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The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America

By: Oren Cass
Narrated by: Tom Parks
Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Economics
4.5 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“[Cass’s] core principle - a culture of respect for work of all kinds - can help close the gap dividing the two Americas….” -William A. Galston, The Brookings Institution 

The American worker is in crisis. Wages have stagnated for more than a generation. Reliance on welfare programs has surged. Life expectancy is falling as substance abuse and obesity rates climb.

These woes are not the inevitable result of irresistible global and technological forces. They are the direct consequence of a decades-long economic consensus that prioritized increasing consumption - regardless of the costs to American workers, their families, and their communities. Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency focused attention on the depth of the nation’s challenges, yet while everyone agrees something must change, the Left’s insistence on still more government spending and the Right’s faith in still more economic growth are recipes for repeating the mistakes of the past.

In this groundbreaking re-evaluation of American society, economics, and public policy, Oren Cass challenges our basic assumptions about what prosperity means and where it comes from to reveal how we lost our way. The good news is that we can still turn things around - if the nation’s proverbial elites are willing to put the American worker’s interests first.

Which is more important, pristine air quality, or well-paying jobs that support families? Unfettered access to the cheapest labor in the world, or renewed investment in the employment of Americans? Smoothing the path through college for the best students, or ensuring that every student acquires the skills to succeed in the modern economy? Cutting taxes, expanding the safety net, or adding money to low-wage paychecks?

The renewal of work in America demands new answers to these questions. If we reinforce their vital role, workers supporting strong families and communities can provide the foundation for a thriving, self-sufficient society that offers opportunity to all.

©2018 Oren Cass (P)2018 Black Hills Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Oren Cass has accomplished the rare feat of not only saying something truly new and innovative about our society, but also doing it in a readable, engrossing way. The Once and Future Worker is a wake-up call to our political class, and indeed the whole country, that rising consumption can't replace that most basic of goods―a job. A brilliant book. And among the most important I've ever read." (J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy)

"No one has better articulated the conservative argument for why work matters to America's long-term prosperity than Oren Cass. Oren's insightful prescription for what ails us should be required reading for those who endeavor to create a labor market in which workers can create and support strong families and communities." (Mitt Romney)

"Through an unflinching indictment of the mistakes that Washington has made for a generation and continues to make today, Oren Cass forcefully draws out the contradictions of a consensus that has actively displaced Americans from their national inheritance of good jobs and thriving hometowns. The Once and Future Worker offers much-needed clarity for how to make the American Dream possible for the many." (Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

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Great book. Better policy recommendations

I have read a number of books in this category: “here’s the state of the world and what we’re doing wrong and how we could do better.” None have summarized as many critical issues as thoughtfully or made better recommendations than this book. Unless you are stubbornly and robotically entrenched in your views, you will come away hoping that leaders will consider Oren’s ideas on such issues as refocusing education for job training and subsidizing wages. The latter is the highlight recommendation. Wage subsidies as he describes them would provide more immediate and direct benefit to workers with more limited negative externalities than alternatives (EITC or minimum wage mandates) that discourage or limit work or hiring. Read this book. Discuss it with others.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Contrarian view on what it means to be proworker

You might not be in agreement with some of the arguments, but it is a thoughtful well reasoned articulation of why some of the progressive and conservative orthodoxies might be hurting working class families

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conservative scree explained

a cogent explanation of a very biased view. but the best rationalization of conservatism that I've seen

0 of 2 people found this review helpful