From the author of Day of Reckoning , the acclaimed critique of Ronald Reagan’s economic policy (“Every citizen should read it,” said The New York Times ): a persuasive, wide-ranging argument that economic growth provides far more than material benefits. In clear-cut prose, Benjamin M. Friedman examines the political and social histories of the large Western democracies–particularly of the United States since the Civil War–to demonstrate the fact that incomes on the rise lead to more open and democratic societies. He explains that growth, rather than simply a high standard of living, is key to effecting political and social liberalization in the third world, and shows that even the wealthiest of nations puts its democratic values at risk when income levels stand still. Merely being rich is no protection against a turn toward rigidity and intolerance when a country’s citizens lose the sense that they are getting ahead.With concrete policy suggestions for pursuing growth at home and promoting worldwide economic expansion, this volume is a major contribution to the ongoing debate about the effects of economic growth and globalization.
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|Title of History eBook: The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth|
|Release Date: 11-03-2010|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth
What Growth Is, What Growth Does
Economic growth has become the secular religion of advancing industrial societies.
—DANIEL BELL The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism
Are we right to care so much about economic growth as we clearly do?
For citizens of all too many of the world's countries, where poverty is still the norm, the answer is immediate and obvious. But the tangible improvements in the basics of life that make economic growth so important whenever living standards are low--greater life expectancy, fewer diseases, less infant mortality and malnutrition--have mostly played out long before a country's per capita income reaches the levels enjoyed in today's advanced industrialized economies. Americans are no healthier than Koreans or Portuguese, for example, and we live no longer, despite an average income more than twice what they have. Yet whether our standard of living will continue to improve, and how fast, remain matters of acute concern for us nonetheless.
At the same time, perhaps because we are never clear about just why we attach so much importance to economic growth in the first place, we are often at cross-purposes--at times we seem to be almost embarrassed--about what we want. We not only acknowledge other values; as a matter of principle we place them on a higher plane than our material well-being. Even in parts of the world where the need to improve nutrition and literacy and human life expectancy is urgent, there is often a grudging aspect to the recognition that achieving superior growth is a top priority. As a result, especially when faster growth would require sacrifice from entrenched constituencies with well-established interests, th...