Now, the tide may be turning, and in Paul Krugman, the world's most widely read economist and one of its most influential political commentators, charts the way to reform.
Krugman ranges over a century of history and shows that neither the American middle-class nor the baby boomers who grew up in the increasingly oligarchic nation we have become over the past generation evolved naturally. Both were created, to a large extent, by government policies guided by organized political movements.
The Conscience of a Liberal promises to reshape public debate about American social policy and become a touchstone work for an entire generation.
©2007 Paul Krugman; (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"A compelling historical defense of liberalism and a clarion call for Americans to retake control of their economic destiny." (Publishers Weekly)
If you are already convinced of the liberal position, I suppose this book would serve as a good champagne bath. If, however, you'd like a more substantive presentation of the position, I recommend The Law of Peoples by John Rawls.
This book has turned me off to other books by Dr. Krugman. I hoped a scholar of his renown would be able to deliver a deep defense of the positions he holds. Instead, I found a purely emotive presentation of his worldview. I was very disappointed, and will look elsewhere in the future when consuming material on liberal political ideology.
I went in to this book as a Libertarian hoping to gain perspective on the underlying logic of the liberal worldview. Instead, Dr. Krugman delivers a shallow diatribe against the wealthy and in favor of redistribution of wealth without ever addressing the philosophical underpinnings of the position. Beginning from the apparently axiomatic point that the wealthy owe a debt to the poor, Dr. Krugman spends his book outlining the various ways in which societal problems could be addressed if only we would tax the wealthy or regulate Wall Street. Absent is any defense of why it is justified to do these things. I really wanted to like this book; sadly, I did not.
Lest you think I merely hated the book because I disagreed with the premise, I would suggest that the work of John Rawls provides a much more satisfying read. I still do not agree with his premises, but I greatly enjoyed his precise logic and feel that I better understand the liberal position after reading his work.
I was very disappointed in this book, especially how out dated it was. I think it would be a much better book if the author would just update it to this decade.
It's hard to disagree with anything Krugman says. He cites overwhelming evidence that the American dream for the middle class is under attack from the radical right.
Have you ever disagreed with a liberal? If you have, and have wondered why they don't listen, don't respond to your questions, or simply refuse to give you eye-contact, you must listen to this book to understand why.
Paul Krugman's book shouldn't be called "Conscience of a Liberal" it should be called "Why Movement Conservatives are Nasty People".
I teach economics and this review will not attempt to dispute any of Krugman's unscientific conclusions. Krugman the philosopher - not the economist - wrote this book. He recites some magazine article that someone wrote decades ago and then tells us what that writer meant, and how "code-words" were used to communicate devious messages. Sorry, I didn't get my de-coder ring that year so I didn't get those messages. And, of course, anyone remotely attached to that person is stereotyped as a nasty Movement Conservative.
For example, a decade or so ago some religious figure said something about a "Christian" government. That obviously means all Christians want a Christian Theocracy. How ridiculous. Another example is Krugman's assertion that the U.S.A. does not reward hard work nor does it offer equal opportunity. How does he justify this conclusion? He found that in 1988 eight graders were given a math test. Those who scored in the top quartile in math somehow didn't do as well as those whose parents were in the top quartile of income. Wow, that's certainly conclusive. Tell that to Warren Buffett, or just about any baseball, basketball, or football player, entertainer, or small business owner.
If you met a liberal and he/she thinks you're not a walking, talking clone of Paul Krugman, he/she will immediately stereotype you as a nasty person who isn't worthy of attention. Sorry, that's what I got out of this book.
I must say I'm having a hard time deciding whether or not to even bother finishing this book. Krugman is petulant, and uses data (whether or not it is reliable data) toward his own pre-conceived conclusions. There are many, many sections where he contradicts himself, or otherwise ignores facts that don't fit what he's trying to accomplish.
Through past works, I've come to know Krugman as a talented economist. He bastardizes his expertise with this liberal feel-good book. Now that Obama is trying to repeat most of what Krugman advocates, we'll see if he owns up to the coming failures.
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