The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics
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The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  68 ratings  ·  21 reviews
One of our most prescient political observers provides a sobering account of how pitched battles over scarce resources will increasingly define American politics in the coming years—and how we might avoid, or at least mitigate, the damage from these ideological and economic battles.

In a matter of just three years, a bitter struggle over limited resources has enveloped po...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2012)
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Hadrian
This is a frightening and very prescient perspective and summary of the political and social effects of the current economic crisis.

Our dear author is not optimistic. Nor does he have reason to be. Fiscal and economic pressures hit the political world as hard as they do the common citizen. Austerity seems tempting, but will hit everyone hard, and may yet make some of the issues worse if the economy and fiscal policies are hit too bad. Case in point: Southern Europe.

The parties become more pola...more
SmarterLilac
This is one disturbing book. It discusses, with alarming accuracy, the callous, even grotesque behavior politicians and citizens will engage in during the battle for our limited and diminishing resources. The chapter entitled Race, which details the frighteningly racist behavior Americans have re-embraced in the economic downturn, is particularly heartbreaking.

While I disagree with some of the author's conclusions, specifically his contention that massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare wi...more
Jemma Z
Despite the subject matter I quite enjoyed the thoroughness of Edsall's approach. While he doesn't make concrete predictions about the future of American politics he does paint a bleak picture well supported by statistics and research.
Sabiel
Well, that wasn't depressing at all!
Chris Aylott
Like gridlock and partisan politics? Then you'll love what this book has to say, because Washington Post reporter Thomas Edsall predicts plenty more to come. The rest of us should be worried, because Edsall makes a strong case that the left and right wings have good reason to fight like cats and dogs.

Edsall's main thesis is that for most of the post-World-War-II era, politicians have been able to avoid zero-sum political games. Rising productivity and an expanding economy has made it possible fo...more
Nathan Tensen
Did you recoil from the ugliness over the battle to pass Obama's healthcare law? Were you taken aback by the Republican class of 2010's intensity and how polarized things have become in the Occupy v. Tea Party age? Thomas Byrne Edsall would suggest you ain't seen nothing yet. The Age of Austerity is flawed only by it shortness (you can't help but wished he'd flesh more of these ideas out). As a snapshot of where we are and where the country is headed, this is seriously chilling material. Edsall...more
Shawn
I was captivated by Edsell's chronology and dynamic of the current political situation. I think for both left and right readers, by the middle of thr book, you will get a sinking feeling. The same sinking feel one would get if one were to walk down a dark tunnel, turn back and realize how far you've descended.

I am a cynic and look at political economy as a "Machiavel" and this book reinforces my view that there is no chance of reconciliation between parties anytime soon. While readers may no do...more
Alexander
My central argument with Edsall's book is that it conflates austerity and scarcity. They are not the same thing. His treatment of the politics of austerity is astute and based, as often with his books, on a longer historical perspective than most books about contemporary politics. But he oversteps when he argues that austerity is necessarily a result of scarcity. It isn't. Of course, he may be presuming that scarcity has been successfully framed by conservatives as austerity, but that isn't the...more
H Wesselius
The author does a good job connecting the dots between austerity and its political ramifications in America especially towards immigration and race. Although there are signs the American political system is finally starting to resemble two definitive choices, his attempt to describe the Democrats and Republicans as polar opposites is weak. In America, all politics are local and party discipline is minimal and austerity politics ends in a deadlock over which district will suffer. Party and ideolo...more
Janice
Here’s a book I wish I could memorize, so as to spout from its many cited studies and authoritative sources when I get in arguments or need to convince somebody that we really are in trouble.

I skimmed a little. Had read Chapter Two, “The Moral Underpinnings of the Partisan Conflict,” in the form of an article online. It does a pretty good job of defining the differences between Republicans and Democrats. It allowed a glimpse of understanding of the other side, but the sharp division is there. T...more
Mof
Why did moderates shift right Simple explanations Respect for social norms. Antithapy for Free riders War peace violence and empathy with the world Crime and punishment authority and morals Redistribution and fairness Morals hedonism Roots in 60's Civil rights Women's rights Reproductive rights
Gay rights Welfare rights Mental ill rights Non Christian rights Those were no longer willing to accept losses GOP Skilled in economic combat Control more resources Access to corporate power
Christopher
So...

Bad Thing: Politics become more radicalized during times of fiscal instability.
Really Bad Thing: Liberals cannot cope with this, and are losing politically big time.
Really Really Bad Thing: Conservatives are making political hay out of this situation, and exacerbating it to their own ends.
Really, Really Really, But Not Surprising Bad Thing: At the end of the decade, it'll turn around and bite them on the ass.
Really, Really, Really, Really Bad Thing: Unfortunately, it'll bite the rest of us...more
Sunny
This book is relatively slim and has over 50 pages of acknowledgements at the back - which leaves about 150 +/- pages for the actual book. And, although I thought that the title reflected the authors desire to educate about where politics were headed, in actuality, he just regurgitated what was currently happening in politics today - which you could learn yourself from CNN.com...

I was hoping to have found an enlightening and useful book to make politics interesting to me but what I found was a...more
Lois
This is an informative read with numerous charts and graphs to detail our current political discourse. He made some valid points about the issues, the reasons for the "great recession", and what may happen in the future if politicians continue their non-compromising ways. I would have given the book 4 stars, but I have to admit the book was a very deep read, so it took me awhile to wade through the information.
James
Mr. Edsall presents compelling research and evidence that the polarized politics America has been enduring for the past several years may well continue for many more years and even worsen. An exogenous shock, a Black Swan, is the greatest concern.
Tom
I don't think the author quite got around to why we have the age of austerity or scarcity, but he made it clear Republicans suck when faced with scarcity.
BAKU
Somewhat uneven, but a good overall review of what's happening in the near recent. ( I'm worried about the ' exogenous shock ' too ~ )
Corinne  E. Blackmer
Mar 09, 2012 Corinne E. Blackmer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pilar Stewart
Recommended to Corinne by: NY Times
A brilliant and necessary book. Edsall analyzes the polarization and gridlock that has overcome Washington in definitive terms.
Nancy
A sad account of how scarcity decreases civility and increases polarization and the effect this is having on the United States.
Amazon Wong
Good read. If you don't have to time to follow all the political or economic news. This is an easy straight unbiased book.
Tim
An excellent book about what our country could face with the political brinksmanship being played by politicians today.
Grant Weaver
Grant Weaver marked it as to-read
Jul 14, 2014
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