The Great Unraveling
is a chronicle of how "the heady optimism of the late 1990s gave way to renewed gloom as a result of "incredibly bad leadership, in the private sector and in the corridors of power." Offering his own take on the trickle-down theory, economist and columnist Paul Krugman lays much of the blame for a slew of problems on the Bush administration, which he views as a "revolutionary power...a movement whose leaders do not accept the legitimacy of our current political system." Declaring them radicals masquerading as moderates, he questions their motives on a range of issues, particularly their tax and Social Security plans, which he argues are "obviously, blatantly based on bogus arithmetic." Though a fine writer, Krugman relies more heavily on numbers than words to examine the current rash of corporate malfeasance, the rise and fall of the stock market bubble, the federal budget and the future of Social Security, and how a huge surplus quickly became a record deficit. He also rails against the news media for displaying a disturbing lack of skepticism and for failing to do even the most basic homework when reporting on business and economic issues. The book is mainly a collection of op-ed pieces Krugman wrote for The New York Times
between 2000 and 2003. Overall, this format works well. Krugman writes clearly about complicated issues and offers plenty of evidence and hard facts to support his theories regarding the intersection of business, economics, and politics, making this a detailed, informative, and thought-provoking book. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
This selection of three years of New York Times op-eds by economist and Princeton professor Krugman document his opposition to the governance of George W. Bush and his "bad economics wrapped in the flag." In his introduction, Krugman asserts that Bush is a radical and that America's right wing is "a revolutionary power... a movement whose leaders do not accept the legitimacy of our current political system." The core of the book's 100-plus columns is dedicated to eviscerating Bush's fiscal policies, uncovering the administration's hidden agendas, as well as castigating the media for letting him get away with it. A handful of articles advocate the globalization of free trade. Much of the material will be familiar to Times readers, but reading the items together reveals Krugman's growing anger at the hubris he sees exhibited by the extreme right wing and its seeming defiance of logic. At first, Krugman is a numbers man, methodically parsing the data (demonstrating, for example, how the heartland is not, statistically, more committed to family than people on the coasts), but over time he arrives at the conclusion that "Yes, Virginia, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy" and "it works a lot like a special-interest lobby." Krugman is one of the few commentators able to sound both appalled and reasonable at the same time as he provides an alternate history of the last three years to that penned by conservative pundits. Many readers will find Krugman very persuasive as to how our present government has done us wrong.
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