The Complacent Class: review

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Will Lestrange
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The Complacent Class: review

Postby Will Lestrange » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:19 am

Title of the book: The Complacent Class
Author: Tyler Cowen
Series: N/A
Genre: economics, nonfiction
Short summary of the story: Tyler Cowen, a popular economist at George Mason University in Northern Virginia, writes about how Americans have become "complacent" over the past 40 or 50 years. Compared to past times, people in the US are less likely to move to a different part of the country, switch careers, or live in places where people are "different" from them (in terms of race, culture, or socioeconomic status). Cowen believes that this is causing the American Dream to decay (with the possible exception of recent immigrants), but that this is not sustainable. His prediction is that a major event (such as the recent presidential election) or some other sequence of shocks will jolt Americans into recapturing their old ambition and drive.

Good points / bad points: Cowen lives only one county over than me and does a good job of explaining what I see in my day to day life: neighborhoods and workplaces do seem to be a bit more homogeneous than they were before (and his view on the Internet is interesting: while it allows people to be more connected, these connections may not have any ramifications in the physical world).

As a Slytherin, Cowen's view of the complacent class and the decline of ambition underscores the fact that there are two prominent types of successful members in my house:
-the old money Slytherins (such as the Malfoys) who seek to preserve the old order and view change and diversity as bad things ("said Slytherin, we'll teach just those whose ancestry is purest")
-the ambitious Slytherins (to be honest, the most concrete canon example is Lord Voldemort, though one could tap Horace Slughorn here as well) who welcome change and diversity, as long as they are on the leading edge of it ("and power-hungry Slytherins loved those of great ambition").

There are definitely parallels here: while Cowen believes ambition is an integral part of the American Dream, I believe that the second category of Slytherins I mentioned is truer to Salazar's vision for Slytherins as a whole (and personally, I feel empty when I'm not moving forward).

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