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Customer Review

on May 24, 2008
This is a quite amazing book for its wealth of fascinating and often counter intuitive information, particularly income distribution stats and political survey information. There is definitely a form of political delusion at work in the USA, based on voters so consistently voting against their own interests. For example voters favoring abolition of the estate tax when it only affects the top 2% of tax payers or favoring the Bush 2001 tax cuts without knowing anything much about them. More interestingly he shows how, while increasing political knowledge (measured by simple questions on who is what position in US politics) increases Democrats awareness of economic inequality; the same increasing political knowledge makes Republicans LESS knowledgeable or more in denial that inequality has increased, let alone whether it is a problem. He also nails the idea that the blue collar have shifted against their interests. Republican voting is still largely a matter of the better off supporting them, especially the less well educated and religious better off The Democrats lost power because of the defection of the South that now merely reflects the national picture (rather than hugely Democratic as before Civil Rights circa 1964) and the growth of reasonably well off, non college educated, religious voters who vote on economic AND values grounds, though still against their economic interests. Since 1948 economic growth has been on average significantly higher and unemployment lower for all social groups under Democrat presidents; inflation has been only slightly higher. And income equality much better under Democrats. Ultimately I suppose a worrying and somewhat pessimistic book, but a necessary tough tonic before thinking of solutions. Voters tend to vote on the economy in election year and the Republicans have done better in election years and voters don't seem to remember the other years when things were much worse. I hope both Presidential Candidates read it but doubt it will have the necessary impact. That will take a gutsy new FDR to put the country back together again after a collapse like the 1930s. Interestingly my conservative friends go into huge denial about this book: they can't even consider it; it is so threatening to their world view. I am open to doubt about its data and arguments, but the author provides plentiful source and precise survey question detail so intelligent engagement with the book is really easy, whether you agree or not with his fundamental premises. The author hasn't voted since 1984 he says and then voted Reagan, so this is not another move on.org book for the choir. The evidence drove him to his conclusions rather than the other way round. I wish there were more books this insightful.
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