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Showing 1-10 of 106 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 230 reviews
on June 23, 2015
I grew up an odd child because of my obsession with politics. At the age of 6, I was watching the 1992 Presidential Debates between Clinton, Bush 41, and Perot. When I became a teenager, I identified as a liberal Democrat; however, as I grew up my environment helped changed my mindset and over the past 10 years I've identified more with the Libertarian point of view. I've voted for candidates of all major parties; however, as our political system continues to fail it becomes more evident to my mind that Liberalism has worked and can work again to bring our system back in line with what made America great during WWII and after.

Paul Krugman's book offers glimpses of the past, as he recalls the rise of FDR and his New Deal Coalition. The author also highlights the formation of a staunch conservative hatred for the New Deal that has never gone away and today embodies the heart and soul of the Republican Party. Professor Krugman does a terrific job of explaining how a fringe group took over the Republican Party and continues to win elections despite the fact that most voters disagree with most of the tenants of "movement conservatism". My favorite part of the book is the description of how wealth inequality happened in America, and what we can do to fix it. A society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is not one we should live in...we had that once, and it led to a Great Depression.

If you are looking for a book that describes how Liberals think of America, and you are open minded to the idea that government has a place in society beyond fighting endless wars, then I recommend you read this book. It is most definitely worth your time.
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on January 30, 2014
Obviously, as the title of the book implies, there is a significant partisan component here. You will find much to like if your political views align with Krugman’s, and much to disagree with if you don’t. I enjoyed this book quite a bit, so take this review with a grain of salt, I guess if you generally find yourself disagreeing with him.

Krugman is a highly engaging writer. He manages to be both breezy and serious at the same time, and someone without a modest economics background will still find the book easily accessible. Once of the strengths of this book is its methodical approach to storytelling. The first portion of the book is a historical review of ‘movement conservatism’, including some interesting demographic comments on the switch of the South from historically voting D to now voting R. At every turn, numerous quotations and data are supplied. I was surprised, for example, to learn of the verbal support given to Generalissimo Franco by William F. Buckley in National Review. I guess I have the hindsight of history uncovering Franco’s perpetrated atrocities, but yeesh. Krugman makes a compelling case that there is a correlation between income inequality and partisanship, and that it is the Republicans who have veered to the right, rather than the Democrats veering to the left that is the root of our recent divisive Congresses. Particularly instructive in his case is a chart showing the propensity to cross party boundaries to vote for bills, and the lack thereof during the ‘Gilded Age’ (pre-New Deal) and now, whereas in the post-New Deal era (approximately the 50’s through the early 70’s), there was a significant amount of crossover and bipartisanship, along with a general sense that the country was doing alright.

The latter part of the book is where he provides his vision for how we (Americans, and Liberals) could get back on track. This includes enacting universal health care and confronting income inequality. These present great rallying cries (admittedly, for *both* parties), and are one of the best parts of the book, because he’s looking forward rather than back. The history part is great to be sure, but the last few chapters are actionable, and I was glad that the book included a ‘to do’ list of sorts, that he wasn’t just lamenting a change but suggesting meaningful ways to correct problems.

Unfortunately, one weakness of this book is that it is a bit dated. Written in 2007, you catch glimpses of his thoughts on the future (now our recent past), and you wish that he would go back and update the book to take the last 6 years or so into account, particularly now that we have a new, albeit very different from what he suggests, health care law. He has somewhat done so in other books he’s written, particularly “End This Dpepression NOW!”, published in 2012. In general, they form a nice set of bookends on the recession and financial crisis of 2008-2009.

As I said at the outset, your enjoyment of this book will probably depend to a large degree on your political leanings, and that will undoubtedly color your thoughts on whether you believe him. If you’re willing to listen and give him a chance, the book will not disappoint. The historical chapters are quite good, and there’s a clear plan at the end.
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on March 10, 2015
Outstanding Due to the writings of Krugman, Stiglitz and others I have gone from Conservative to something in between that and liberal. Maybe more like a Eisenhower Republican. In my view the people who take campaign money from Wall Street are destroying our Democracy and 2008 is evidence of that. I taught Securities in a law school for over thirty years. It goes to show how little attention the voters of this country pay to how they vote. I am very concerned for this country. Hassel (Bud) Hill Jr
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on July 22, 2017
Great read for those who want a new New Deal that will reinvigorate the middle class and create a society full of opportunity. Krugman does a wonderful job explaining the forces attempting to roll back the New Deal starting in the 1980s.
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on July 16, 2017
Paul Krugman is a brilliant scholar. The book is based on knowledge and expertise. Our great country was founded on Liberalism and keeps advancing over time. Thank you for this great fact based book!
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Paul Krugman has become one of the most important spokesmen in the US on political/economic matters. Throughout the woeful years of the Bush Administration he has been an articulate, concerned, voice for those Americans whose needs W. and his henchmen have ignored, i.e. everyone except the ultra-wealthy. In The Conscience of a Liberal, Krugman hopes to help jump-start the beginning of a new liberal progressive era which can rebuild the country and repair the damage of the last seven years.

