If you think that Barack Obama has been a terrific president (as I do) and that Hillary Clinton would be an excellent successor (as I also do), then you might want to consider the following books, to help you to understand why so many of your fellow citizens disagree with you
I could pick a nit and say that these books only explain why a few fellow citizens disagree with the left. But they are a good selection of conservative intellectual thought. I give Sunstein a lot of credit for reading them and recommending them.
One of my biggest worries is intellectual and moral arrogance among policy makers. I think that this contributed to such disasters as Vietnam, Syria, and the housing and regulatory policies that contributed to the financial crisis.
I think that left-leaning lawyers can be particularly arrogant, and I worry about who Mrs. Clinton will appoint to the Supreme Court. If she were to appoint Sunstein, I would now be less worried. I was not such a big fan of Sunstein’s before, but the linked essay fulfills the motto of this blog.
So, let me attempt a similar exercise. What are some books that I would recommend to people who tend to agree with me about things in order to open your minds to other reasonable points of view?
1. In the area of education, I am a proponent of the Null Hypothesis (interventions do not make reliable, replicable, long-term differences). Two books that make a good case otherwise are Goldin and Katz, The Race Between Education and Technology and Elizabeth Green, Building a Better Teacher.
2. People who tend to agree with me on things often like the model of humans as rationally pursuing their interests. Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow is a must-read for understanding the contrary point of view. You are bound to object to parts of it, but there is much valuable insight in this book.
3. People who tend to agree with me on things often like to emphasize what incentives can explain. However, Joseph Henrich’s The Secret of Our Success is a good reminder that there are other social norms in the background that are important. Another book on the importance of culture is Peter Turchin’s War, Peace, and War.
4. As you know, I am no fan of Keynesian economics or of macroeconomics in general. But I can recommend L. Randall Wray’s Why Minsky Matters and George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, Animal Spirits (although I detested their subsequent book). Scott Sumner’s history of the Great Depression, The Midas Paradox [link fixed], is a tour de force.
5. In Our Kids, Robert Putnam coined the phrase “bifurcated family patterns.” Isabel Sawhill’s Generation Unbound looks at the same phenomenon. Both authors are left of center, so many of you will not find their books congenial, but you can still appreciate the data and the observations.