Before I started reading “The Forever War”, I was kind of expecting some polemic about America’s flawed approach in the war on terror but was instead...moreBefore I started reading “The Forever War”, I was kind of expecting some polemic about America’s flawed approach in the war on terror but was instead happily surprised to find a series of somewhat disjointed vignettes demonstrating how war was experienced by soldiers, families, government officials, journalists on both sides of the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. Honest and straightforward, “The Forever War” will not give you a precise understanding of “the big picture” because in societies so utterly abused and war-torn for entire generations, there isn’t one.(less)
I am so impressed that Robert Reich was able to fit so many novel ideas and a remarkably broad survey of the 2008 financial collapse and its causes in...moreI am so impressed that Robert Reich was able to fit so many novel ideas and a remarkably broad survey of the 2008 financial collapse and its causes into a book just shy of 200 pages. Reich has been an ideological dowsing rod of mine since his time in the Clinton Administration, and his belief in a thriving middle class and the reversal of economic inequality is perfectly demonstrated in this passionate manifesto. Instead of moralizing about the “unfairness” of the rich controlling a disproportionate amount of national wealth, Reich approaches the issue through pleas of maintaining market efficiency. The rich spend a far lower percent of their income than the middle class which leads to increased speculation and the creation of bubbles and an economy which fails to consume as much as it can produce. Brilliant simplicity. Many of his positions have been stated by him and others before such as the negative income tax, a higher marginal tax rate on the top 5%, and a public option for health care, but he always manages to bring new ideas into the public debate. In his discussion of the domination of K Street on Washington policymaking, for example, Reich posits that this influence could be dramatically reduced if all political donations to candidates were put into a blind trust thereby killing the favoritism politicians give the donors of large campaign contributions since anyone could claim to have given any amount. Reich leaves the reader with an inevitable swing of the pendulum to better economic equality but says this will occur through one of two means: a populist, dogmatic backlash a la Tea Party or a rational pursuit of long-lasting reform. Boy I hope it’s the latter, but I won’t hold my breath.(less)
I was thinking about giving this 4 stars since it is dearly in need of an update, but I was so impressed by this impassioned, well-argued liberal trea...moreI was thinking about giving this 4 stars since it is dearly in need of an update, but I was so impressed by this impassioned, well-argued liberal treatise, that only five stars will suffice. Too many times to count, I had to go back and reread entire pages because Krugman wrote something that set my mind off tying this book to what has taken place since the ’08 elections. Opposition to health care reform, movement conservatism’s penchant for inciting racial prejudices to push policy, Washington’s love affair with the top 1%, it is oddly prophetic (with the one exception of missing the housing market collapse which is odd since I know from reading his blog that he was well aware of this risk as far back as ’06). If you’re a policy wonk like me, you’ve spent many an hour delving into opinion pieces and journal articles from every possible perspective, continually challenging your ideology, often coming to some uncomfortable or confusing conclusions. Every once and a while, however, it is nice to read a book like The Conscience of a Liberal, to be reminded thoroughly of exactly why you believe the things you do.(less)
Update 12/22/11: One year later, I can't stop thinking about this book. Bumping it up to 5 stars as it clearly left a lasting impression on me.
Ugh! Th...moreUpdate 12/22/11: One year later, I can't stop thinking about this book. Bumping it up to 5 stars as it clearly left a lasting impression on me.
Ugh! This book was so close to being great. It could have attained that fifth star! Unfortunately, I completely lost interest in the last 60 pages and had to force myself to choke down an ending that I knew would be unsatisfying. Oh well. It was still a very worthy read and was engrossing and convincing enough to make a winter trip to NW Minnesota feel sweltering.(less)