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Capsule Review

The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It

In This Review

The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do about It
The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do about It
By Timothy Noah
Bloomsbury Press, 2013, 288 pp. $16.00 Purchase

Noah writes from what might be called a neoprogressive standpoint. Like the original progressives, he seeks to blend an emotional and moral commitment to the causes of the left with the intellectual rigor of the best available economic and social science research. As in the case of the original progressives, the result is a powerful, if sometimes flawed, perspective that is likely to influence the course of American debates on issues of economic policy and justice. Noah’s central contention is that government policy can and should do more to reverse the trend toward greater income inequality that has developed in the United States since 1979. Some of his policy prescriptions, such as substituting carbon taxes and value-added taxes for the deeply regressive payroll tax, could win bipartisan support; others would have to await much larger Democratic majorities than currently exist in Congress. Still, although the analysis in this relatively short and very accessible book is necessarily incomplete, and some of its contentions are more powerfully stated than convincingly argued, The Great Divergence is an excellent guide to the emerging center-left economic policy consensus likely to inform Democratic Party thinking and policymaking for some time to come. 

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