The Complacent Class
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A Wall Street Journal and Washington Post Bestseller "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 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 near-sightedness 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.
"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 ... Tyler Cowen, is that Americans today have broken from this tradition--we're working harder than ever to avoid change ... Cowen [believes that] there are significant collateral downsides attending this comfort, among them heightened inequality and segregation and decreased incentives to innovate and create"--Amazon.com.
Few Americans would disagree that serious problems plague their country's education system. But what is the real reason for this serious malady? According to author and long-time teacher Rick Tobin, the usual suspects-beleaguered teachers, overcrowded classrooms, lack of funds, etc.-aren't to blame. Tobin believes that critics of the educational system have totally missed the point and that educational reform is aimed in the wrong direction. In his view, academic failure is the direct result of a loss of faith in American democracy. Current teaching objectives and the laws governing schools are failing to emphasize moral responsibility and personal accountability-fundamental aspects of the ethical framework that form the basis of American democracy and American education. These problems stem from what Tobin terms a prevailing "egoist" culture in America that largely ignores moral character building and downplays the need for individual accountability. He contends there are millions of Americans who fall within nine "classes" of people who are largely responsible for our educational mediocrity. Rick Tobin doesn't mince words in this candid expose, in which he also offers solutions for remedying our educational woes.
An against-the-grain polemic on American capitalism from New York Times bestselling author Tyler Cowen. We love to hate the 800-pound gorilla. Walmart and Amazon destroy communities and small businesses. Facebook turns us into addicts while putting our personal data at risk. From skeptical politicians like Bernie Sanders who, at a 2016 presidential campaign rally said, “If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” to millennials, only 42 percent of whom support capitalism, belief in big business is at an all-time low. But are big companies inherently evil? If business is so bad, why does it remain so integral to the basic functioning of America? Economist and bestselling author Tyler Cowen says our biggest problem is that we don’t love business enough. In Big Business, Cowen puts forth an impassioned defense of corporations and their essential role in a balanced, productive, and progressive society. He dismantles common misconceptions and untangles conflicting intuitions. According to a 2016 Gallup survey, only 12 percent of Americans trust big business “quite a lot,” and only 6 percent trust it “a great deal.” Yet Americans as a group are remarkably willing to trust businesses, whether in the form of buying a new phone on the day of its release or simply showing up to work in the expectation they will be paid. Cowen illuminates the crucial role businesses play in spurring innovation, rewarding talent and hard work, and creating the bounty on which we’ve all come to depend.
An influential economist challenges popular opinions about the superiority of locally grown and expensive foods, demonstrating how to eat responsibly without submitting to fashion-driven trends. By the author of the best-selling e-book, The Great Stagnation. 35,000 first printing.
Tyler Cowen’s controversial New York Times bestseller—the book heard round the world that ignited a firestorm of debate and redefined the nature of America’s economic malaise. America has been through the biggest financial crisis since the great Depression, unemployment numbers are frightening, media wages have been flat since the 1970s, and it is common to expect that things will get worse before they get better. Certainly, the multidecade stagnation is not yet over. How will we get out of this mess? One political party tries to increase government spending even when we have no good plan for paying for ballooning programs like Medicare and Social Security. The other party seems to think tax cuts will raise revenue and has a record of creating bigger fiscal disasters that the first. Where does this madness come from? As Cowen argues, our economy has enjoyed low-hanging fruit since the seventeenth century: free land, immigrant labor, and powerful new technologies. But during the last forty years, the low-hanging fruit started disappearing, and we started pretending it was still there. We have failed to recognize that we are at a technological plateau. The fruit trees are barer than we want to believe. That's it. That is what has gone wrong and that is why our politics is crazy. In The Great Stagnation, Cowen reveals the underlying causes of our past prosperity and how we will generate it again. This is a passionate call for a new respect of scientific innovations that benefit not only the powerful elites, but humanity as a whole.
How the leisure class has been replaced by a new elite, and how their consumer habits affect us all In today’s world, the leisure class has been replaced by a new elite. Highly educated and defined by cultural capital rather than income bracket, these individuals earnestly buy organic, carry NPR tote bags, and breast-feed their babies. They care about discreet, inconspicuous consumption—like eating free-range chicken and heirloom tomatoes, wearing organic cotton shirts and TOMS shoes, and listening to the Serial podcast. They use their purchasing power to hire nannies and housekeepers, to cultivate their children’s growth, and to practice yoga and Pilates. In The Sum of Small Things, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett dubs this segment of society “the aspirational class” and discusses how, through deft decisions about education, health, parenting, and retirement, the aspirational class reproduces wealth and upward mobility, deepening the ever-wider class divide. Exploring the rise of the aspirational class, Currid-Halkett considers how much has changed since the 1899 publication of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. In that inflammatory classic, which coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption,” Veblen described upper-class frivolities: men who used walking sticks for show, and women who bought silver flatware despite the effectiveness of cheaper aluminum utensils. Now, Currid-Halkett argues, the power of material goods as symbols of social position has diminished due to their accessibility. As a result, the aspirational class has altered its consumer habits away from overt materialism to more subtle expenditures that reveal status and knowledge. And these transformations influence how we all make choices. With a rich narrative and extensive interviews and research, The Sum of Small Things illustrates how cultural capital leads to lifestyle shifts and what this forecasts, not just for the aspirational class but for everyone.
The world has become increasingly separated into the haves and have-nots. In The Culture of Contentment, renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith shows how a contented class—not the privileged few but the socially and economically advantaged majority—defend their comfortable status at a cost. Middle-class voting against regulation and increased taxation that would remedy pressing social ills has created a culture of immediate gratification, leading to complacency and hampering long-term progress. Only economic disaster, military action, or the eruption of an angry underclass seem capable of changing the status quo. A groundbreaking critique, The Culture of Contentment shows how the complacent majority captures the political process and determines economic policy.
A fresh take on social class from the experts behind the BBC's 'Great British Class Survey'. Why does social class matter more than ever in Britain today? How has the meaning of class changed? What does this mean for social mobility and inequality? In this book Mike Savage and the team of sociologists responsible for the Great British Class Survey look beyond the labels to explore how and why our society is changing and what this means for the people who find themselves in the margins as well as in the centre. Their new conceptualization of class is based on the distribution of three kinds of capital - economic (inequalities in income and wealth), social (the different kinds of people we know) and cultural (the ways in which our leisure and cultural preferences are exclusive) - and provides incontrovertible evidence that class is as powerful and relevant today as it's ever been.