'The Once and Future Worker' by Oren Cass
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this RealClearBooks series, RealClear Book of the Week, we highlight recent nonfiction books from across the political spectrum. This week’s book is Oren Cass’s 'The Once and Future Worker', published last month by Encounter Books.
In 2016, working class voters fired a clear message at America’s establishment about the economic and social catastrophe that has slowly crippled their communities. Washington's elites now grasp that these problems exist but few understand their own complicity in gutting our labor markets and the extent of the damage that has wrought on working class lives.
In 'The Once and Future Worker', the Manhattan Institute's policy wunderkind Oren Cass reveals how decades of bad decision-making in Washington -- and not the supposedly uncontrollable and inevitable forces of technology and globalization -- led to disaster for America's job markets.
Cass served as Mitt Romey's domestic policy advisor in 2012 and while the book has "reform conservatives" buzzing, it will also charm populists on both sides of the aisle. Trumpists will enjoy Cass's critiques of globalization and unfettered immigration while his endorsement of worker co-ops and attacks on America's at-all-costs pursuit of consumption will be applauded by the Sanders wing of the left.
Though wonky, the book offers a thoughtful meditation on the essential value of work itself in providing meaning in American life. More urgently, it reminds us that the decisions being made by elites in Washington have very real consequences in lives of individuals and their communities across the country.
Sam Pretlow is the editor of RealClearBooks.