George Will covers *The Complacent Class*

Here is one paragraph:

Although America is said to be — and many Americans are — seething about economic grievances, Tyler Cowen thinks a bigger problem is complacency. In his latest book, “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream,” Cowen, professor of almost everything (economics, law, literature) at George Mason University and co-author of the Marginal Revolution blog, argues that the complacent class, although a minority, is skillful at entrenching itself in ways detrimental to the majority.

Here is the whole review.


But is Will complacent?

Or would that be complicit?

Will is a NeoCon

He likes big activist government, but is constantly bewildered as to why it so frequently screws up

He sees the dots but can't connect them

I don't think you know who George Will is.

As for activist government, Trump and the crowd that elected him strongly believes in it. Only the people who call themselves "conservative" don't, but their constituency has shrunk quite drastically.

Will is a NeoCon

The real George Will is a Burkean turned libertarian. He had no notable association with the nexus of publications and letterhead organizations which were once termed 'neo-conservative'.

And, of course, it's been a nonsense term for 25 years. Wm. Kristol is a bog standard Republican bar that he was never a Jaycee. Palaeos and alt-right types have a fanciful history of opinion journalism and organizational politics which holds that 'true conservatism' was hijacked by a bunch of Jews ca. 1982 and took to using 'neocon' before they took to using the ((())) brackets.

yes, political labels are often misused and confusing... but no way is George Will a libertarian -- Murray Rothbard considered him a statist at the core. Will has indeed bad-mouthed neocons periodically but embraces their FDR-managerial-state and robust foreign interventions.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Bennett, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, and David Brooks are all neoconservatives like George Will... with various minor differences.

Sounds like to you everyone right of center who's not a libertarian is a neocon. Makes the term kind of pointless, which is Art's point.

Murray Rothbard considered him a statist at the core.

So what? Rothbard also said Soviet Russia was to be preferred to the United States because Lavernty Beria was executed and J. Edgar Hoover hadn't been. A prudent man would not adduce Rothbard's opinion on any subject.

You're not actually a professor of literature (or law?) are you? Why let that slide? It seems a bit odd to me.

But he could be in the eyes of Will's readers, and really, who would pass up the opportunity to get credit for teaching a couple of classes at GMU's law and econ program?

And it isn't as if anyone in the GMU English department (most definitely in the past) wants to be associated with any member of the GMU econ faculty..

The most entrenched elements are law (especially the judiciary), academe, the school apparat (and affiliated unions), and the Capitol Hill nexus. The most egregious are boardroom looters. What's Mercatus doing about it?

Those entrenched elements all stem from oppressive government. What is your suggested solution to oppressive American governmental institutions?

They don't stem from 'oppressive government' although their position has legal buttresses you could remove.

Now, Cowen hit it big. Mr. Will is very popular in Brazil.

Complacency has as many meanings as there are people who have an ax to grind. As I have pointed out in a number of comments, people aren't complacent: they are afraid. Afraid of losing or being unable to find a good job. Afraid of religious zealots blowing up the mall. Afraid of another (likely) financial and economic crisis. Afraid of extreme weather events destroying their communities. Afraid of an unstable president blowing the whole thing up. Or more succinctly, afraid of change. The title to Cowen's book made sense if, as expected, Ms. Clinton had been elected president. But she wasn't; instead, we have a mentally unstable con man as our president. Who could be complacent under the circumstances! People are anything but complacent: they are afraid. And long for the sameness that was stability. Stability. Economists don't like stability: they like "dynamism". But economists aren't real people addressing real problems: they are theorists, or, worse, partisans or ideologues, with an ax to grind.

So Trump is your primary fear. He's merely the latest in a very long line of "unstable con men" in American government

Life goes on , complacent or not -- nobody will care in a 100 years

Economists don't solve problems, they merely chatter about them

This dope is afraid of Trump because, like so many snowflakes, he had been guaranteed that his tribe would never, ever lose an election. He's in brand new, unheard-of territory. Coddle him.

Then again, he's also afraid that the weather will Destroy His Community, so he's probably a lost cause. I hope he's got a deep bunker!

I think the snow is on the other flake, as it were.

You're an idiot

Every day since 11/8 feels like the first day of spring - full of the promise of delights.

On the top of my list is watching the fall of the entitled elites. So delicious! Still in denial, they keep the show going! I hope it never stops!

They were entitled to win that election! They are the best and the brightest! Oh how the mighty have fallen, and they have fallen, and it's a long way to the bottom. Enjoy the show!

I didn't rank the things that cause fear. For me, hurricanes top the list during this time of the year. As for Trump, the election merely confirmed what many have observed about America: we are a nation of con men (and women) and fantasists, an unholy combination. Trump is a reflection of us! Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. But those who knew what they were doing are not forgiven. And that would include the ideologues who supported Trump not in spite of being a con man (and liar) but because of it. And who might that be?

