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“A brilliant book. And among the most important I've ever read.”

― J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy

“No one has better articulated the conservative argument for why work matters . . .

― Mitt Romney

“The essential policy book for our time . . . A must-read.”

― Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs

. . . an unflinching indictment of the mistakes that Washington has made for a generation . . .

― Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

. . . welcome common ground for policy debates across partisan and ideological lines . . .

― William A. Galston, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

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The Working Hypothesis:

How the consumerist consensus led America astray, and how to recover

The American Interest, Nov 2018

Latest Coverage

David Brooks: Working-class voters tried to send a message in 2016, and they are still trying to send it. The crucial question is whether America’s leaders will listen and respond. One way to start doing that is to read Oren Cass’s absolutely brilliant new book.

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Oren Cass, has one of the sharpest policy minds in this new vanguard. . . . Cass’s book, timed for publication the week after the midterms, could either be the battle orders for a second Trump term or a to-do list for a successor stamped in the same mold.

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Yuval Levin: Cass’s argument has something in it to make everyone uncomfortable.

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Jason Furman: A thoughtful, provocative, carefully argued book that made me change my mind on some issues that I thought I’d thought about quite a lot, which is about the best a book can do.

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Plainly, our leaders need more fresh thinking like what’s coming from Cass.

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Dani Rodrik: How we balance these [economic] forces with the needs of communities will shape not only our economic fortunes, but also our social and political environment. As Cass and Rajan show, it is a problem that economists should no longer ignore.

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We have been working for decades to convert breadwinner politics into a kind of mass politics, which reconceptualizes the fundamental unit of political economy as the consumer.

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This is a 180-degree turn from the orthodoxy that's ruled economic thinking — especially conservative economic thinking — for decades.

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This is a debate candidates must join during the forthcoming presidential campaign.

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Earning the good life and living the good life are related but distinct concepts.

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Podcasts

November 4, 2018

Why The Labor Market, Not Consumption, Is Central To Economic Prosperity

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October 30, 2018

A New Working Hypothesis

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Upcoming Events

November 13, 2018

New York City

Official Book Launch: The Once and Future Worker

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November 13, 2018

Teleforum

The Once and Future Worker -- In Discussion with Adam White

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November 14, 2018

Washington, DC

Book Talk: The Once and Future Worker

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November 15, 2018

Washington, DC

Throwing Robots Under the Bus: How Blaming Automation Distracts Attention From Real Solutions to Modern Labor Market Woes

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Past Events

November 5, 2018

Williamstown

Book Talk: The Once and Future Worker

More info >>

November 1, 2018

Cambridge

What’s the Next Big Economic Idea? Evaluating UBI, Job Guarantees & Others

Watch >>

October 29, 2018

Washington, DC

Challenges for Employers and Workers: New Books on Work, Skills, and Mobility

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October 24, 2018

Indianapolis

The New American Heartland: A Panel Discussion on Heartland Talent

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October 19, 2018

Minneapolis

Social Consequences of Regional Disparities

Watch >>

About the Book

The American worker is in crisis. Wages have stagnated for more than a generation. Reliance on welfare programs has surged. Life expectancy is falling as substance abuse and obesity rates climb.

These woes are not the inevitable result of irresistible global and technological forces. They are the direct consequence of a decades-long economic consensus that prioritized increasing consumption―regardless of the costs to American workers, their families, and their communities. Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency focused attention on the depth of the nation’s challenges, yet while everyone agrees something must change, the Left’s insistence on still more government spending and the Right’s faith in still more economic growth are recipes for repeating the mistakes of the past.

In this groundbreaking re-evaluation of American society, economics, and public policy, Oren Cass challenges our basic assumptions about what prosperity means and where it comes from to reveal how we lost our way. The good news is that we can still turn things around―if the nation’s proverbial elites are willing to put the American worker’s interests first.

Which is more important, pristine air quality, or well-paying jobs that support families? Unfettered access to the cheapest labor in the world, or renewed investment in the employment of Americans? Smoothing the path through college for the best students, or ensuring that every student acquires the skills to succeed in the modern economy? Cutting taxes, expanding the safety net, or adding money to low-wage paychecks?

The renewal of work in America demands new answers to these questions. If we reinforce their vital role, workers supporting strong families and communities can provide the foundation for a thriving, self-sufficient society that offers opportunity to all.