The Complacent Class: The Self-defeating Quest For The American Dream - Paperback

The Complacent Class: The Self-defeating Quest For The American Dream

Cowen, Tyler

A wide-ranging, against-the-grain argument about the state of American culture—the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal bestseller, now in paperback!
America once prided itself on a popular myth of progress; restlessness was accepted as a signature American trait. Our willingness to move, take risks, and adapt to change has produced a dynamic economy and a tradition of innovation from Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs.

The problem, according to legendary blogger, economist and bestselling author Tyler Cowen, is that Americans today have broken from this tradition?we’re working harder than ever to avoid change; we’re seeking more security and more safety. We're moving residences less, making our children play inside more, and choosing our music and our mates based on algorithms that wall us off from anything that might be too new or too different. While this might feel rational and be good for us individually, it spells trouble for us collectively. According to Cowen, there are significant collateral downsides attending this comfort, among them heightened inequality and segregation and decreased incentives to innovate and create.

The Complacent Class argues that this cannot go on forever. We are postponing change, due to our near-sightedness and extreme desire for comfort, but ultimately this will make change, when it comes, harder. The forces unleashed by the Great Stagnation will eventually lead to a major fiscal and budgetary crisis: impossibly expensive rentals for our most attractive cities, worsening of residential segregation, and a decline in our work ethic. The only way to avoid this difficult future is for Americans to force themselves out of their comfortable slumber?to embrace their restless tradition again.

• With a New Afterword