The Complacent Class: The self-defeating Quest for the American Dream (2017) by Tyler Cowen describes how formerly innovative intellectuals and writers now just use their blogs and media savvy to promote books that aren’t really up to it. Well, not really, it’s actually a continuation of Cowen’s book ‘The Great Stagnation’ which was a really interesting short book about how economic growth had slowed since the boom years of 1945-1975. Cowen, for those who don’t know is a super smart economist who has a great blog and has also recently been doing excellent interviews.
Cowen describes how Americans are moving less, mixing less, being less entrepreneurial and perhaps working less hard than they used to and this is why economic growth isn’t as high as it used to be. The facts that Cowen describes are often fascinating. It’s remarkable to find that California and New York have the most segregated schools in the US due mainly to income segregation. However, the overall thesis is muddled and isn’t really pushed in the end. It seems more like Cowen came up with the title, wrote something and then used his media contacts to push the book.
If the idea of a slowdown in growth is something that interests you and you haven’t read ‘The Great Stagnation’ then that book is very much worth a read. If you have read ‘The Great Stagnation’ this book adds little.