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The Complacent Class Audiobook

The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream

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Publisher's Summary

Since Alexis de Tocqueville, restlessness has been accepted as a signature American trait. Our willingness to move, take risks, and adapt to change have produced a dynamic economy and a tradition of innovation from Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs.

The problem, according to legendary blogger, economist, and best-selling author Tyler Cowen, is that Americans today have broken from this tradition - we're working harder than ever to avoid change. We're moving residences less, marrying people more like ourselves, and choosing our music and our mates based on algorithms that wall us off from anything that might be too new or too different. Match.com matches us in love. Spotify and Pandora match us in music. Facebook matches us to just about everything else.

Of course, this "matching culture" brings tremendous positives: music we like, partners who make us happy, neighbors who want the same things. We're more comfortable. But, according to Cowen, there are significant collateral downsides attending this comfort, among them heightened inequality and segregation and decreased incentives to innovate and create.

The Complacent Class argues that this cannot go on forever. We are postponing change due to our nearsightedness and extreme desire for comfort, but ultimately this will make change, when it comes, harder. The forces unleashed by the Great Stagnation will eventually lead to a major fiscal and budgetary crisis: impossibly expensive rentals for our most attractive cities, worsening of residential segregation, and a decline in our work ethic. The only way to avoid this difficult future is for Americans to force themselves out of their comfortable slumber - to embrace their restless tradition again.

©2017 Tyler Cowen (P)2017 Gildan Media LLC

What the Critics Say

"Tyler Cowen's blog, Marginal Revolution, is the first thing I read every morning. And his brilliant new book, The Complacent Class, has been on my nightstand after I devoured it in one sitting. I am at round-the-clock Cowen saturation right now." (Malcolm Gladwell)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (69 )
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  •  
    Ben Anderson 05-26-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Interesting Perspective"

    The logic and observation based thinking helped this book become more real in my mind. The author laid out theories without criticism or intense feelings towards opposing viewpoints in this book. I enjoyed it for it's down to earth approach, and some very thought provoking info was brought forward.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RJW 05-06-17
    RJW 05-06-17 Member Since 2015
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    "MUST READ"


    This book is a MUST READ. For a new generation flooded with hardware and software, Cowen offers important insights into a general decline in risk-taking and creativity that has been reinforced by the literal codification of existence. More and more our devices are lulling us into (advertiser-funded) augmented realities that render us into a state of numbness easily appeased by consumer goods. Cowen effectively uses social and economic examples from history and from other nations to illustrate the profound existential challenges on the rise in our device-driven realities.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EVM 05-03-17
    EVM 05-03-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Badly argued, selective use of data"
    Would you be willing to try another book from Tyler Cowen? Why or why not?

    Perhaps. I expected better argumentation and tighter reasoning from him.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Dissapointment at the loose structure of the book, lack of cohesion, and general 'overfitting' of the data to support his arguments.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin 05-01-17
    Kevin 05-01-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Interesting information"

    The "a priori" truth is that "America is the greatest country in the world" all the other logic is based on that unproven fact. This makes him willing to ask questions as long as they are not foundational.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William J. Sankey NY 04-27-17 Member Since 2017

    Vaster

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    "Confused at times"

    There are some intriguing insights in this book especially around NIMBY culture and urban policy but too often the author loses his point. In one chapter he seems to lament the loss of violent protest and doesn't circle back around to explain himself fully.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 04-27-17
    Andrew 04-27-17 Member Since 2013

    Theoretical chemist

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    "An interesting read but not a scholarly treatise"
    Any additional comments?

    This is a well-written book that musters a lot of arguments about the lack of energy and drive to succeed in the USA since the 1970's. The author could actually have written a much more upbeat book titled, "The Contented Class", with the same statistics. He could have noted that poverty has been (essentially) abolished in the USA and even poor people have much more "stuff" than middle class people did in the 1940's and 1950's. Then, he could have described how having "enough" has led to contentment and a lack of desire to get more of everything, which might even break the cycle of growth that has caused so many environmental problems. Instead, as with most economists, he sees growth as key to everything.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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