Review: Creating a Learning Society

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Joseph Stiglitz, Bruce Greenwald

4.0 out of 5 stars Glass Half Full — Cannot Be Ignored But Also Off the Rails, September 4, 2014

Among all economists in the English language, I hold Joseph Stiglitz to be among the most enlightened and virtuous. When I formed a “dream” coalition cabinet in 2012, he was on it. His co-author is of less interest to me — finance geeks have been demonstrably impotent these past fifty years — and particularly those who fall prey to mathematical formulas lacking in social integrity — and I believe with book would have been stronger had Stiglitz either gone it alone, or collaborated with an educator such as Derek Bok. The book is also rooted in old lectures, starting in 2008, and it is focused on Kenneth Arrow’s work, which is best appreciated on its own merits. See, for example:

Moral Hazard in Health Insurance (Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series)
The Limits of Organization (Fels Lectures on Public Policy Analysis)
General Competitive Analysis, Volume 12 (Advanced Textbooks in Economics)

The weakest point of this book, which does indeed have much to offer for anyone who cares about the future of academia, commerce, governance, and society, is that is “assumes” integrity on the part of the government, and that industrial policies are somehow going to corrupt deep ethical and intellectual failings across all major forms of organization (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit). This is the same mistake made by Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update and the Club of Rome. The *losing* alternative to the Limits to Growth assumption that top-down government would deal responsibly with climate change and other high level threats focused instead on education from the bottom up — the central point of Will Durant’s 1919 doctoral thesis, now available as Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition.

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Sep 4

Review (Guest): Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis – Parasitic Finance Capital

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Ismael Hossein-azdeh

5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Hossein-zadeh, Ismael. 2014. Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis: Parasitic Finance Capital., May 16, 2014

By Isaac Christiansen

Ismael Hossein-zadeh has done a masterful job in explaining the causes of the 2007-08 financial collapse and in identifying what must be done in response. He sets out in Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis to first demonstrate the origins of the crisis and the subsequent transfer of “tens of trillions” of dollars from the vast majority of society into the coffers of the financial speculators through the imposition of austerity cuts on the many for the benefit of the few; and secondly to examine potential societal responses to avoid the repetition of such crises in the future. To do this, he begins by examining the two most prominent explanations for the crisis: the neoliberal explanation, which claimed it was due to irrational market actors and/or intrusive government policies that interfered with the self-correcting market mechanism; and the Keynesian explanation, which explained the crisis as the result of excessive deregulation, “inappropriate” public policy and supply side strategies. The author skillfully exposes the weaknesses of both and offers a compelling and well grounded alternative explanation, as indicated in the book’s title.

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Jun 16

Review: Economics of the 1%

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John Weeks

4.0 out of 5 stars While Relevant and Pointed, Suffers from Hyperbole and Lack of Clarity, February 16, 2014

On balance, Lionel Tiger’s book The Manufacture Of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System is the better book, along with those by William Greider, John Bogle, and Matt Taibbi:

The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History

I found this book unclear and guilty of at least as much hyperbole as those the author seeks to criticize. I would have been much more impressed has the author taken the top ten canards (unfounded rumor or story) of fake economics as he calls it (in virtually every paragraph, an annoying pretense) and very simply made the case pro and con. Instead — I am not a rocket scientist — I found 70% of his words, graphics, and claims to be on a par with those he seeks to ciritize….unclear and unsatisfying.

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Feb 16

Review (Guest) The Crash of 2016 – The Plot to Destroy America – And What We Can Do to Stop It

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Thom Hartmann

4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and Troubling Look at an Impending Economic Implosion, November 16, 2013

Book Shark

“The Crash of 2016″ is a provocative and troubling look at an economic implosion that will occur unless we take drastic measures to stop it. “A story of how America was dragged into the Crash of 2016.” Well-known progressive national and international radio and TV talk show host and accomplished author, Thom Hartmann places his focus on an economic crisis that may turn into the Fourth Great Crash since the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This stimulating 294-page book includes sixteen chapters broken out by the following five parts: 1. The Economic Royalists and the Corporatist Conspiracy, 2. Why We Crashed, 3. “Oppression, Rebellion, Reformation”, 4. The Great Crash, and 5. Out of the Ashes.

Positives:
1. A professional and gifted author Hartmann is a master at engaging the public with a well- balanced narrative of history, current events and foresight.
2. The book has great format and flow. It’s entertaining, enlightening and the pages turn themselves.
3. Hartmann is a great and passionate thinker. His knowledge of history, and his ability to identify patterns is only matched by the skill to convey his conclusions in a lucid, straightforward manner.
4. Troubling, straight-forward eye-opening conclusions. “This crash is coming. It’s inevitable. I may be off a few years plus or minus in my timing, but the realities of the economic fundamentals left to us by thirty-three years of Reaganomics and deregulation have made it a certainty. We are quite simply repeating the mistakes of the 1920s, the 1850s, and the 1760s, and we are so far into them it’s extremely unlikely that anything other than reinflating the recent bubbles to buy a little time here and there will happen.”

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Nov 27

Review: The Price of Inequality:How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future

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Joseph Stiglitz

5.0 out of 5 stars Ethical Economist Confronts Two-Party Tyranny — Defines 70% of the Way Forward, November 26, 2013

I have admired this economist, one of a tiny handful who are not bought and paid for by the banks, for quite a long time. I’d like to see him at Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), with a Deputy Director for Management that actually has authority for Whole of Government strategy and management. Of course that would require an honest president and an honest congress, so I am not holding my breath on this one.

