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The Conscience of a Liberal

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  4,361 ratings  ·  342 reviews
America emerged from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal with strong democratic values and broadly shared prosperity. But for the past thirty years American politics has been dominated by a conservative movement determined to undermine the New Deal’s achievements.

Now, the tide may be turning–and in The Conscience of a Liberal Paul Krugman, the world’s most widely read economist
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Published October 2nd 2007 by Random House Audio (first published 2007)
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It is interesting to read this book, which was written a couple of years before Obama was elected, now that it is a couple of years after his election. This is an important book and one I would encourage you to read.

There was a time when America was a country that was interested in equality and was not really a ‘class’ society – but more a ‘middle-class’ society. There were rich and poor people, but mostly there was a kind of extended middle. That is no longer the case. Now the US is perhaps be
Bill  Kerwin

It can be interesting--and a little sad--to look at political books written two presidential elections ago, and see what they predict about the future of America.

Paul Krugman, in 2007, argued that the New Deal led to a lessening of inequality In America which in turn fueled our postwar boom and promoted relatively non-partisan politics until the '70's. Since then, movement conservatism's methodical dismantling of the social safety net led to an ever-widening income gap and an ever-increasing pa
In the 1990s Paul Krugman famously asserted that 70% of the wealth that had been accumulated between 1977-1989 belonged to the top 1% of the population. Those facts still remain, but history has distorted the legacy of President Reagan, turning an actor and communicator into a great policy maker. The truth is that for the average American, Ronald Reagan was anything but a great policy maker. In fact, he was the ultimate creator of the income inequality that we live with today.

In 2007, with a cri
You want to understand how the two major political parties came to be what they are today.

You're curious about how racism and the history of slavery play an uncomfortable but undeniable role in America's resistance to provide her citizens with the care and basic support other wealthy nations deem fundamental.

Also you're an elitist baby-killing commie.

Well, that means you want to read this book.

Krugman demystifies the surge of movement conservatism and calls on liberals to be progressive in their
Pete Sikora
Mar 09, 2008 Pete Sikora rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: commies in training
What's with the well-reasoned arguments and incontrovertible facts, Paul? Enough with the "evidence" and "studies". I mean, why do you want to show that your arguments are correct with actual data. Jeez.

But seriously, folks. Krugman writes like the really good teaching economist that he is. This book rocks.

He's got a great - if not entirely original - dissection of the right wing movement's growth. Ditto arguments on income inequality and health care. He's got this great teaching manner that is
Inequality and American politics according to Krugman. Unlike Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative, from which this book took its title, Conscience of a Liberal is not really a manifesto of "Liberal" principles or values. Instead the book tries to convey two main ideas that are more political and historical: 1) Inequality in America is driven more by political and social forces than by market forces. 2) Republicans owe their political success purely to greed and bigotry (oh and cheatin ...more
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Krugman is a rare thing: an economist who makes good predictions. He's also one who cares about how economics affects people.

I was reading along, getting an overview of income inequality at the turn of the 20th century, and I just couldn't take any more. Over my lifetime it's gotten steadily worse until we are once again in a time of Gatsbys, and it pisses me off so much I want to scream. Every time anyone says anything good about Reagan I want to point out that real wages have been falling sinc
The Concience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman plays off the title of Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative.

Although Krugman's book was published in 2007 (Goldwater's back in the 1960s), it remains worth reading. In fact, it is prescient in two major ways.

First, Krugman focuses hard on income inequality, which is a hot topic in 2014. His argument is that over the last 30+ years, taxes on the wealthy have gone down, social programs have been constrained, unions have been busted, and the
Peter Mcloughlin
I like political books.Especially ones I agree with. Even if their message is that you dear citizen are screwed you still get the satisfaction of having your views vindicated. It is being able to say "see, I told you so." that genuinely feels good. It is why there were bumper stickers in New England around the time of Watergate that said "Don't Blame me, I'm from Massachusetts" (antiquarians of the election of 1972 will get it). It is the bird's eye view of the social forces around you that pol ...more
Vannessagrace Vannessagrace

I found Chapter 8, Politics of Inequality, the most informative. The chapter outlines how George W. Bush and Dick Cheney came to lead the country and how it's tied to William F. Buckley defending the right of the South to prevent blacks from voting— the white community is so entitled because it is, for the time being, the advanced race. And how they praised Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who overthrew a democratically elected government in the name of church and property.

