Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak (1 of 2)

book jacket for Economism red wth black XEconomism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak (2017). Everyone would do well to read this book! Buy it if you like to read good material repeatedly to get the most out of it.

As is stated in the foreword, economics today has become an ideology.

Unfortunately, the ideology it pretends to objectively and neutrally assess ignores reality, supports the “dog eat dog” life experience as the only way the world can work, and basically asserts wealth as a sign of merit, God’s favor, and/or a deserved reward for hard work done ALL BY THEMSELVES with no help from anyone, least of all the government.

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The Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs

book jacketThe Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs (2000) [author 1916-2006]

The book jacket flap praises this book as a modern urban classic. The book “is written in the form of a Platonic dialogue” which I hate.

“The conversation over coffee among five contemporary New Yorkers. . . discuss[es]: Does economic life obey the same rules as those governing the system in nature? For example, can the way fields and forests maximize their intakes and uses of sunlight teach us something about how economics expend wealth and jobs and can do this in environmental beneficial ways?”

Wikipedia has a good article on her writings and activism.

The book is difficult to read despite what reviewers say. The drifty conversation model makes it difficult to follow a theme. The multiple personalities that express various points of view are difficult to grasp as entire characters. A novel would build some backstory so the points of view would have something on which to anchor their views.

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Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth

book jacket showing an empty walletAusterity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth (2013)

I could start and end my commentary with this simple imperative: BUY THIS BOOK.

Economics was one subject about which I had little interest and a lot of hostility when forced to take it in college. The teacher tried his best, but trying to explain economic theory to a bunch of kids who have possibly never had any knowledge of how much money their parents make, spend, or what things cost is a rather hopeless proposition. At least for me, combined with minimal exposure to life long enough to seen the actual consequences of economic theory in policymaking and being able to see the short-term and long-term impact of such policies, made the content just too much of a word salad to be useful.

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IF THE GODS HAD MEANT US TO VOTE THEY WOULD HAVE GIVEN US CANDIDATES

clever book jacket with his face in cowboy hat and blue and red stripes with stars on either side with the photo of heads of politiciansIF THE GODS HAD MEANT US TO VOTE THEY WOULD HAVE GIVEN US CANDIDATES: More political subversion from Jim Hightower (2000)

Note, there is an updated and revised 2010 edition. This cover image is from the 2000 edition I got from the library. They may have the newer version too, and I definitely want to check it out (pun intended!).

I had heard the name of Jim Hightower and recognized him as a politician. I had no idea he was so FUNNY! Since he was from Texas I just assumed he was one of the humorless, hostile, conservative types. Turns out he will SKEWER ANYONE with equal delight!

Jim Hightower, America’s most popular populist, is a bestselling author, radio commentator, public speaker, and all-around political sparkplug whose credo is “You can fight the gods and still have fun.” Twice elected to statewide office in Texas, he has long battled the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought to Be: the working families, consumers, the environment, small businesses, and just plain folks.

Though the jacket copy above used the cringe-worthy “folks” that has forever been made vomit-inducing from the W use of it (and followed by Obama continuation of same while speaking in an elegant fully literate way otherwise), I was delighted to read this description, itself amusing.

The title alone perfectly sums up the 2016 election without needing any updating. In fact, it might be even more applicable to 2016. The 17 losers (and I include 45 in particular despite the Electoral concept biting US all in the ass), was astonishing in the shallowness of the candidates, the YUUUUUGENESS of their egos (45!! Unbelievable. Trust me. Believe me. Sad.)

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The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek

The Road to Serfdom: text and documents, the definitive edition by F. A. Hayek. Edited by Bruce Caldwell (2007)

While I was looking for a Goodreads link for this book, I spotted another book referencing the Hayek’s title, by Grover Norquist (author of the coercive “no taxes” pledge that he had Republicans sign, assuring that government would become “small enough to drown in a bathtub.” He is described as more of a Libertarian than a Republican in some places. Norquist gave a lecture on his views in a 2013, the lectures were named in honor of Hayek.

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