A comprehensive center-left political platform that addresses the worsening problem of economic inequality.
Inequality is perennially a hot topic, but debates about it reached a fever pitch during the recent election season. Debut author and economist Anthony argues that inequality could potentially lead to electoral gains for a center-left political coalition, but a steady loss of constituent support has resulted instead. In this book, the author articulates a remarkably comprehensive program that includes a series of economic remedies and a campaign strategy. He begins with a brief synopsis of modern economic theory, featuring paragraph-length summaries of the work of such economic thinkers as Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. Then he explains the sources of inequality, noting that the Ronald Reagan/Margaret Thatcher revolution ushered in lowered tax rates, diminished welfare spending, resulted in wide-scale deregulation and privatization, and unleashed the forces of globalization. His recommendations are ambitiously thorough, covering everything from fiscal policy to food distribution. Problematically, this comprehensiveness results in a lack of rigorously considered detail; as the title suggests, this is a manifesto, not an academic white paper. Anthony could have cut a section that breezily covers philosophical arguments against inequality, which is both gratuitous and too intellectually slight to convince detractors. Also, the book acknowledges but insufficiently discusses some central economic problems; for instance, Anthony concedes that the concept of a living wage is vague, but he also recommends its institution without providing much guidance on the proper amount. Finally, some proposals are too controversial for just a few sentences of clarification; for example, the author suggests that media proprietors could be “directly targeted” and essentially threatened for more favorable coverage, and the efficacy, as well as the legitimacy, of such an aggressive approach is far from obvious. Still, this is an admirably nonpartisan account of the problem of inequality, especially given that its entire economic program is couched in a political platform. It should be edifying not only for readers who share Anthony’s politics, but also for those who are reflexively opposed to them.
An impressively sober and fair-minded analysis.