American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us To Forget What Made America Prosper

Hacker, Jacob S. & . S. & S. Mar. 2016. 464p. notes. index. ISBN 9781451667820. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781451667844. POL SCI
Hacker (Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science; Yale Univ.) and Pierson (John Gross Professor of Political Science, Univ. of California at Berkeley), who previously collaborated on Winner-Take-All Politics, devote Part 1 of this title to the history of the development of a strong mixed U.S. economy, from the Industrial Revolution through the 1960s. They argue this mixed model, with broad political support for government and markets working as complements, led to transformative economic growth and widespread prosperity. Part 2 describes the tactics and consequences of a deliberate and sustained movement from the 1970s to the present through which an economic elite and free-market ideologs—dubbed Randians after the novelist Ayn Rand—have worked to discredit government. The authors call for electoral reforms and endorse movements such as alt-labor and good government but see overall a difficult path forward. This book chronicles the same arc of prosperity as Robert J. Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth but offers a political rather than technological explanation.
VERDICT Recommended as a well-documented but partisan account for readers interested in the influence of politics on the U.S. economy.

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