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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The Great Escape by Angus Deaton

title text great escape: health, wealth, and the origins of inequalityThe Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton (2013)

This is a good book. Highly recommended to read. Full of details that are really informative but results in a lot of numbers and statistics. The following tidbits are in random order rather than sequentially by chapters.

POVERTY IN THE UNITED STATES (P. 179+)

I have been puzzled a lot by how poverty is established because when I do the math, to pay for all the basics (rent, food, utilities, phone, Internet, medical insurance, drug insurance, co-pays and deductibles) it exceeds poverty by a lot. I don’t even remotely understand how any one can manage just the cost of tampons and diapers alone, much less clothing, especially for growing kids — the mind boggles. Prior to this section there was an informative but this part was a bit tedious on the GDP and how it is calculated. Informative true, but also depressing because he described how inadequate and somewhat spurious our economic system is based on the GDP.

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The Economic Illusion by Robert Kuttner

black and white title textThe Economic Illusion: False choices between prosperity and social justice  by Robert Kuttner (1984)

Robert Kuttner has become a favorite author because he really knows his stuff and is a very good writer making for an enjoyable read. He is also the author of Debtors’ Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. This book had one of my favorite chapters ever, titled The Moral Economy of Debt [link to come later], basically pointing out the contradiction between the treatment of bankruptcy by individuals as a moral failure contrasted with the get out of jail free card by failed corporations (like Donald Trump’s 4 instances where he sheltered his personal wealth from the risk he took with his businesses).

In this book he makes the case that social justice does not preclude a dynamic economy. This book written a tad more academically than his later books, but is fascinating also because of the date it was published –  1984! [nod to Orwell fans out there since what he discusses is exactly true today] Here are some long quotes from the book.

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The Great Divergence by Timothy Noah

the great divergenceThe Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It is a thorough discussion of economics (ugh hated it in school) that is actually readable if a bit difficult to grasp because I think what the author is saying is that economists make up shit and then persuade politicians to implement their “theories” without grasping consequences — or giving a damn — and the Chicago School cabal led by the lethal charisma of Milton Friedman and his devoted follower, Donald Rumsfeld, Ronald Reagan (Reaganomics is the same brutal theory), and republicans ever since.

This book was due back at the library before I had a chance to grab some quotes for this post, so I will have to get it back to do so. I have kind of developed a better method of reading and quoting simultaneously now though so I won’t have to go back and/or find my notebooks of extensive quotes and comments. On paper. Yeah, I know, what was I thinking!

 

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

shock doctrineThe Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein (2006)
(author of No Logo)

From the inner jacket blurb: “Klein traces back the intellectual origins of disaster capitalism back to the University of Chicago’s economics department under Milton Friedman whose influence is still felt around the world.” And not in a good way. This is the cabal that persuaded Reagan et al that trickle down theory was a sensible plan. Not sure if they did so maliciously or for fun, or just some esoteric playing but with real world consequences.

These events [like 9/11] are examples of what Naomi Klein calls “the shock doctrine”: the use of public disorientation following massive collective shocks — wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters — to push through highly unpopular economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out all resistance, a third is employed: that of the electrode in the prison cell or of the Taser gun. [from jacket blurb again]

It is a long hard read.  Descriptions of torture of prisoners is just one example. After the horrific photos were released and having been shocked to learn it was not Americans being tortured but Americans doing the torturing, I was dumbfounded. My dad was a bomber pilot in WWII and while the Geneva Convention wasn’t completely complied with, and he easily could have been killed, I don’t think I ever heard of Nazi’s treating POWs like we treated Iraq POWs. That is to say, brutally, lawlessly, and criminally. Yet Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld are free to enjoy doing a little painting or whatever enjoying the profit of the 40 million or more that Halliburton made for Cheney off the no-bid contracts for the war supplies. I would love to see an audit of there costs versus what they charged the government. I’ll bet it would show such blatant overpricing that it would even make Republicans cry foul.

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