Krugman often appears to be a professional contrarian, but that is because he is not afraid to challenge what has come to be perceived wisdom, revealing that that "wisdom" is nothing more than propaganda based on distorted reasoning and perverted statistics. Krugman tells the story of the Great Compression, the creation of a middle class America with lessening inequalities and increasing opportunities beginning in the 1930s and 1940s. He then reveals how what he calls "movement conservatives" who favor financial and social inequalities and the restriction of opportunity seized control, first of the Republican Party and then of the country, and how they have been implementing their goals ever since. Next Krugman predicts the ultimate failure of these so-called conservatives (who are actually right wing radicals) and the rise of a new liberal/progressive era, which will be heralded by legislation allowing the US to join the ranks of every other industrialized, capitalist nation by providing decent, affordable health care to all of its citizens.

The Conscience of a Liberal fills me with optimism for the future of our country for the first time since the coup d'etat of 2000. I trust Paul Krugman's immense talents will be employed by a new Democratic Administration and Democratic Congress after the next elections.
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on October 28, 2011
Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, advocates for American political liberalism. His book responds to The Conscience of a Conservative written by Barry Goldwater in 1960. Published nearly 50 years later, this response is more detailed and more attuned to the present. His words are partisan and personal "I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I'm proud of it." p. 267)

Krugman begins with an historical review emphasizing income differences. The years after WWII, it seems, were most congruent with liberal ideals. The "great compression" of salaries, New Deal social reforms, strong unions, and progressive social attitudes led to relative economic equality. Liberals seek a return to such times, while conservatives, in Krugman's view, prefer the "The Gilded Age" of pre-WWI capitalism. "Pre-New Deal America, like America in the early twenty-first century, was a land of vast inequality in wealth and power, in which a nominally democratic political system failed to represent the economic interests of the majority. [It was characterized by] the division of Americans with common economic interests along racial, ethnic, and religious lines; the uncritical acceptance of a conservative ideology that warned that any attempt to help the less fortunate would lead to economic disaster." (pp. 15-16)

Krugman applies this historical analysis to today's political spectrum: "Republicans cut taxes on the rich and try to shrink government benefits and undermine the welfare state. Democrats raise taxes on the rich while trying to expand government benefits and strengthen the welfare state." pp. 158-159 The gap between resources available to the rich and those available to the poor is America's greatest problem, intimately related to racism, crime, and unemployment. And the most appropriate remedy is direct: reduce high salaries and increase low ones. There is relatively less emphasis on educational opportunities, short-term assistance, or opportunities for business, home, or self-improvement.

While the core of Krugman's liberalism is simple, his justifications are not simplistic. He discusses in detail the role of labor unions, the need for universal health care, and the persistence of racism as a social problem and political issue. His thorough discussion not only elaborates the liberal viewpoint, but addresses common conservative counterarguments--though sometimes dismissively. This is not a balanced analysis, but it does not pretend to be one. It is well-articulated advocacy.

The author is at his best when describing liberal ideals. He is less considerate of opposing views. Ignoring broader concerns about high taxes, for example, he sees conservatism supported largely "...by a handful of extremely wealthy individuals and a number of major corporations, all of whom stand to gain from increased inequality." (p. 10). A large network of corporations, think tanks, and other groups further the conservative cause. "These institutions provide obedient politicians with the resources to win elections, safe havens in the event of defeat, and lucrative career opportunities after they leave office." p 163 The left is presented as a grassroots underdog, with nothing like this organizational and financial support. Researchers who measure the political leanings of media and the sources they cite would disagree (see Tim Groseclose's Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind). Conservative thinkers might respond with additional data and alternative analysis to many of the book's conclusions about the economy, opportunity, and the rule of law.

Don't look for balance from this book. Look for that balance from this book when read along with contrasting conservative views. Krugman's defense of liberalism is thoughtful, detailed, and worth reading by liberals and conservatives alike. Do not shrink from reading it because you might disagree. And after you read it, do not shrink from reading responses to it. It surely invites such responses.
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on September 16, 2016
A great book that goes into the history about the rise of movement conservatism and its dismantling of the the New Deal initiatives that created the middle-class and sustained a vibrant in America. It discusses how racism and other negative ideologies underlie much of the drive of movement conservatism in getting many voters to vote against their own best interests and opting for the rising economic inequality besets them today.
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on November 15, 2016
Krugman has articulated very well the kind of country and world I wish to live in. It is a society that cares for our fellow man, regardless of color, religion, country of origin. A society that cares for and provides for the less fortunate: those in need of good health care, job opportunities, equal educational opportunities, i.e. social safety nets that meet basic needs of all our citizens.
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on July 12, 2016
I knew (& loved) Krugman pre-Laureate and have always been a huge fan. I'm now overwhelmed keeping up with what he writes. His NY Times columns are superb as well as the books. You Go, Krugman ! ! !
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