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Social Democratic America 1st Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199322510
ISBN-10: 0199322511
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Editorial Reviews


"It's too bad for Lane Kenworthy that his new book, Social Democratic America, was published on Jan. 3, 2014, because otherwise I'd be comfortable calling it the best public policy book of 2013... it's a fantastic book and I hope everyone reads it." --Matthew Yglesias, Slate

"This is a great book, and an important one. If our policy makers took Lane Kenworthy's advice we'd have a better, more equitable economy, with more opportunity and fewer of the distortionary imbalances that threaten our future." --Jared Bernstein, former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden

"Lane Kenworthy's Social Democratic America is a serious, sobering look at the challenges facing the United States as the share of children raised in stable two-parent families shrinks, and as the labor market position of less-skilled workers deteriorates. It is also a spirited case that only a larger, more expensive, more ambitious government can meet these challenges. Whether you are inclined to embrace Kenworthy's arguments or not, you would do well to reckon with them." --Reihan Salam, Fellow, R Street Institute, and contributing editor, National Review

"A breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale economic debate, Social Democratic America shows that more generous and better-designed government policies could improve opportunity, security, and the living standards of most Americans. But perhaps most remarkable in this age of pessimism, Kenworthy believes not only that America can do better, but that it will. Agree or disagree, you will see America's economic possibilities in a powerful new light." --Jacob S. Hacker, Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, and co-author of Winner-Take-All Politics

"If you wish to read the case for a big increase in social welfare spending, this is the very best place to go." --Tyler Cowen, Holbert C. Harris Chair of Economics, George Mason University

"Well-argued and fact-driven... a reasonable, worthwhile addition to the national debate over government's role in social policy." --Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Lane Kenworthy is Professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of Arizona. He is author of Progress for the Poor, Jobs with Equality, and Egalitarian Capitalism. His writings have appeared in the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and on his blog, Consider the Evidence.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199322511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199322510
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.9 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #860,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely intelligent and important book. Social democracy is very little understood or discussed in this country and Kenworthy makes a tremendous contribution by stating the case so directly and clearly and with excellent supporting arguments and data. He is very skilled at this, as he shows on his blog "LaneKenworthy.net" regularly. He delivers what he promises unlike many authors. My only criticism is that he doesn't discuss the economic dynamics of distribution and debt problems but he isn't an economist. There are very few books on Social Democracy that are as valuable and readable. We should hope that this one will be read by as many people as possible. Other related books worth looking at:

Berman, Sheri, The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Making of Europe's Twentieth Century,Cambridge University Press; 1 edition, 2006

Hill, Steven, Europe's Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age, University of California Press; First Edition, 2010

Jansson, Bruce S., The Sixteen-Trillion-Dollar Mistake, Columbia Univ, 2001

Nace, Ted, Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy, Berrett Koehler, 2005

Newman, Michael, Socialism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press; 4th ptg thus edition, 2005

Pontusson, Jonas, Inequality and Prosperity: Social Europe Vs. Liberal America, Cornell University Press, 2005

Roberts, Paul Craig, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Clarity Press, 2013

Trattner, Walter I., From Poor Law to Welfare State, 6th Edition: A History of Social Welfare in America, Free Press; 6 Sub edition, 1998
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author does a much better job presenting a persuasive case for the effectiveness of the specific reforms he advocates than he does for the political feasibility of their enactment. Nevertheless, the case for modern social democracy he builds seems to be a solid one. There are two main components to such a system. A less progressive tax system and less market regulation boosts economic growth and prosperity (and, consequently, tax revenue) while generous, universally provisioned social insurance programs for things like unemployment, sickness, healthcare, wage reductions and maternity/paternity ensure fairer distribution of that growth and prosperity. Sounds good to me, but I doubt we'll see it on thus side of the Atlantic anytime soon.

This book is probably a little dry for the popular audience. There are masses of statistics and graphs and charts (some of which are poorly labelled). The author doesn't pretend to present a balanced view of the issues raised in the book. He clearly states that he is advocating a specific point of view. I think he does a fairly reasonable job of presenting opposing arguments, though, so this isn't completely biased in the same way a Fox News/MSNBC talking head is.

Overall, I think he does a good job presenting a compelling case for fairer society.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author seems very optimistic about the future of the economy in America. So much hinges on whether or not his ideas can be agreed upon by a Congress which doesn't seem to work together to affect change. I bring little of an economics background to the reading, so a lot of the graphs were hard for me to grasp.
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