The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics

Thomas Edsall, Author
Thomas Byrne Edsall. Doubleday, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-53519-9
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011
Release date: 01/10/2012
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-307-94645-4
Open Ebook - 254 pages - 978-0-385-53520-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-17945-5
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In this erudite primer on the conditions that have brought us to this moment of economic crisis, journalist and Columbia University professor Edsall (Chain Reaction) argues that the U.S. faces a future of diminished resources, and, as a result of partisan intractability, the possibility that we won’t overcome current challenges to long-term prosperity. Tracing the moral underpinnings of the conflict between Democrats and Republicans, Edsall explains how the parties’ value systems differ on such concepts as freedom, liberty, fairness, and the collective good. “The United States is now split ideologically to the extent that falsehoods to one faction are truths to the other,” he writes. In this atmosphere, elected officials choose political victory over socially or economically beneficial action. While Washington protects its interests and those of the wealthiest Americans, the rest of the country faces soaring costs, crumbling infrastructure, and diminishing opportunities for education, jobs, and overall quality of life. Providing ample sociological and economic evidence via descriptive graphs and in-depth analysis, Edsall argues that decisions are being shaped by the destructive politics of scarcity, and that without decisive action to reverse the course of our sagging economy, we’re destined to fall behind. Although perhaps too academic in tone for a general audience, the book illuminates hard but necessary truths. (Jan.)
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