We Are Better Than This Book Summary - We Are Better Than This Book explained in key points
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We Are Better Than This summary

Edward D. Kleinbard

How Government Should Spend Our Money

(5 ratings)
15 mins
8 key ideas
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What is We Are Better Than This about?

We Are Better Than This (2014) is an in-depth guide to the fiscal policy of the United States, the effect it has on the country’s citizens and the potential changes that would allow all Americans to live better lives. These blinks are chock full of interesting data about the United States’ economy, its social policies and the obstacles it will face in the future.

About the Author

Edward D. Kleinbard, an expert on taxation and political economy, is currently the Johnson Professor of Law and Business at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. Before assuming his current role, he served as the Chief of Staff to the US Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. He is a frequent contributor of opinion pieces to various major news outlets.

Table of Contents

    We Are Better Than This
    summarized in 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    For people to be happy, society requires basic welfare.

    What’s your first thought when you hear the word “welfare”? If you’re like most people, you probably think of government handouts to retirees, the unemployed and poor people who don’t usually deserve them. But however commonly held these beliefs are, they simple aren’t true.

    The reason so many people have these incorrect associations is because welfare has been misunderstood. Welfare means investment in education, infrastructure and public goods – things that are essential to the functioning of any society.

    Welfare also gives everyone an equal chance at happiness, but it can do so in different ways. For instance, government insurances, also known as entitlements, like Medicare, Medicaid and social security, are safety nets that protect citizens and enable them to take risks. This could mean starting a business or beginning a new career, decision that can in turn become highly profitable for society at large.

    Another service welfare provides is education, which constitutes a fantastic way to promote the happiness of everyone in society by increasing economic mobility and production. Just imagine, would the tech mecca Silicon Valley exist without a strong education system?

    So welfare provides us with services and amenities that we all benefit from – but can’t we live happy lives without it? The answer is, not if you’re poor. Because being poor puts the pursuit of happiness out of reach, and when people don’t live well, society bears the costs.

    For instance, in 2011, the Center for American Progress calculated the cost of hunger in America and found that the country lost $167.5 billion dollars to decreased productivity, more expensive health care and poor results in the education system.

    But on an individual level, being poor also takes options off the table and makes survival one’s only priority. What’s more, poverty can actually affect how the brain works: the Save the Children Fund conducted a study that found that malnourishment during the first thousand days of a person’s life leads to irreversible cognitive impairment.

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    Best quote from We Are Better Than This

    Governments are valued only in proportion as they tend to promote the happiness of those who live under them. - Adam Smith

    —Edward D. Kleinbard
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    Who should read We Are Better Than This

    • American citizens who want a deeper understanding of US taxation and spending
    • People interested in political science, economics and fiscal policy

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