Amity Ruth Shlaes is a conservative author and newspaper and magazine columnist. She writes about politics and economics from a classical liberal perspective.
The New York Times suggests the Biden Administration should appoint a "reality czar" to counter disinformation. Have we gone full 1984? We'll talk about it. Plus: Bestselling author Amity Shlaes on why presidents shouldn't use the word "great." And author Jill Eileen Smith examines women of the Old Testament as we discuss her book, "She Walked Before Us." Join us for Thursday's JANET MEFFERD TODAY.
The King of Stuff chats with Amity Shlaes, author of The Great Society, Coolidge, The Forgotten Man, and editor of the new Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge. She serves as chair of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation and talks about his unique inauguration, his executive style, and what Joe Biden could learn from him. Then Jon […]
Historian Amity Shlaes joins us for a new look at the origins and aftermath of LBJ's Great Society – the massive federal poverty-reduction programs of the 1960's. The debates in that era were the same debates today: socialism vs capitalism, public-sector vs private-sector, victimhood vs self-empowerment. And the cost of these programs led to devastating outcomes which are still unfolding to this day. Amity Shlaes’ most recent book is Great Society: A New History. She is the author of four New York Times bestsellers: The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, The Forgotten Man/Graphic, Coolidge, and The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy. Miss Shlaes chairs the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation and the Manhattan Institute's Hayek Book Prize, and serves as a scholar at the King's College. A former member of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, Miss Shlaes published a weekly syndicated column for more than a decade, appearing first in the Financial Times, then in Bloomberg. Follow her on Twitter at @AmityShlaes.
National concern about income inequalities. Race relations at a boiling point. Riots in the streets. Cries on the left for massive allocations of federal money for housing and poverty reduction programs. Social scientists and professional activists touting theories and pet proposals for projects that will supposedly eradicate poverty if only enough money is thrown at them. Tensions between local and state officials and the White House and between bureaucrats and the poor people they claim to be helping. Factionalism roiling the left as new players challenge the Democratic Party establishment. Concerns about the independence of the Federal Reserve. Economic uncertainty and balance of trade issues leading to tensions with our supposed allies. The once iconic General Electric facing public image problems. Big industrial unions like the United Automobile Workers losing clout to unions representing white-collar government workers. The perennial debate about what we now call the universal basic income (UBI). The rise of the expert class—and the backlash against it. St. Louis as the poster child of racial and class tensions. Acrimony between presidential appointees and the president himself. A naïve, self-serving belief among progressives that all we need to do to solve every problem is to hearken back to the New Deal and outdo it by going big, big, big on social spending. Outright cries for socialism in America. Debates on the right and within the GOP about which political path to follow—surrendering to the administrative state or remaining committed to the free market and personal liberty.Sound familiar? But wait—this isn’t 2020. It is the period of roughly 1964-1972 that journalist and historian Amity Shlaes chronicles in her 2019 book, Great Society: A New History (Harper, 2019)Given the unprecedented, gargantuan levels of federal spending we are seeing these days designed to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing debate revolving around the Black Lives Matter movement, Shlaes’ book is exquisitely well-timed. Now is the time to revisit the Great Society era and consider what worked and what ended up destroying poor neighborhoods and the lives of those in them.Shlaes also introduces us to many of the now standard public policy types whose latter-day incarnations we all live with today. There is the influential gadfly author who alerts Americans to this or that social problem (Michael Harrington). The charismatic super-bureaucrat who oversells his federal programs and rides roughshod over those at the local level (Sargent Shriver). The memo-producing social scientist for-hire who loves government more than life itself (Daniel Patrick Moynihan). The young activist who rides the wave of social upheaval only to be sidelined by those more ruthless, effective and radical than he (Tom Hayden). The union leader who revels in conferring with American presidents and cultivating allies on the left even as his industry is being gutted by foreign competitors (Walter Reuther of the United Automobile Workers). We know these types by now and Shlaes reminds us how we got used to such figures.Never was a better time to look back at a key period in the history of big government and to consider how we can avoid replicating the counterproductive policies that helped create the very conditions that are generating the current outcry about income disparities and racial injustice.Give a listen.Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Creator Details

Sep 10th, 1960
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4 hours, 17 minutes
Podchaser Creator ID logo 564252