A Perilous Progress: Economists and Public Purpose in by Michael A. Bernstein

By Michael A. Bernstein

The economics occupation in twentieth-century the US begun as a humble quest to appreciate the "wealth of nations." It grew right into a occupation of big public prestige--and now suffers a unusually withered public function. Michael Bernstein portrays a career that has ended up repudiating the nation that nurtured it, ignoring distributive justice, and disproportionately privileging deepest wants within the research of monetary lifestyles. highbrow introversion has robbed it, he contends, of the very public impression it coveted and cultivated for therefore lengthy. With wit and irony he examines how a neighborhood of specialists now pointed out with uncritical get together of ''free market'' virtues used to be itself formed, dramatically so, through govt and collective action.

In arresting and provocative aspect Bernstein describes economists' fitful efforts to sway a nation gear the place values and ambitions may well seldom stay cut loose potential and procedure, and the way their vocation was once eventually humbled by means of govt itself. Replete with novel examine findings, his paintings additionally analyzes the ancient peculiarities that led the occupation to a key function within the modern backlash opposed to federal tasks relationship from the Thirties to reform the nation's fiscal and social life.

Interestingly sufficient, students have principally neglected the historical past that has formed this career. An economist through education, Bernstein brings a historian's sensibilities to his narrative, using broad archival learn to bare unstated presumptions that, in the course of the corporation of economists themselves, have come to mildew and outline, and occasionally truly deform, public discourse.

This publication bargains vital, even troubling insights to readers drawn to the fashionable fiscal and political heritage of the USA and puzzled by means of contemporary developments in public coverage debate. It additionally enhances a turning out to be literature at the historical past of the social sciences. guaranteed to have an enduring impression on its box, A Perilous Progress represents a rare contribution of gritty empirical learn and conceptual boldness, of grand narrative breadth and profound analytical depth.

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Extra resources for A Perilous Progress: Economists and Public Purpose in Twentieth-Century America

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His frustration, in this regard, was actually the result of two tendencies that, when taken together, conspired to keep the net growth of Association membership at relatively low levels. For graduate students and junior faculty, Association dues were not trivial, and it appears that many of this younger generation found the “price of admission” literally too high. Professor H. J. Davenport of the University of Missouri had warned Young of this mundane yet telling fact some six months earlier.

47 ————— Standing accused of partisanship or worse, the leadership of most professional societies, rather than self-consciously addressing questions of privilege, bias, and unexamined assumptions, would instead extol and pursue the observance of an ideal neutrality. In this regard, the AEA secretariat was no exception. But in the practice the Association’s leaders only served to make more pointed the contradic- 32 CHAPTER ONE tion between the goal of objectivity and the desire for influence and authority.

Davenport of the University of Missouri had warned Young of this mundane yet telling fact some six months earlier. ” Even some older members found AEA dues a burden. “I know of no one not already a member,” a history teacher at Mechanic Arts High School in Boston told Young, “who is interested [in AEA membership] to the extent of $5 a year. ”14 Beyond the difficulty of persuading newcomers to join, Young and his colleagues in the AEA secretariat had the additional challenge of convincing current members to stay on.

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