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Wake Up Already, America’s ‘Complacent Class’45:36

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Economist Tyler Cowen says Americans have become risk-averse, and it’s going to cost us. He’s calling out American complacency.

Workers exchange spools of thread as a robot picks up thread made from recycled plastic bottles at the Repreve Bottle Processing Center, part of the Unifi textile company in Yadkinville, N.C. (Chuck Burton/AP)
Workers exchange spools of thread as a robot picks up thread made from recycled plastic bottles at the Repreve Bottle Processing Center, part of the Unifi textile company in Yadkinville, N.C. (Chuck Burton/AP)

Economist Tyler Cowen is very worried about the USA. Americans, he says, have lost their spunk, their nerve, their risk-taking attitude toward the world. A nation of onetime pioneers and explorers has settled in, hunkered down, become risk-averse and self-protective. Become, he says, complacent. We don’t need to go back, he says. We need to go forward. And we’re not. This hour On Point, Tyler Cowen says get going America, while there’s still time. — Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Tyler Cowen, economist and author. Professor of economics and director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Author of the new book, "The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream." Also author of "Average is Over" and "The Great Stagnation." (@tylercowen)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: How American Workers Got Lazy — "The Census Bureau made a startling disclosure in November: During a recent 12-month period, the percentage of Americans who moved from one dwelling to another was at its lowest point since 1948, when such data began to be collected. While the reasons for depressed mobility are varied, it may be emblematic of a broader lethargy that’s set in across the country. Is the 'land of opportunity,' with dynamic labor markets and fresh sources of renewal, a thing of the past?"

Washington Post: Upper class elites might hate Trump, but they were key to his success -- "Cowen argues that the educated urban elite, who are well equipped to compete in today’s economy, have become increasingly isolated from other parts of the country — and so don’t see the urgency with which the country needs reform to help those left behind. While people on the top have little motivation to change, he believes they may be forced to, as others grow increasingly disgruntled."

Quartz: A top economist says Americans are not nearly as ambitious or innovative as they think — "Americans often point to our role as the world’s leading innovator. There are plenty of realms in which this is true, whether we look at lists of top universities, most important pharmaceuticals, or leading tech companies. And yet despite this leadership in innovation, if you compare America today to its past, the country seems to have lost its mojo."

Read An Excerpt Of "The Complacent Class" By Tyler Cowen

This program aired on March 2, 2017.

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