©2006 Dean Baker; (P)2006 Polity Audio LLC and Creative Commons
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"An eye opening book"
A clear and direct book that points out flaws in conservative policy and suggests possible alternatives. This book addresses issues such as protectionism for certain professions, unnecessarily high CEO pay, medical insurance, language tricks used by conservatives to promote their agenda (e.g. "free trade" agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA are not designed to promote free trade), and many others. Assertions made in the book as supported by a large number of studies noted in the reference section. The book (including figures and references) is also available for (free) on-line reading at the book's website: http://www.conservativenannystate.com/
This is a "must read" book for anyone who wants to understand the deeply rooted reason for many of the current political and economic problems.
"The reviewers who disagree with Baker..."
... are unable to tell us why. If the book is "so full of holes", you would expect them to at least point one out.
Dean Baker has been consistently right about matters economic, and this book tells you why.
"Tax breaks to businesses or the poor? Which way?"
The premise of the book is the Conservatives in the United States have been able to frame the discussions on budget by claiming that they want less government, and the Liberals want more. In reality both want as much government, it's just the Conservative's want their government to protect the business interests and the 1% with tax breaks, protectionism and corporate welfare. The Liberals want the government to help the middle class and poor.
Things that did soak through my addled brain were:
1. We need to stand up to the Conservatives and re frame the discussion on their "less government" stance.
2. One of the reasons our healthcare system is in trouble is the salaries paid to doctors are higher than any where else in the world and the fact the government frowns on too many doctors from other countries practicing here. Same for lawyers and CEO's salaries are out the roof.
3. Mr. Baker wants to do away with patents and install a system of vouchers so entrepreneurs can be paid for their work. (Didn't understand where the money would come from, but understand the idea that people like Bill Gates made an exorbitant profit from his patents.)
The best part of this book is the new ideas that are coming to change the way we do business. I am not sure if they will all work but I welcome the innovation.
I enjoyed the narration and liked the way the footnotes were handled.
"Brilliant clarifification of policies"
This book is a serious economic policy assessment of what conservatives actually do in exact contradiction to what they say. The narrative is coherent, consistent and very clear. The book is an excellent defense against the most outrageous lies that conservatives keep telling the American people. The solutions the book proposes are very positive and necessary if we are to restore equality or genuine democracy.
"Interesting alternatives, not politically viable"
This book is trying to intentionally push ideas of what is possible. The point is not the political viabilies of different economic ideas, but reality that different ideas exist. Yes there would be some unintended consequences, but there are unintended consequences now. The author is intentionally trying to push conservatives buttons and there is fair amount of snark and humor (most of which is lost in the reading.)
I did like the way footnotes were handled.
"An Alternative View"
...on protectionism and welfare for the rich. Important and deeply connected to a wealth of publicly available evidence. May take a second listen to fully reveal the gems locked within. The journey, however, is well worth the effort.
"Great Thesis, Poor Delivery"
(I am mostly repeating my review of the Audible version of the book from amazon.com. I'm not sure why Amazon didn't just stick it over here, but so it goes...)
I listened to this book - even the notes and introductions. With respect to the Audible version of the book, the narrator is fine and does a good job. However, the Audible organization of appendices and text notes is beyond bizarre. I would greatly recommend getting the text version over the Audible version, especially if you suspect you will be familiar with some of the arguments.
Content-wise, unfortunately Dean Baker mostly parrots what the Libertarians have been crying about for decades, while both major parties turn a deaf ear. I was really hoping for something new, or at least creatively packaged.
On the plus side, Baker has a good point that Conservatives (nit - I'd say "corporatist Republicans" but whatever) have won the language debate, and love to hide corporate welfare under pleasant-sounding names. Politicians of all stripes love to give government incentives and protectionism to their buddies, and at least half of those (R) were mentioned. Baker also has a good point that immigration is a horrid mess. If you don't have much economic knowledge, then maybe these will be interesting for you. Even if the points are a review, maybe they'll revive some latent fire in your belly and you'll want to go beat down a Tea Partier. For me, they were disappointingly more of the same.
If you've read Libertarian propaganda from the past 20 years you've probably read every point in the book, and then some. Love them or hate them, the die-hard Libertarians are at least honest about welfare regardless of who is getting it. Still, different audience, I get why it could be interesting to some folks.
The most frustrating part of the book, and the reason I rate it so low, is that on many points Baker vacillates wildly. Protectionism is bad for doctors and lawyers, but not for dishwashers. Unions are good, but the AMA and Bar are not. Immigration is good, but only for "skilled" individuals. There are a few dozen examples of these inconsistencies throughout the book, running about the same frequency I might encounter with a thoughtless partisan friend. I was expecting more from an actual, published, edited book; I would love to have been able to recommend it to politically disagreeing friends, but frankly any corporatist Republican is going to be able to tear it to shreds without much trouble.
"Computerized voice makes for a hard listen"
The computerized voice is only a small part of it. The fanciful claims with no facts to back any of it up makes this book a laugh. The laughing only lasts for so long. Eventually the comedic relief of ridiculousness because as wearisome as repetitive, juvenile humor does and a person starts feeling just a little dumber for each second of continued listening.
An interesting look at modern politics and some it's biggest contradictions, what happen to be many in number.
"Too much info?"
This recording seems to drone on and on. The last 40+ minutes is a bibliography.
These two facts alone are major downsides to the recording, and whatever good ideas may be here are lost when the listener tunes out.
The bibliography should have been put in a PDF and linked instead of recorded.
This is probably worth a listen if you want to expand your horizons and have a lot of time on your hands.
I would not say that I have a particularly strong leaning either left or right, but I felt that this was paper-thin. I have not journeyed (too) far into this audiobook as I found it tiresome from early on. It makes confident statements about the negative aspects of capitalism without really explaining the rationale behind its apparent evilness. We then find ourselves given a short, positive alternative without explanation.
It doesn't feel as though the writer has gone to lengths to justify his perspective of the world, nor to deride the alternative.
Imagine the general musings from a trade union agitator-slash-conspiracy theorist that people politely ignore in the local pub.
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