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riley

riley

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The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion
Melvin Lerner

The New Empire of Debt: The Rise and Fall of an Epic Financial Bubble (Agora Series)

The New Empire of Debt: The Rise and Fall of an Epic Financial Bubble (Agora Series) - William Bonner, Addison Wiggin, Agora This is a toughy. The good: They really nail the economic problems facing the U.S. The list they provide on pg. 290 is pretty much everything we need to know about why the United States (and, to a lesser extent, the West) can't keep going as it has been. When they focus on matters of government accounting, they are pretty much right on. Also, they have a sense of humour, which is a raririty in economics. Often their sense of humour is a little too "holier than thou" but occasionally they are hysterically funny, which is always nice. The bad (there's lots of it, I might not remember it all): I don't think I can remember a more socio-politically naieve pair of authors than these two. They have this underlying premise (which they explicitly state maybe once) that economic (monetary) transactions are valid and others aren't. This is one of the most preposterous views of the world I have ever encountered. I don't know what to begin. I can't imagine living to middle age and being so ridiculously naieve. Their footnoting/sourcing is generally atrocious, as if they never went to school. They repeat themselves, go on rants that would be better placed in other chapters or excised altogether, and then they repeat themselves again. They bury their economic analysis in a rant. They are horrible historians. For one example, they arbitrarily decide the American Empire began with Woodrow Wilson, occasionally Teddy Roosevelt, and very occasionally Lincoln. They forget about...oh let's see: the "quasi-war" with France, the Barbary pirate actions, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, interventions in Korea and China, and a whole other host of things which the US did prior to Wilson which could be considered imperial. They never offer any kind of solution. That would be acceptable if this were a more solid critique, but since it's a rant, it ain't. They are the worst kind of conservatives. They believe a golden age existed in the past and we just need to recapture it. But they go farther back than the neo-cons, who only look to the 50s. They look back to the 19th century and, scarily, to the era of Wildcat banks. So their implicit solution is that we need to return to the 19th century. Brilliant. The laissez faire ideas that lie behind their ideas are just as ridiculous as the ideas they criticize, as just as obviously fallible. The concept of an invisible hand is a relic of heretical Christianity... It really gets humerous when they suddenly trot out "essentialism," a philosophy (if it can be called that) which they do not appear to understand and which they completely fail to see as underlying 99% of what they spent the book criticizing. I could go on and on but I'm tired. The only thing that gets this a 4/10 is that they are dead on about the US financial situation as it was 6 years ago. Oh yeah, and they predicted the housing crash. Those two things. Otherwise, there is a hell of a lot of garbage in this book.