Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal is a well-researched and masterfully crafted book that examines why the American middle class and relative income equality following the New Deal through the late 1970s have eroded over the past three and a half decades.

Krugman begins by demonstrating how the modern American middle class did not evolve but was systematically created through political movements, principally the New Deal reforms that led to the American welfare state. From this premise, Krugman shows how "movement conservatives" organized and came to power and exploited racial and cultural divisions until they were powerful enough to win elections and begin undermining the New Deal's achievements.

This has culminated, Krugman argues, in the movement conservative presidency of George Bush, whose disaster in Iraq and policies that favor the wealthy and big business have all exacerbated income inequality and, in effect, laid the groundwork for a new liberalism and progressive movement to reclaim power and restore and build on the fundamentals of the New Deal.

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