Come on, in modern day America the greatest fear is roaming gangs of predatory armed brown thugs. Thankfully there are uniformed and secret police protecting the cul-de-sacs from these animals.

"And that would include the ideologues who supported Trump not in spite of being a con man (and liar) but because of it. "

How does that work exactly? An ideologue is a dogmatic supporter of a certain belief system. A con man is deceptive about his intentions. So why would an ideologue support someone "because" they're a conman?

Independent of one's views of Trump, he's largely followed through on his campaign promises. And surely he's sincere to a fault on Twitter. He's the least "messaged" politician in decades.

"sincere to a fault"


Speaking for myself (just as you are merely speaking for yourself), I'm not "afraid" and neither do the people I interact with seem to be "afraid"...or complacent for that matter. More likely, you, and Professor Cowen, are just makin' stuff up.

Have any economists aside from Arnold Kling reviewed "The Complacent Class"?

This guy from AEI? Sort of? -

But in reality, not that many people care that much about a book that was clearly intended to appear at the start of Hillary Clinton's presidency.

Does the book actually have anything to do with economics?

For example, one thing changed in the 70s/80s inflection was eliminating the wasteful harmful tax deductions that promoted big businesses moving employees from State to State.

Thus the lower rate of Interstate migration is means workers are no longer complacently having big corporations tell them where to work and live.

After the 80s, workers moved more often because they were NOT complacent. Before they moved because they complacently did what they were told.


Where is the economics?


Quite an honor.

I do not see the Great Flinch and complacency as antithetical. The scowling primitives/vulgarians are more educated and have a greater awareness of inequities. The ruling class is content with the status quo. Any student of history should have seen the inevitability of a clash. So as resources become scarce we revert to our animal selves. Some hoard, some raid, and some acquiesce.

" So as resources become scarce we revert to our animal selves."

This is particularly true on the highways where each precious moment is a resource being denied by a driver ahead going only 69 mph in the left lane. "Animal behavior" becomes quickly evident on such occasions. Parking spaces are another resource so important that draconian legal restrictions are necessary to reserve choice spots for the crippled and lame. First world problems.

We get it. You're emotionally neuralgic and have trouble handling everyday life. You really cannot expect commercial businesses or public agencies to tailor their operations to accommodate a small minority held together with psychotropics.

You obviously don't drive the freeways we do. On a 60 mile drive up through LA I typically see 3 to 5 cars slaloming the slow lanes, yesterday one doing it at traffic speed + 20, shooting the gap between a car and a truck. On that same drive there were two severe rear-end collisions pulled to the side of the road. Not unrelated.

You obviously don’t drive the freeways we do.

I have the sense to stay out of LA, as do the 308 million Americans who do not live there. DC commuting I'm familiar with. It requires patience, as does adult life generally.

You missed his bit of insanity that people are to be deemed predatory because they park in spots proximate to commercial buildings when such spots aren't set aside.

We need to re-model what Georg Will is, and build this kind of un-educability into the new model.

The complaint about staying with a company for long periods of time is going to fall on deaf ears for young people. Outside of a union, one of the only ways to get a raise is finding a position with a new company.

It is probably very boring for Tyler to hear from people who think "complacency" is the wrong word. Obviously he chose it for more reasons than it being exactly right. It was unused. It was a territory that could be claimed. It was contrarian. It reinforced the brand.

But really those other reasons emphasize why it works more as counterpoint than explanation. The big broad causes of American discontent are well covered.

We have economic dislocation from automation and trade. We have a clash of world cultures very unfortunately centered on the oil rich lands upon which we depend. We have a rising anti-intellectualism oddly supported and promoted by an information society and social media. We might have just had (we might still be in) a cyberwar.

This is a time of tremendous change. As a counterpoint, sure, some are complacent. Certainly pundit who stays in their lane and writes think pieces for a counterfactual better world is being complacent.

'It was a territory that could be claimed. '

During Hillary Clinton's presidency, that is. With Trump as president, the term is laughably ludicrous.

It works if you realize the complacent class isn't everyone, it's the coastal elites who were very complacently assuming Clinton would win.

That complacency was how Trump happened.

She won the coasts. She lost in the middle.

Exactly, the complacent coastals just knew she'd win, everyone they know voted for her

"Interstate migration — a risk-taking investment in a hoped-for future — has been declining since the mid-1980s."

Why did the Reagan revolution block Interstate migration?

Or discourage Interstate migration?

Why the harmful business tax deductions for moving employees Interstate were diminished or eliminated in the 80s to promote more Interstate migration, so why didn't individual taxpayers respond to incentives and move more frequently?

In corporate America before the 80s, IBM had the dual meaning, for many I've Been Moved. I was moved by my employer 6 times in the 70s, ie, they paid my moving expenses. While I worked at multiple locations requiring long commutes in the 80s and 90s, no offer of payment to move was made.

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