If you'd like to know the answers to these questions, premier economist Jared Bernstein is here to help. In Crunch, he answers these as well as dozens of other questions he has fielded from working Americans by e-mail, on blogs, and at events where he speaks.
Chances are, if there's a stumper you've always wanted to ask an economist, it's solved in this audiobook.
©2008 Jared Bernstein; (P)2008 Gildan Media Corp
mostly nonfiction listener
My Dad and I have been having this running debate about the direction the world is going. I say better, he says worse, and we never seem to come to any consensus. Crunch, by that rare bird a progressive economist, could be exhibit #1 in the evidence Dad presents to support his case. Bernstein makes the (valid) point that while our country has gotten much richer on the whole over the past two-decades, most folks feel economically "crunched" due to stagnating wages and significant increases in costs for housing, health care, and education.
While some things have gotten cheaper due to globalization (like computers), this has not made up for the rise in expenses for the most important things we need, and just to keep up families have had to work longer hours in jobs that are increasingly less secure. Bernstein is an excellent writer, a clear minded economist (one of the first to recognize the growth in low-wage workers and a big source for my dissertation), as well as a player on the Washington policy scene.
So is Dad right? I think that Bernstein's time horizons are simply too short, and the growth in living standards, health and longevity over the long run due to increases in technology and the spread of market economics are the really big stories. Sure, we should fight for a progressive agenda (and elect Obama), but Bernstein's observations and policies ideas are not in conflict with recognizing that on a macro sense we would not want to trade life in 2008 for life in 1958.
As a fan of data driven policy, I wanted to hear what Crunch had to say about American economics. Warning - This is a VERY partisan book. If you are a far left liberal and want to hear someone with some credentials tell you what you want to hear, you'll like this.
The overwhelming concensus of this book is that we can tax those with money to take care of all of our social needs. Unions good... free market bad! He often cites studies that have been debunked. For example, he leans heavily on the Card-Krueger study of minimum wage for its effects on unemployment. Google most studies you hear him talk about and you will find a convincing rebuttal.
He points out the disproportionate spending in America on health care, which DOES need to be fixed, but his kneejerk reaction is to advocate national healthcare for everyone! More government=solution.
Missing is any international analysis or reliance on regressions in states that provide health insurance.
He hits home on a few issues, but the answer to some issues IS more government control/spending... but that's his answer to everything... Yay, socialism!
The poor are victims and the rich are bastards. If you already believe this, you will find this book entertaining. You already have a mirror, though.
Mr. Bernstein's review of, and explanation of the US economy is from a Progressive viewpoint. Some may argue that this is "partisan." I say this is not so. All arguments originate from a point of view. Mr. Bernstein has some EXCELLENT ideas, based on logic, historical precedence, and a view that overall growth should benefit all who participated in its realization. If you look at the facts on the ground, one must see that there is a LOT that the "Conservative" movement needs to answer for. The buck must stop with those who called the shots that got us to where we are, ALONG WITH those who are in charge at the time we got where we are.
Mr. Bernstein makes some very insightful and interesting arguments that should have us all thinking deeply about what is it we want as a country, and how can we get there. And that discussion should be in-depth, logical and comprehensive. Stop the marketing and sound-bites, please!
I've enjoyed Bernstein's writings for EPI, and share them with my students. Crunch is an excellent summary of many of the points that he has made, in an entertaining format. Who said an economist has to be dry and humorless?
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