The Good Life and Its Discontents: The American Dream in the Age of Entitlement (Google eBook)
A New York Times Business Book Bestseller
"Shrewd and optimistic. . . . [The Good Life and Its Discontents] combines first-rate analysis with persuasive historical, political and sociological insights."
--The New Republic
Today Americans are wealthier, healthier, and live longer than at any previous time in our history. As a society, we have never had it so good. Yet, paradoxically, many of us have never felt so bad. For, as Robert J. Samuelson observes in this visionary book, our country suffers from a national sense of entitlement--a feeling that someone, whether Big Business or Big Government, should guarantee us secure jobs, rising living standards, social harmony, and personal fulfillment.
In The Good Life and Its Discontents, Samuelson, a national columnist for Newsweek and the Washington Post, links our rising expectations with our belief in a post-Cold War vision of an American utopia. Using history, economics, and psychology, he exposes the hubris of economists and corporate managers and indicts a government that promises too much to too many constituencies. Like David Reisman's The Lonely Crowd and John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society, the result is a book that defines its time--and that is sure to shape the national debate for years to come.
"A smart, balanced epitaph for an era--with a few clues for what's ahead."
"Lucid [and] nonsectarian . . . Samuelson traces how the reasonable demand for progress has given way to the excessive demand for perfection."
--The New York Times
From the Trade Paperback edition.
What people are saying - Write a review
The good life and its discontents: the American dream in the age of entitlement, 1945-1995User Review - Book Verdict
Columnist and economics commentator Samuelson (The Numbskull Factor, Times, 1993) asks why "a society that satisfies us most of the time has also convinced many of us that it's rolling inexorably toward the edge of a cliff." The reason for this "paradox," Samuelson argues, can be tied to the effect of "entitlements" on our lives; we believe we are guaranteed many things--healthcare, secure jobs, and safe living places--but the social and political realities of our lives contradict this. In determining what has turned the American Dream into a "fantasy," Samuelson refers to post-1929 American history, public opinion polls, economic theory and data, the beliefs of our Founding Fathers, corporate structure, and sociological research. He also discusses how civil rights and equality have become confused with each other and how American political leaders have created a huge budget deficit by separating costs from benefits. This is an unusually clear, cogently argued exploration of American values and the political institutions that have strayed from them. Essential for most libraries.--Jack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego
Review: The Good Life and Its Discontents: The American Dream in the Age of EntitlementUser Review - Mark Tatge - Goodreads
Excellent book that looks at why Americans feel entitled to so much even after having achieved one of the highest living standards in the world. Read full review
Untruth: Why the Conventional Wisdom Is (Almost Always) Wrong
Robert J. Samuelson
Limited preview - 2001
10Borrow and Spend
14Responsibility Not Entitlement
15Crisis or Consensus?
5The Apostles of Control
7The Myth of Management
8The Real Economy
IIIThe Politics of Overpromise
Afterword to the Vintage Edition
Public OpinionPrivate Optimism Public Pessimism
Income and Living Standards