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All Together Now: Common Sense for a Fair Economyby Jared Bernstein
Synopses & Reviews
As the new century unfolds, we face prodigious, new economic and social challenges, but thus far the dominant vision has failed to develop a hopeful, positive narrative about how these challenges can be met in such a way as to uplift the majority. Instead, messages such as “it’s your money” (mantra of the first GW Bush campaign), and frames such as “the ownership society” stress an ever-shrinking role for government and much more individual risk-taking as opposed to risk-pooling.
Discussion of the role of government has devolved into an extreme version of individualism. The message — sometimes implicit, but often explicit — is, “You’re on your own.” Economist Jared Bernstein argues that such policies promote an excessive spirit of individualism, and in doing so damage our polity and diminish the potential of our society, both in the present and especially in the future. They needlessly reduce our economic security and the living standards of most families.
All Together Now presents an alternative vision, one which applauds individual freedom but emphasizes such freedoms are best realized with a more collectivist approach to public policy. The message is simple: we’re all in this together.
Book News Annotation:
The extreme "you're on your own" individualism that currently guides economic policy-making in Washington and much of our national discourse is, according to Bernstein (a senior economist and director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC), "hurting our nation, endangering our future and that of our children, and, paradoxically, making it harder for individuals to get a fair shot at the American dream." He describes the emergence of this extremist paradigm amongst policy-makers and economists and proposes his own "we're in this together" alternative, which aims not for "redistributionist Robin Hood schemes," but for reconnecting a "flexible economy to the living standards of all." Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
We have it in our power to begin the world again. So said American patriot Tom Paine, who, like the other Founders, saw this country as a unique opportunity to build a society that values the well-being of the majority over the interests of the few.
Over the past few decades, we?ve lost sight of Paine?s vision. Our government has adopted a YOYO (you?re-on-your-own) response to even the most pressing problems?diminished job security, increasingly poor health coverage, stagnant incomes, decaying public schools, and more. ?Here?s a tax cut and a private account,? they tell us, ?now go fend for yourself.?
It hasn?t worked.
The YOYO strategy has proven incapable of addressing the economic challenges that confront us. It?s a failed approach that favors the wealthy few while eroding living standards and increasing insecurity for the rest of us.
All Together Now details an alternative WITT (we?re-in-this-together) strategy for solving our most daunting problems, showing how the challenges we face can be solved through a practical and collaborative response that does not increase national spending. Together, we can wield the tools of government to build a more just and equitable society.
As the new century unfolds, Americans face prodigious economic and social challenges, yet nothing unifies the various strategies and causes that attempt to meet these challenges. Economist Jared Bernstein believes that frames such as ""the ownership society"" stress an ever-shrinking role for government and an ever-increasing risk for individuals, clearly implying ""You're on your own."" Arguing that this shift toward extreme individualism needlessly reduces the country's economic security and the living standards of most families, he describes the political and economic forces that pushed the country away from collective action and exposes the significant societal costs associated with the shift. Most importantly, he presents a new vision, one that applauds individual liberties while emphasizing that such freedoms are best realized with a collectivist approach to public policy. A timely alternative to a go-it-alone society, ""All Together Now shows readers how to tap their ""better selves"" to meet the coming challenges as one.
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