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The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do about It Hardcover – April 24, 2012
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“A very impressive and important book” ―William Julius Wilson, The Nation
“The Great Divergence by Timothy Noah is a book about income inequality, and if you're thinking, ‘Do we really need another book about income inequality?' the answer is yes. We need this one.” ―Joe Nocera, New York Times
“In The Great Divergence, the journalist Timothy Noah gives us as fair and comprehensive a summary as we are likely to get of what economists have learned about our growing inequality....Along the way, he enlivens what might otherwise be a dry recounting of research findings with fast-paced historical vignettes featuring colorful characters like the novelist Horatio Alger, the labor leader Walter Reuther, and the business lobbyist Bryce Harlow.” ―Benjamin Friedman, New York Times Book Review (front page review)
“The Great Divergence is a welcome antidote…. I particularly recommend Noah's list of solutions…. his book is both much needed and a delight to read.” ―Andrew Hacker, The New York Review of Books
“Timothy Noah has written a graceful book on income inequality in America, based on his prize-winning 2011 series for Slate. And The Great Divergence is well-timed: it emerges just as inequality is being transformed, via crisis and stress, from an academic backwater into a leading issue of the age … In short, this is a valuable book.” ―James K. Galbraith, Salon.com
“Superb … Noah is our unpretentious Detective Columbo, walking us through theories of the case.” ―Rich Yeselson, The American Prospect
“A timely, cogent and fair-minded book from journalist Timothy Noah about the shrinking of the U.S. middle class…. the sentences are graceful, and the points are clear…. I was glad last week when Noah was available to debate Edward Conard, whose forthcoming book, Unintended Consequences, embraces harsh economic inequity as the just reward for innovators. Conard, a former partner in Bain Capital, resides in the upper 0.01 percent income bracket. Noah's book is a rebuttal, a potent argument that the ‘worst thing we could do to the Great Divergence is get used to it.'” ―Karen R. Long, The Plain Dealer
“Noah's…thesis is seductive…. [his] book is a valuable addition to the political landscape. Uncontrolled inequality is undermining many of America's best attributes. As he concludes, ‘The worst thing we could do to the Great Divergence is get used to it.'” ―Sasha Abramsky, The Washington Spectator
“Noah successfully explains complex economic trends in common parlance. In this presidential election year, his book provides an excellent introduction to the hot topic of income inequality. Recommended for the 99 percent and anyone else concerned with the future of America's middle class.” ―Rebekah Wallin, Library Journal
“Economic equality has slipped to an alarming low in the United States. In The Great Divergence Timothy Noah does an excellent job of telling us how this happened--and why it matters … [an] essential new … accessible, erudite book.” ―Jordan Michael Smith, The Christian Science Monitor
“A reader might assume that he's already read Tim's award-winning series in Slate, and the beautiful slideshow that went with it, and wonder whether he needs to read the book as well. The answer is yes - this is in no way a padded out magazine article. The series was about inequality itself; the book is more of a story--and really, in its way, a dramatic one.” ―Mark Schmitt, WashingtonMonthly.com's "Ten Miles Square" blog
“One of 2012's most important books … a landmark analysis of the subject.” ―Ed Kilgore, WashingtonMonthly.com's "Political Animal" blog
“So you're busy and stressed and have time to read just one book on America's faultline crisis of widening inequality. This is the one. Tim Noah, a pro's pro among the nation's press corps, reveals why America has increasingly become a land of haves and have-nots--and how to reverse that soul-crushing trend--with insight, verve, thoroughness and surprising passion. A must read.” ―Ron Suskind, author of Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President
“This book is profoundly fascinating and important. The growth of income inequality over the past three decades has caused a contentious partisan debate based more on ideology than fact. Timothy Noah provides a clear, dispassionate look at what has (and has not) caused this trend and what we can do about it. Everyone who cares about the future of America's middle class should read it.” ―Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin and President of the Aspen Institute
“This may be the most important book of the year. Timothy Noah explores the most significant long-term trend in our country, and he writes with an ease and clarity that makes reading this book a pleasure. Buy it now and read it. You'll probably end up buying more copies for your friends and colleagues.” ―Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble
“This is the book the 99 percent has been waiting for. Crisply lucid and brilliantly argued, The Great Divergence manages to entertain at the same time that it explains. Best of all, Noah offers some strikingly sensible steps to undo the economic polarization that is tearing America apart.” ―Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed; Bait and Switch; and Bright-Sided
