with an increase in women entering the work force to maintain family real incomes. When this was not enough Americans went heavily into debt to maintain their standard of living. This indebtedness has only gotten worse since then.
Meanwhile the increase in energy prices hurt profits and big business responded with all the policies we see today. These include accelerated automation, outsourcing jobs overseas, and bringing in cheap foreign labor to displace American workers. The result has been that the elite class has been able to increase its wealth while the middle and lower classes have endured flat real wages for over 40 years. Those not working have gone on welfare.
America has had a continuing trade deficit for over 40 years which has cost trillions. This deficit and the government programs for the victims of elite policies has been paid for with a combined national debt (government, business, personal) which is approaching $70 trillion. This does not worry the elite class which apparently thinks this system can continue indefinitely or at least as long as it is around.
The elite class which runs this country consists of six main groups. These are big business, the media, academia, government bureaucrats, unelected judges, and politicians. The last group is the only one theoretically under voter control but the main objective of about half the politicians is to support the other five groups and be rewarded accordingly.
The role of big business has been to design the current system. The media and academia are the propaganda departments of this system. Government bureaucrats increasingly run the country and unelected federal judges are there to step in when the politicians or voters get out of line. The politicians have basically enacted the laws necessary to keep the system going. All these groups are well paid and thus benefit from the forty year decline of America.
This whole scenario was upset when voters rebelled and elected Trump instead of the establishment candidate. The result has been a concerted effort by the elite class to destroy the Trump presidency and teach the voters who is in charge. The only group still holding out is the GOP but its resolve is questionable.
Notice how adamant the business-news community has been about opposing Trump's efforts to reduce our trade deficits. Nearly every day there are stories about how tariffs will "hurt" American consumers. There is no acknowledgement that maybe Americans can start producing the affected products and that competition will drive down prices. Of course the real ones hurt by decreased imports will be the businesses, especially Wall Street, which are dependent on them for profits. Big business has now created an economy which is dependent on a growing trade deficit.
One thing that has become increasingly clear is how federal bureaucrats have colluded to reverse the results of the election. The main players are bureaucrats in the DOJ, FBI, and CIA, all supported by most of the media. Their main objective seems to be to show that they run the country and voters better catch on. Of course they have to do it by manipulating legal concepts and finding something that can be plausibly ascribed to Trump as a crime. This is where the current situation stands.
Tyler thinks we're too complacent and too sheltered in our cocoons. He thinks our society is becoming too averse to change. This shows up as NIMBY zoning ordinances, few job switches, less entrepreneurship, and greater willingness to accept the established order. Safe spaces at colleges can be seen as a manifestation of this phenomenon.
As complementary reading for this book I would recommend Peter Turchin's War & Peace & War as an excellent intro to recurring patterns in history. I would also recommend Bill Bishop's The Big Sort about how Americans are migrating to live near people who think like them and live like them.
Cowen does a fairly good job of bringing up many contemporary political issues while not betraying a strong partisan bias. Though it's clear he's trying to pitch his ideas more to appeal to a left-leaning readership. At points his own willingness to stay within the boundaries of politically correct thought places limits on his ability to find and explain patterns. But keep reading through those sections. He gets back to very worthwhile insights in later sections.
What disturbs me about this book is that Tyler has reached a number of conclusions similar to mine about cyclical history but by his own different intellectual path. This unfortunately increases my own assessment of the odds that I'm right to expect a bumpier and possibly much more tragic future.
Going to take a break from reading any material generated by members of the main stream media
Top reviews from other countries
He sees the problem in the fact that America is ‘building its core culture and norms and politics more and more around people and families who aren’t mobile across the generations and who have a relatively static and stratified sense of how things work’. In other words, around the ‘complacent class’. This is the class of people no longer interested in movement – of any sort; whether to move abroad for work, or even moving across states. People no longer looking at car ownership as a rite of passage. 69% of Millennials at 17 years of age have a driver’s licence in 1983. Now, it is down to 50%.
This is due to the riches of the past generations, according to Cowen. ‘Collectively, as a nation, we used this newfound wealth to protect ourselves against risk, and to build and cement a much safer and more static culture’. The country needs to re-examine its present political stagnation and the erosion of true democracy. However, his economic reforms which includes scaling down expenditure on social security may be debatable. But that is what is urgently required – a debate over these issues rather than rhetoric.