Thomas Piketty has commandeered our intellectual conversation in a way no other book has in recent years. You’re probably thinking everyone has weighed in on it. Wrong. In this issue, Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary and one of our most distinguished economists, takes a close look at the book of the season. He believes that Piketty’s research on inequality is Nobel-worthy—but he questions the French economist’s ideas about the causes of and solutions for inequality.
Also in the issue: We proudly present a symposium on national service featuring General Stanley McChrystal, former Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford, Clive Belfield, and Shirley Sagawa. Their ideas to make national service part and parcel of citizenship are bracing and thought-provoking.
There’s more: E.J. Dionne examines the emergent reform conservatives, but asks: Is there really anything new here, or just old ideas in new packaging? Michael Cohen argues for a smaller, reality-based Army. Cristina Rodriguez looks at how state and local governments are increasingly taking the lead on immigration policy and contends that that’s a good thing. In the books section, Paul Starr looks back on the New Democrats. And Todd Gitlin reviews the new book by Matt Taibbi, one of our most impassioned critics of corporate America.