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The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming America From The Right Paperback – 29 Jan 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (29 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141035773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141035772
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Paul Krugman writes a twice-weekly column for the op-ed page of the New York Times. A winner of the John Bates Clark Medal who was also named Columnist of the Year by Editor and Publisher magazine, he teaches economics at Princeton University.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Steve Keen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Feb 2009
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Why is it that the most powerful nation in history, one capable of landing men on the moon, is incapable of providing 15 per cent of its populace with little more than the most basic of healthcare? Why does it not provide a more generous welfare system? Why does it have such a massive gulf between its richest and poorest citizens?

A key reason, according to Paul Krugman in this well-argued polemic, is the "movement conservatives" who, starting back in the sixties, conspired to conscript the organisational muscle of the Republican Party in order to elect into power a number of placemen whose role was to wipe out the gains of the New Deal. This process was by no means straightforward. The job would have been much easier had Dewey won his expected landslide presidential victory in 1948. Instead it was Truman who triumphed and was thereby able to consolidate the gains of the New Deal to the extent that his successor, Eisenhower, a Republican, inherited well-entrenched institutions which were difficult to dismantle.

As a result, during the period from the mid-forties to the sixties or early seventies the US underwent what Krugman refers to as the Great Compression, when through a combination of New Deal legislation and union activism lower end wages rose as those in the higher bracket were more or less frozen.

In the fifties, he points out, the largest employer in the US was General Motors, and the mean wage of its workers was the equivalent then of $40,000 now. The movement conservative insurgency changed all this, starting with the Reagan presidency which saw, for example, striking air traffic controllers handcuffed and sacked, with the result that today's largest US employer, Wal-Mart, pays the equivalent of $18,000 at the mean.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Sudworth VINE VOICE on 13 July 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has one central tenant - the USA has a huge issue on lack of healthcare for all its citizens and that its the Republican party that has systematically blocked attempts to create this.
Its a damming inditment of 'movement conservatism' and its roots in inequality of income that had got worse in the US in the last 20 years.
He also lambasts the racism that has helped perpetuate this inequality.
Its clear also that he regards FDR as possibly the most liberal of all Presidents with the introduction of the 'New Deal' that systemtically raised incomes for the poorest and took income in the form of taxes from the wealthy - and yet helped cause the biggest , sustained growth in US history which critically was shared out so that people all felt they had gained.
It is also striking that there was a level of bi-partisanship in government and unionisation in that time that helped this happen - unlike the almost hatred that exists today.
Krugman believes that universal health care is the primary goal of the new Democratic president - it will be a crucial test to see if the vested interests can stop that
The cross over to the UK is striking - we have the greatest icome inequality in our history and Krugman belives that this helps the disengagement of people from society .. makes you wonder if the Labour party really are different to the Tories in that respect
An excellent . clear account , good not just for economics but for social history in the US
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Collins on 14 Dec 2010
Format: Paperback
'The Conscience of a Liberal' is an engaging, accessible and thought-provoking account of how the United States became a 'middle class' nation, following the deprivations of the Twenties and Thirties, and of the forces that have subsequently eroded the achievements of the post-World War II years. The book goes on to elaborate the policy measures that can be taken to reverse the damage done, during recent decades, and the reasons as to why liberals might have cause for optimism on this score.

I first encounted Paul Krugman's writings, on his subject of special expertise - international trade - as a postgraduate student in the mid-late 1990s; this is the body of work that lead to Krugman's becoming a Nobel Laureate in 2008. Krugman is a prolific writer and, as anyone who is familiar with his books, essays or Op-Ed columns in the NYT (since 1999) will know, he has a gift for expressing sometimes complex ideas with great clarity and concision. Whilst he has carved out a niche, in recent years, as a populariser he has not sacrificed rigour and this book provides plentiful references to academic journals and other works - many of which are available over the Net - to build and to support his case. So, this is a work of popular economics, rather than a textbook, but Krugman provides a solid, coherent account of the forces at work that lead, first, to large reductions in inequality following the period 1870-1930 then, subsequently, to the current long-term trend towards increasing inequality; a trend that has continued largely unabated, in the United States, since about 1973.

'The Conscience of a Liberal', therefore, is about inequality - economic inequality and the social inequality to which it gives rise. There are good reasons for believing that inequality 'matters' - i.e.
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By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
As a true liberal, Paul Krugman pleads in this mightily important book for a new `New Deal', a new agenda for the expansion of social safety nets (universal health care) and for the reduction of social inequalities.

He gives in this hard-hitting book a brilliant analysis of US elections, which until F.D. Roosevelt took the presidency, were con trolled by a plutocracy.
Under Bush II an authoritarian, fundamentally anti-democratic and unacceptably violent (`liberals should be physically intimidated') clique (movement conservatism - MC) took all political powers. It is financed by a handful of extremely wealthy individuals and major corporations (drug, energy). Their agenda comprised the undermining of government safety nets, regulation restraints, the breaking of union power and the privatization of nearly all government institutions and services.
FDR created with his New Deal the US middle class. The MC destroyed it and created (enormous tax cuts) a new plutocracy (in a particular US state some representatives can be controlled by 20 individuals).

But, why could a small movement monopolize political power in the US and attack the welfare system?
For Paul Krugman, race (racism) is at the heart of US politics. Welfare distribution goes foremost to minorities. The GOP could exploit the white backlash against civil rights. The MC could take the GOP in a stranglehold, steal elections and rule by cronyism and corruption.
But, there is hope. Demographics (immigration) and mentalities are changing: the US becomes less white and less racist.

Paul Krugman is a staunch defender of liberalism and concomitantly of true democracy, civil liberties, the rule of law and the preservation of the social fabric.

This fascinating book, written by a superb free mind is a must read for all US historians and for all those who want to understand the world we live in.
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