Get local news delivered straight to your phone
Sick and tired of hearing that the United States is stewing in an economic funk? Michael Moynihan, nephew of New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, argues in a new book that the force is with us—and that the smart ones among us will ride it to affluence.
Heavy on boldfaced nuggets, The Coming American
Renaissance: How to Benefit From America’s Economic Resurgence (Simon & Schuster, 320 pp., $23.00) is a stylistic synthesis of Alvin Toffler–style megatrendism and the cocksure economic thinking of the Economist.
We can't make City Paper without you
Moynihan’s thesis is that America is the country best able to take advantage of international trends in communications, manufacturing, capital flows, trade policy, linguistics, and demographics. He is also bullish on the commercial potential of the Internet and other emerging communications technologies.
The son of a New York Times reporter and Kennedy administration official, Moynihan, 38, grew up partly in New York and partly in the Washington area, graduating from Bethesda–Chevy Chase High School before attending Columbia University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In the book, Moynihan soft-pedals his famous uncle; he interviewed the senator but mentions him only deep in the acknowledgements.
Moynihan’s politics, like his uncle’s, are sui generis. When asked, the author proclaims that he’s “definitely a Democrat”; he currently serves as a senior adviser in the Treasury Department. But the book’s analysis includes extensive party line–bending.
Moynihan rails against the Reagan administration’s strong-dollar policies and borrow-and-spend defense buildup. But Renaissance sounds like Newt Gingrich when it lionizes today’s entrepreneurial economy and the downsizing, outsourcing, and restructuring that has ended up aiding the educated and affluent at the expense of the working class and the poor.
And Moynihan invokes the Kennedyesque (and later Reaganesque) belief that a rising tide can lift all boats. “The prevailing atmosphere is gloom and doom,” he says. “A lot of people may say I’m being Pollyanna-ish: How can we be on the verge of a renaissance? But they are totally wrong.”—Louis Jacobson