I agree with Tyler that the U.S. is less dynamic than it once was. But I mainly blame our bad government policies, while he mainly blames our own bad attitudes.
(p. A15) Is the “land of opportunity,” with dynamic labor markets and fresh sources of renewal, a thing of the past?
That’s the fear of Tyler Cowen, who argues in “The Complacent Class” that America is increasingly defined by an aversion to risk as well as to anything that is unfamiliar or different. He sees a broad swath of the American population losing “the capacity to imagine or embrace a world where things do change rapidly for most if not all people.” This mind-set, he says, has “sapped us of the pioneer spirit that made America the world’s most productive and innovative economy.”
. . .
To make his case, Mr. Cowen draws a contrast between the changes that Americans experienced in the first half of the 20th century and the changes of the past 50 years. The earlier period saw dramatic improvements in health and education as well as a proliferation of automobiles, airplanes and telephones. By comparison, the changes since 1965 have been modest. “A lot of our technological world seems to have stood pretty much still,” he writes, “albeit with a variety of quality improvements along the way.” He even notes that, while popular narcotics in the past were mind-altering (LSD) or activity-inciting (cocaine), today’s drugs of choice, such as heroin and opioids, “induce a dreamlike stupor and passivity.”
. . .
Given Mr. Cowen’s own innovative thinking, it’s disappointing that he does not focus more on potential remedies to the torpor he describes.
For the full review, see:
Matthew Rees. “BOOKSHELF; How American Workers Got Lazy.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Feb. 28, 2017): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Feb. 27, 2017.)
The book under review, is:
Cowen, Tyler. The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.