Another passage that ca

Apr 04, 2008 Julia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alayne, Katijane, Amber, Nate
Did you know that, at the start of the 1970s, the highest tax rate was 70 percent, as opposed to 35 percent now? This is the kind of thing you learn from The Conscience of a Liberal.

I love PK; I think he is heaven sent. In fact, he just became my best friend. This book falls just short of a perfect read, but I doubt very much that many agree with me. In it, Krugman is trying to sell the welfare state by coherent economic argument - bril! I love that he is unabashed in his desire for a progressiv
Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman takes us on a journey from the New Deal's advent to its creation; relates the resulting three-decade era of relative prosperity, equality, and bipartisanship; navigates the rise of "movement conservatism" and the assaults on the New Deal (and thus on equality) which occurred from the early 1970s through the present; and finally prescribes an agenda for the (predicted) Democratic congressional majority and presidency in 2009, with a focus on socialized health insur ...more
The weakness of this book is that it is largely preaching to the choir. Yes, the national Republican Party is run by a bunch of lying bastards who hate minorities, the poor, democracy, and Christianity.'ve either accepted that or you've closed your eyes in denial. Writing a partisan tract isn't going to change anyone's mind.

The best part of the book is a history of the evolution of the Republican party in the twentieth century. Krugman layers this with comparisons of how the economy is
Krugman already has one Nobel (for economics); he should get another for writing about economic policy in a way that's actually easy to understand and enjoyable! In this surprisingly fast read he explains--among other things--the fundamental goals of "movement conservatism," the historical context of FDR's era and the New Deal, and the worsening social inequality that has been going on for the last few decades. It's refreshing to hear intelligent arguments backed up with data, though Krugman doe ...more
Paul Krugman is, hands down, the most thoughtful and reasonable economist I have ever read. He just won the Nobel Prize in Economics but that is not what makes him readable. He has written a LOT and many of the things he has written are, and are intended to be, quite accessible to the general audience. He also writes an Op-Ed for the New York Times.

He has convinced me that Barack Obama should draft him to give advice on the economic catastrophe. He has written extensively on The Great Depression
The first 100 pages is the best history of the two party system that I have ever read! I first became interested in Klugman when I read an editorial in the NYTimes about universal health care. The article reflected how I felt about the subject exactly. When I heard he had written a political book, I had to read it.

Klugman is an economist who teaches at Princeton, and writes a weekly column for the Times. He is an accomplished writer, and this book is an easy read and real page turner.

I highly r
I remember Paul Krugman once remarking that his NYT editors would consistently cut down the length of the columns he submitted so he started submitting columns below the mandated word count. Being so economical with his words has helped him craft a clear and concise treatise on why espousing liberal ideas consistently makes economic and, just as importantly, moral sense. Krugman displays courage in unabashedly defending progressive ideas despite being a professor and author in a field that gener ...more
A well argued book.

Krugman essential argues that the Republican party has been taken over by extreme conservatives who favor a dismantling of the welare state which began with the New Deal.

He recommends a Single payer health care system as the center of a "new New deal" to repair the damage done to the welfare state by 30 years of far right political dominance.

Single Payer is, Krugman argues, both cheaper and more effective. Not to mention the moral imperative to ensure that everyone actually h
My book club outvoted me--I didn't want to read this book, because I figured a regular reader of Krugman's columns would not get much from it. I guess I thought this was a compendium of the columns or something.

