Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

November 2, 2007

The Conscience of a Liberal

Filed under: books, politics — Tags: — codesmithy @ 8:12 am

I just finished reading “The Conscience of a Liberal” by Paul Krugman. The title is a little bit misleading because it I came in half-expecting a high-minded work like Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom,” a lot of rhetoric and precious little substance. I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case. So, a better title might be “The Case for Liberalism and How to Get There from Here.” The book is really about re-establishing the shared prosperity of the 1950’s and 60’s and overcoming the obstacles in the way.

Krugman gives a fair history of 20th century, although he tends to focus more on economic factors and realities. What is clear is that the United States has re-entered an economic situation similar to the one in the 1920’s.

Krugman underscores some of the political realities pursuing a progressive agenda will face and what he feels what needs to be the modern centerpiece of the movement: universal health care. The simplest solution for universal health care is “Medicare for All.” Dennis Kucinich has already co-authored the legislation and it now sits as H.R. 676. I think it is fair to say that H.R. 676 has the same chance of passing as Kucinich has of becoming president. Nevertheless, Krugman offers a more convoluted proposal that attempts to achieve the same ends, but will face less opposition from various groups. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t face opposition. In fact, Krugman admits there will be some groups that are simply unappeasable. Given that business leaders tried to stage a coup against F.D.R. when he started implementing New Deal policies, it should give one an idea of the political environment that we might experience in an attempt to complete it.

Krugman believes that demonstrably good, progressive governance will form a modern equivalent of “New Deal Coalition” which fell apart when the South started voting Republican in the 70’s. Although, Krugman points to reasons why liberals should be optimistic about the future, re-establishing a shared prosperity is by no means inevitable. It will take work, organization, sacrifice and most importantly, a conviction that what progressives are doing is right. Thankfully, facts and reality seem firmly in favor of the progressive side which is an asset that should be used to its maximum advantage.


  1. […] to ask himself a question, which he happens to have a very good answer for.   I’ve already written about H.R. 676 in reviewing Paul Krugman’s “Conscience of a Liberal.”  Krugman […]

    Pingback by Kucinich at the Brown and Black Forum « Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind — December 5, 2007 @ 9:17 am

  2. […] a good talk about the current credit crisis, although it was supposed to be about his book “The Conscience of a Liberal” which I’ve already read and reviewed.  He apparently gave this at Google.  The New […]

    Pingback by Authors@Google: Paul Krugman « Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind — December 22, 2007 @ 2:55 pm

  3. “Liberal: a power worshipper without power

    Comment by acs — January 2, 2008 @ 7:26 pm

  4. “Liberal: a power worshipper without power” – George Orwell

    Not his best quote in my humble opinion, although it goes a way to explaining why MSNBC considers Chris Matthews a liberal. So maybe he was on to something.

    Comment by codesmithy — January 3, 2008 @ 6:57 am

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