Paul Pierson

Paul Pierson is John Gross Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is co-author, with Jacob Hacker, of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class and American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper (2016).   

Recent Articles

Don't Dismantle Government—Fix It

Under assault from conservatives, government actually holds the key to American prosperity.

(Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster)
(Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster) Members of the media gather for a news conference at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on November 18, 2014, announcing the start of repairs in the Capitol Dome Restoration Project. Below is an excerpt from American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper , by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, published by Simon & Schuster on March 29. A t the beginning of The Book of Laughter and Forgetting , Milan Kundera’s narrator describes a snowy 1948 scene in Prague, with leading communists addressing a crowd. One, Vladimir Clementis, places his fur hat on the head of his bald companion, Klement Gottwald. When Clementis is later purged and executed, the Party’s propagandists erase him from the photograph. All that is left is his fur hat. The enabling role of government is like that fur hat. Today, we see only tiny reminders of a much bigger reality. We know government built a road or a school but too often fail to...

No Cost for Extremism

Why the GOP hasn't (yet) paid for its march to the right. 

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
According to the news media, 2014 was the year that the GOP “Establishment” finally pulled Republicans back from the right-wing brink. Pragmatism, it seemed, had finally triumphed over extremism in primary and general election contests that The New York Times called “proxy wars for the overall direction of the Republican Party.” There’s just one problem with this dominant narrative. It’s wrong. The GOP isn’t moving back to the center. The “proxy wars” of 2014 were mainly about tactics and packaging, not moderation. Consider three of the 2014 Senate victors—all touted as evidence of the GOP’s rediscovered maturity, and all backed in contested primaries by the Establishment’s heavy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Piketty's Triumph

Three expert takes on Capital in the Twenty-First Century, French economist Thomas Piketty's data-driven magnum opus on inequality.

Courtesy of Fondation Jean Jaurès
In the 1990s, two young French economists then affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, began the first rigorous effort to gather facts on income inequality in developed countries going back decades. In the wake of the 2007 financial crash, fundamental questions about the economy that had long been ignored again garnered attention. Piketty and Saez’s research stood ready with data showing that elites in developed countries had, in recent years, grown far wealthier relative to the general population than most economists had suspected. By the past decade, according to Piketty and Saez, inequality had returned to levels nearing those of the early 20th century. Last fall, Piketty published his magnum opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century , in France. The book seeks to model the history, recent trends, and back-to-the-19th-century future of capitalism. The American Prospect asked experts and scholars in the field of inequality to...

Piketty’s Triumph

Three expert takes on Capital in the Twenty-First Century, French economist Thomas Piketty's data-driven magnum opus on inequality.

Courtesy of Fondation Jean Jaurès
I n the 1990s, two young French economists then affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, began the first rigorous effort to gather facts on income inequality in developed countries going back decades. In the wake of the 2007 financial crash, fundamental questions about the economy that had long been ignored again garnered attention. Piketty and Saez’s research stood ready with data showing that elites in developed countries had, in recent years, grown far wealthier relative to the general population than most economists had suspected. By the past decade, according to Piketty and Saez, inequality had returned to levels nearing those of the early 20th century. Last fall, Piketty published his magnum opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century , in France. The book seeks to model the history, recent trends, and back-to-the-19th-century future of capitalism. The American Prospect asked experts and scholars in the field of inequality to...

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