Boy, was I wrong! This is a great book, must reading for anyone who cares about the direction we have been moving in. Krugman makes a good case for political action now to get a universal health care plan in place, let the tax cuts expire, reverse the government's attacks on unions and so
Paulo O'Brien
This is a must read for anyone who cares to understand the swings of political and economic power between conservative and liberal forces over the past 100 years. Fascinating to learn that the rise of the middle class (in the 50's) -- which is what made America great -- was the result of FDR and govt intervention, not 'natural market forces' at all. Now that inequality is greater than ever between the rich and the poor -- and we have an administration that is trying to redress the imbalance (wit ...more
Krugman really makes the case (and he's well qualified to do so) -- a case he says he wasn't willing to make when he started to write the book even -- that the wild swing in our economy that favors the rich and creates more and more filthy rich while leaving the middle class largely stagnant hasn't been just something that happened as a result technology-driven changes in the nature of our economy (as is often posited) but rather the result of very deliberate policy changes. The lesson is that t ...more
Andrea Fortwendel
This book gave me history and ideology on progressive / liberal thinkers such as myself. Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning Princeton economics professor. He addresses the differences between the parties and why movement conservatism has become an institution for the elite. Therefore the income gap has grown to unprecedented proportions. Conscience of a Liberal is inspiring and hopeful. Krugman outlines excellent arguments in favor of universal healthcare and other progressive issues. It is fascin ...more
Benjamin Church
Nov 06, 2007 Benjamin Church rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those hoping the democrats don't choose hillary
Paul Krugman is obviously a remarkably intelligent writer and political economist and this book is a concise and convincing case for the reinstitution of welfare state politics as the backbone of a resurgent democratic political party. Hopefully something like what Krugman hopes for will actually happen, but I'm not too hopeful. Remember Bush? Anyway, not too dry and strongly agrued in its appeal to Keynesian and New Deal economic theories instead of just a basic appeal to help out the less fort ...more
Outstanding book. Krugman’s historical treatment of the conservative movement and the politics of race is unflinching. I’ve heard the criticism that he often cherry picks his facts in order to bolster an argument however, the data he presents leaves his call for a return to New Deal style policies and progressive taxation on solid ground. His presentation of all the detrimental effects of movement conservatism is spot on. This book sums up what should be the core beliefs of the modern democratic ...more
50 years ago I read Barry Goldwater’s CONSCIENCE OF A CONSERVATIVE and became a follower of Barry, even voted for him in l964. Now I find myself in Krugman’s camp. Granted this is no Damascus lightning bolt, but has it taken me half a century to find political wisdom? Or is it a half century slide into foolishness?
Leaving aside reasons why I made such a autobiographical u-turn, interesting or boring as they might be, Krugman makes sense to me today. He argues that Democrats are the TRUE conser
Aaron Arnold
I've been a regular reader of his always-interesting New York Times columns for years, but ever since I studied his work on trade and urban geography in grad school (coincidentally, the work that would gain him the 2008 Economics Nobel Prize), I've been a huge admirer of his serious economics work as well. The Conscience of a Liberal is a response of sorts to Barry Goldwaters's highly influential 1960 book The Conscience of a Conservative, making the case that if the United States is to remain a ...more
At first, I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book. To be honest, I thought Krugman was just going to be too liberal for me. I was expecting to be bowled over with statistics and numbers, and I imagined I would read this book thinking, "yeah, but.. I'm not so sure if I buy this argument."

Well.. there are a lot of statistics and numbers, sure. But.. that's not really the point of this book, I don't think. Krugman IS liberal -- but he makes a convincing case for why that's a very GOOD thing
(Summer reading for 12th grade)

This is an ambitious book that covers a vast range of topics concerning American politics and economics since the 20th century. Krugman draws parallels between the present and the past and offers many ways to return America to the way it was under FDR: democratic, middle-class, and with greater social and economic equality than there is now. It's a very interesting and surprisingly easy to understand book, and I definitely learned a lot.


Favorite quotes:

"The most
The Conscience of a Liberal, by Paul Krugman

Krugman, who just garnered a Nobel Prize in Economics this past year, is an unapologetic liberal. Or more specifically, as he likes to re-clarify at the end of his two-hundred-some page treatise, progressive. Coming out just a year before the recent election of the Democratic candidate to the U.S. Presidency and the economic fallout of eight years of Republican policies – effectively a mass repudiation of the cronyism and bullishness of movement conser
The thing about Paul Krugman is that, even though some of the things he says are far from the middle of the road, he is so modest in the way he says it and lacks the arrogance you might expect from someone espousing such views that I don't even notice. He really is a good writer that way, and probably reaches a much broader audience because of it.
This isn't my favorite work of Krugman's. I didn't think anything was added to the argument. The first half of the book, which focuses on historical pe
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Paul Robin Krugman is an American economist, liberal columnist and author. He is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his contributions ...more
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