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The Conscience of a Liberal Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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.)
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About the Author
Paul Krugman is the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics. He is a best-selling author, columnist, and blogger for the New York Times, and is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University.
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Krugman explains how unrestricted greed ruled the day back in the Gilded Age of the 1890s, which in turn set the stage for the Great Depression of the 1930s. That resulted in massive misery and inequality. Then he traces the reforms of the New Deal like Social Security and the FDIC and how this shift led to greater economic equality and stability that didn't end until the 1980s when a hard core group of right wingers launched an attack on the New Deal reforms (and later similar reforms like Medicare) that has lasted well into the 21st century.
This is really thoughtful stuff and I would highly recommend this book to any reader who is confused by the current gridlock in Washington. As Krugman points out, historical perspective can often lead to understanding. Let's hope he's right.
For a shorter, more elegant, and more subtle analysis of the same events and trends, see Tony Judt's Ill Fares the Land, which I can't recommend highly enough.