“A lucid, original, fascinating, and very useful guide to the biggest threat to America's future as a democracy. Noah has pulled together the whole array of explanations for the increasing Third World-ization of America--and he has sorted them out for us, with a guide to which are most important and what we can do about them. This is the book that should have been given out at the Occupy movements and--well, to everyone.” ―James Fallows, author of China Airborne and Breaking the News
“Timothy Noah has taken the most consequential domestic issue of this or any election and made us understand it in a completely new way. The Great Divergence is compelling, important and hugely readable. I learned something new in almost every sentence.” ―Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise and The Defining Moment
“An instant classic.” ―Ariana Huffington
“Essential background reading for the coming elections.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Comprehensive, fair-minded, and lucid … Noah makes a convincing and passionate case for why rising inequality harms a working democracy.” ―Publisher's Weekly
About the Author
Timothy Noah was recently named "TRB," the lead columnist at The New Republic. He wrote for Slate for a dozen years, and previously served at the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the Washington Monthly. He edited two collections of the writings of his late wife, Marjorie Williams, including the New York Times bestseller The Woman at the Washington Zoo. Noah received the 2011 Hillman Prize, the highest award for public service magazine journalism, for the series in Slate that forms the basis of The Great Divergence.
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Although considered poor form and not a very logical way to argue, let me ask some leading questions as a summary of the author's conclusions and my objections to them. It floors me that fellow liberals can seemingly be so hoodwinked by corporations and play right into their hands just as easily as the average tea party member. Tea Party: It's the welfare momma. Liberal Author: It's the overpaid Radiologist. Meanwhile General Electric just smiles and nods approvingly as it observes our juvenile squabbling from the sideline (pumping money and support into both sides).
1. How much tax does General Electric and Exxon pay in taxes?
2. When Exxon makes a huge profit, do the shareholders buy more stuff?
3. If you tax all millionaires capriciously, does the average paycheck in USA rise?
4. Does making someone else poorer help a poor person?
5. Would said millionaire's taxes make a real dent in anything?
6. Does making radiologist shop at Walmart instead of Bloomingdale's change anything?
7. Tax Kraft Foods fairly or unfairly tax that sob driving a red Ferrari?
8. Percentage of our bill going to radiologist compared to insurance company?
9. Will lower wages paid for highly technical trickle down or stay with corporations?
10. Is lowering salaries of overpaid or raising salaries of underpaid more desirable?
As my questions illustrate, assuming the author took the opposite stance of course, the author argues from a position of lowering the top rather than raising the bottom. Sure it is easy and pleasing to level one's sights on that SOB "almost rich" plastic surgeon who parks her Bentley in the handicapped spot at Whole Foods Market, but is it rational?
The author focuses on the individual rather than the corporation, which I believe is a fundamental fallacy in the author's reasoning. Removing a contractor's S-Corp scheme really does little to impact the nation's bottom line other than making said contract poorer. I'd argue an "almost rich" radiologist or independent contractor does a heck of a lot to stimulate the economy, as opposed to the truly rich, the "almost rich" spend their money. Just read any how-to-be-rich book that usually goes to great lengths to illustrate how "almost rich" aren't rich because they consume too much - i.e. Robert Toru Kiyosaki's books - and you can see what I mean. The "overpaid" and the "almost rich" stimulate our economy and are rapidly becoming the last bastion of the middle-class lifestyle.
I'm almost embarrassed to be a liberal, as this book seems to fit Fox News's stereotype of liberals promoting solutions that see the least common denominator as the most desirable outcome. The book seems like an argument to capriciously target the "kinda-rich" and fails to consider corporations. Corporate wealth surpasses even the most wealthy single individual - and many of these corporations pay almost no tax despite concurring significant externalities. Yes, the "kinda-rich" are pretty darn obnoxious, but at least they are putting folks to work. I live in the Washington DC area where the government helps foster a healthy community of "almost rich." Yes there is income disparity and there are a lot of "almost rich" here. But those "almost rich" are helping to insulate this area from much of the rest of the nations problems. But turning them poor doesn't solve anything other than making them poorer.
How someone as pro-union as the author (which I am also) can then turn around and attack hard-working twenty-first century workers such as radiologists is a mystery to me.