We've all heard that the American Dream is vanishing, and that the cause is rising income inequality. The rich are getting richer by rigging the system in their favor, leaving the rest of us to struggle just to keep our heads above water. To save the American Dream, we're told that we need to fight inequality through tax hikes, wealth redistribution schemes, and a far higher minimum wage.
But what if that narrative is wrong? What if the real threat to the American Dream isn't rising income inequality - but an all-out war on success?
In this timely and thought-provoking work, Don Watkins and Yaron Brook reveal that almost everything we've been taught about inequality is wrong. You'll discover:
The critics of inequality are right about one thing: The American Dream is under attack. But instead of fighting to make America a place where anyone can achieve success, they are fighting to tear down those who already have. The real key to making America a freer, fairer, more prosperous nation is to protect and celebrate the pursuit of success - not pull down the high fliers in the name of equality.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2016 Don Watkins and Yaron Brook (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
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"While I agree with most of this book,..."
...it is a rather shallow treatment of the economic philosophy it espouses. It has too much of pseudo-philosopher Ayn Rand and too little of far better theorists, free market economists, and political philosophers such as Fredrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Jean-Baptiste Say, Walter Williams, Milton Friedman, or Thomas Sowell. For those who want a sound understanding without excessive theory,I recommend any of several books by Thomas Sowell who is the greatest living economist and political philosopher. Audible has approximately 25 of his books. The best place to start is Sowell's Economic Facts and Fallacies followed by Wealth, Power, and Politics and then A Conflict of Visions followed by Applied Economics and finally Dismantling America. Of course Hayek's The Road to Serfdom is mandatory.
The primary title of this book Equal is Unfair without the subtitle America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality is too clever by half. The basic point that we should have equality of opportunity rather than striving for equality of economic outcome is valid because achieving equality of economic outcome always leads to universal poverty. Where Ayn Rand and her two followers who wrote this book go wrong is by claiming government has no appropriate role in economic matters. They are dead wrong: the role of government is to establish the rules and apply them equally, without favor.
In my opening comment above I wrote that the approach of the authors of this book is rather shallow in their treatment of economic and political philosophy. I stand by that, but I will add that listening to this book is better than nothing. Fredrich Hayek and Ayn Rand were contemporaries. Hayek's classical political and economic liberalism makes a lot more sense than Rand's unworkable Objectivism which is a form of anarchy. Rand was a great novelist, but fails as a political philosopher. It is to the credit of the authors, both of whom work at the Ayn Rand Institute that they do not go all in with Objectivism.
If one purchases this audio book be certain to download the PDF file of charts/graphs some of which are excellent especially at demonstrating that real income has increased during the last 30 to 40 years. Jeff Cummings does a superb job of narration.
If you expect this book to explain why equality is unfair you will probably be disappointed. The central theme seems to be "we are all better off than we were before so inequality doesn't matter, and may even be a myth". The authors jumble and cherry pick a bunch of facts and statistics to make their case. For example they blame the unions for the American car industry's decline in the 1970's, but chose to ignore the fact that the manufacturers failed to understand what consumers wanted and produce cars accordingly.
In fairness, the book description made it clear that the views expressed would be biased. I had hoped, however it would get beyond the level of propaganda, and provide some good ideas for thought - even if I disagreed with them.
Although I agree with the premise of the book and there is a lot of good content, I found the book average overall because it contained too much commentary, and hypothetical and rhetorical questions for every solid fact it presented.
This is all presentation of old arguments. There is no new research or new spins on previous theory. Read Sowell instead.
"Interesting but not completely convincing."
The arguments are impassioned and persuasive, but not entirely convincing. The crucial weak point is the lack of a strong refutation of the idea that people don't deserve the rewards of success because they aren't responsible for their genes, parents, environment, etc.
"A Passionate and Scholarly work"
I would say they are equal. Jeff Cummings does a fantastic job in his narration.
The comparisons to American ideals and founding principles.
This book turned out to be so much more than just the issue of "income inequality'. 'Equal is Unfair' goes after all of the major tenets of modern Leftism. Don Wakins and Dr. Yaron Brook raze modern leftism to the ground, leave no stone unturned, and salt the earth afterwards. The book takes down:
The inequality myth.
The Scandinavian socialism myth.
The myth that the successful are 'exploiters'
The economic pie myth.
Leftwing economist Piketty's statistical manipulations.
The "You didn't build that" rhetoric from those like Warren and Obama.
The left's Success=Luck argument.
FDR and LBJ's Great Society programs.
"Social Justice" advocates.
The inculcation of victimhood by the left in poor ghettos.
And much much more....
Watkins and Dr. Brook attack every leftwing issue on multiple fronts. They prove their case empirically by taking down the statistical manipulations of the left. They prove their case by showing the logical progression of what these ideas entail. They prove their case morally, by showing what these ideas mean to individual human beings and life on this earth, and finally they prove their case by offering a solid alternative.
"Primer on Political and Economic liberty"
This is a fantastic primer on the necessity of both political and economic liberty. The authors take on the question of whether income inequality is bad, examine the origins of inequality, and demonstrate why prosperity, not inequality, is what matters.
I would rate this as one of the best three libertarian books by modern writers, on par with David Boaz's Libertarian Primer and Matt Kibbe's Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff.
I highly recommend it.
"Compelling, but incomplete"
This book makes a compelling argument for leaving the free market own devices. however, our society-as it exists today-is repeat with influences that are the result of injustices in the past. The book makes no attempt to tackle the question of whether intervention is needed now to correct the imbalances produced by those injustices.
In my own country, South Africa, the system of Apartheid denied the majority of our citizens the rights and opportunities that the minority benefited from. The legacy of that denial of opportunity is one which cannot fairly be corrected by simply dismantling the welfare state.
"Great book in a time when it is needed"
The book is great. Got the audible version. The message in the book needs to get out to more people. Great insight into evaluating stats that are peddled through the mainstream media.
A must read for any person honestly inquiring about inequality in America, This book makes sense of the issues, and offers the implications for the future. Covered are Egalitarianism, Individualism, and the differences between inequality of outcome and inequality of rights. If you want to be at the forefront of the debate, this book is the perfect choice.
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