The Inclusive Economy

How to Bring Wealth to America's Poor

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The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor energetically challenges the conventional wisdom of both the right and the left that underlies much of the contemporary debate over poverty and welfare policy. Author and national public policy expert Michael Tanner takes to task conservative critiques of a “culture of poverty” for their failure to account for the structural circumstances in which the poor live. In addition, he criticizes liberal calls for fighting poverty primarily through greater redistribution of wealth and new government programs.

Rather than engaging in yet another debate over which government programs should be increased or decreased by billions of dollars, Tanner calls for an end to policies that have continued to push people into poverty. Combining social justice with limited government, his plan includes reforming the criminal justice system and curtailing the War on Drugs, bringing down the cost of housing, reforming education to give more control and choice to parents, and making it easier to bank, save, borrow, and invest.

The comprehensive evidence provided in The Inclusive Economy is overwhelming: economic growth lifts more people out of poverty than any achievable amount of redistribution does. As Tanner notes, “we need a new debate, one that moves beyond our current approach to fighting poverty to focus on what works rather than on noble sentiments or good intentions.” The Inclusive Economy is a major step forward in that debate.

Praise for The Inclusive Economy

“Michael Tanner has produced an extraordinarily thoughtful and comprehensive look at the history, causes, and debates about poverty. His ultimate goal, to eradicate rather than alleviate poverty, will be widely shared, but his analysis and proposals will clearly challenge the beliefs of conservatives, libertarians, and progressives alike.”
Andrew Stern, president emeritus, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

“I have a bookshelf full of treatises about the history and purposes of welfare programs, most written by prominent experts on the right and left. But this volume could be the most thorough, scholarly, and balanced in exploring the major explanations for poverty. It will be a long time before we get another volume on poverty that delivers the breadth of understanding and solutions found in this superb volume.”
Ron Haskins, codirector, Center on Children and Families, Cabot Family Chair in Economic Studies, Brookings Institution

“Tanner’s excellent new book bypasses the left-right divide to take the problem of poverty seriously. He shows that persistent poverty in the United States is largely structural. Welfare programs can help keep the poor from starving, but they have not and cannot solve the problem because they do not change the unfair structures which prevent the poor from escaping poverty. It’s time we stop stacking the deck against the most vulnerable members of society.”
Jason Brennan, Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Chair and Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy, Georgetown University

“Michael Tanner shows us why too much government regulation and too little economic freedom are precisely the structural conditions that keep so many Americans trapped in poverty. This is a balanced, sober, and thoughtful examination of the causes of poverty in the United States and a hopeful and practical road map for how to make things better.”
Matt Zwolinski, Director, University of San Diego, Center for Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy

About the Author

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., where he heads research on a variety of domestic policy issues, with an emphasis on social welfare, health care, and retirement. He is the author of several previous books, including Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis and Leviathan on the Right: How Big Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution, and coauthor of A New Deal for Social Security. Tanner is a frequent commentator on cable and network television, and his writing has appeared in nearly every major American newspaper.


Number of Pages: 
Publication Date: 
December 4, 2018