We Are Better Than This fundamentally reframes budget debates in the United States. Author Edward D. Kleinbard explains how the public's preoccupation with tax policy alone has obscured any understanding of government's ability to complement the private sector through investment and insurance programs that enhance the general welfare and prosperity of our society at large. He argues that when we choose how government should spend and tax, we open a window into our "fiscal soul", because those choices are the means by which we express the values we cherish and the regard in which we hold our fellow citizens. Though these values are being diminished by short-sighted decisions to starve government, strategic government spending can directly make citizens happier, healthier, and even wealthier.
Expertly combining the latest economic research with his insider knowledge of the budget process into a simple yet compelling narrative, he unmasks the tax mythologies and false arguments that too often dominate contemporary discourse about budget policies. Large quantities of comparative data are succinctly distilled to situate the United States among its peer countries, so that readers can judge for themselves whether contemporary budget choices really reflect our aspirational fiscal soul. Kleinbard's presentation takes a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on economics, finance, law, political science and moral philosophy. He uniquely weaves economic research and moral philosophy together by emphasizing our welfare, not just our national income, and by contrasting the actual beliefs of Adam Smith, a great moral philosopher, with the cartoon version of the man presented by proponents of the most extreme forms of private market triumphalism.
©2015 Edward D. Kleinbard (P)2014 Audible Inc.
I would recommend everyone to read this book regardless of one's political view. At a minimum, it helps to make one a better informed citizen even if one disagrees with the author's ideologies and political leaning.
Professor Kleinbard has done a masterful job succinctly introducing, analyzing and critiquing a rich body of research in economics, philosophy, and social and fiscal policies and forcefully presented his view on how and why we could and should do better. The book is surprisingly readable and even entertaining at times.
It is refreshing to hear the voice of the Dutch uncle (or Don Quixote?). The book is well organized and informative. And can one dare to hope that it may be possible to generate enough voice to pull the national away from the fiscal jerkdom, even just a little?
Grateful that the book is eventually made available as an audiobook. Mr. Johnson did a nice job reading this very long book on a very serious topic, once I got pass his way of saying EBITDA in Chapter 1. I did hear the voice of reason and persuasion often, although not quite the unbridled enthusiasm of Professor Kleinbard. Once in a while the voice seemed to drift into simply reading but overall, Mr. Johnson's performance was quite engaging.
The audiobook comes with a reference guide containing all the figures and tables that can be downloaded from the Audible website.
An exhilarating listen!
An excellent insight into proper applications of Adam Smith's ideas for today's tax policies. Very long, and full of interesting ideas. A little dry, but I think you should expect some dryness from a tax policy book.
Rather than be too political it was very prescriptive in a way that is generally understandable. Yet it's hard to avoid politics or getting deep in the weeds of economics but it was a good blend. The most "negative" concept was his use of Market Triumphalist to describe the libertarian view of economics. Yet some kind of line of demarcation was required and it also was describing those who are unbendable to anything towards the middle rather than anyone who sided with a more fiscally conservative stance. I like to be snarky, but know that the more snarky something is the fewer people will listen on the other side of your issue. The most valuable insight was his idea to wipe things clean and start over to remove the barnacles of years of glomming on of tax "waivers" and such. There are something similar brought back in but very strategic rather than everyone getting something which defeats the purpose of the tax system. Like everyone paying in a 100 dollars and getting $98.93 back. My farcical example but nearly what it's like.
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