In passing, I ran for President as an accepted candidate for the Reform Party in 2012 — it only took six weeks to recognize that neither Occupy nor any of the other candidates (there are EIGHT accredited parties in the USA, only 2 of which are allowed to actually run for office) were in the least bit interested in a universal demand for electoral reform and a coalition cabinet. See the six big ideas at bigbatusa.org, where you will also find the author of this book listed as the ideal member of the Cabinet for the OMB function.

There are so many other excellent reviews, I am using my contribution to list his specific recommendation for economic reform, and point to a few other related books that support this extraordinary work. My comments added below are in brackets.

THE ECONOMIC REFORM AGENDA

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Nov 26

Eagle: Recommended book, Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America

300 Million Talons...

300 Million Talons…

Recommended — but also misleading, in that democracy was lost the day JFK died, and no later than 1978 when the economy peaked against the middle class.

Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America

John Nichols , Robert W. McChesney

Amazon Book Description: Fresh from the first $10 billion election campaign, two award-winning authors show how unbridled campaign spending defines our politics and, failing a dramatic intervention, signals the end of our democracy.  Blending vivid reporting from the 2012 campaign trail and deep perspective from decades covering American and international media and politics, political journalist John Nichols and media critic Robert W. McChesney explain how US elections are becoming controlled, predictable enterprises that are managed by a new class of consultants who wield millions of dollars and define our politics as never before.

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Jul 19

Review (Guest): Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Survival Plan for the Human Species

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Paul Hellyer

5.0 out of 5 stars Beams of Light from a Well-Respected Statesman September 18, 2010

By Gerald MacLennon

Unlike our Asian counterparts, the West often fails to accord our wise elders the honor they deserve – the status they have earned by devoting their lives to love of, and service to humankind. Paul Hellyer of Canada is one such man. Born in 1923, he is very much a hero of the 20th century; yet he continues his vigorous momentum into the new century, preparing youth for the hopes and challenges that lie ahead.

As former Minister of Defense for Canada and cabinet member during both the Pearson and Trudeau administrations, Hellyer is certain that technology currently exists to replace the ecologically-destructive world oil economy. He argues that, while difficult and financially threatening to “big oil,” a gradual transition can, and must be implemented post haste, warning that ten years is just about all the time we have left before the ecological damage to our planet becomes irreversible.

“Failure to disclose a clean energy alternative to fossil fuels,” he writes, “is worse than a crime against humanity. It’s a crime against creation and the Creator.”

His book speaks volumes about crimes against planet Earth. He investigates them from many perspectives, laying out charges against perpetrators, and in his wisdom, offers rehabilitation plans to assure today’s youth that they will inherit a world redeemed from near destruction.

Minister Hellyer reminds his American readers of the long-standing economic dirty tricks, the incessant meddling in the internal affairs of other nations and myriads of injustices carried out by the United States government under the banner of democracy, freedom and, ironically, peace – also that, because of U.S. news media collusion, such outrages rarely reach the eyes and ears of the average Yankee.

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May 4

Review (Guest): The Global Minotaur – America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy

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DESCRIPTION

In this remarkable and provocative book, Yanis Varoufakis explodes the myth that financialisation, ineffectual regulation of banks, greed and globalisation were the root causes of the global economic crisis. Rather, they are symptoms of a much deeper malaise which can be traced all the way back to the Great Crash of 1929, then on through to the 1970s: the time when a ‘Global Minotaur’ was born. Just as the Athenians maintained a steady flow of tributes to the Cretan beast, so the ‘rest of the world’ began sending incredible amounts of capital to America and Wall Street. Thus, the Global Minotaur became the ‘engine’ that pulled the world economy from the early 1980s to 2008.

Today’s crisis in Europe, the heated debates about austerity versus further fiscal stimuli in the US, the clash between China’s authorities and the Obama administration on exchange rates are the inevitable symptoms of the weakening Minotaur; of a global ‘system’ which is now as unsustainable as it is imbalanced. Going beyond this, Varoufakis lays out the options available to us for reintroducing a modicum of reason into a highly irrational global economic order.

An essential account of the socio-economic events and hidden histories that have shaped the world as we now know it.

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Apr 27

Review: The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party

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cover pink swastikaScott Lively and Kevin Abrams

5.0 out of 5 stars Please Appreciate the Difference — Much Misunderstanding Here, March 8, 2013

I notice the stark conflict between 30+ 5 star reviews and 30+ 1 star reviews.

I humbly offer a clarifying comment based on my broad reading.

There are two kinds of gays and lesbians that I know of:

The “good” kind are those associated with the normal gay and lesbian liberation movement who strive to make gay and lesbian an open, loving, accepting and accepted way of life that is biologically rooted and culturally stable — not seen as a threat by anyone, appreciated the way one appreciates a genius or an artist or someone with a special gift. To the best of my knowledge, this larger movement does NOT reject God, and just as we separate church and state, we should separate biology and theology.

The “bad” kind are those associated with the Nazi Brown Shirts who wanted to make their form of “manly” gay, including pedophilia and sadism against other men, women, children, and animals, what Mrs. Kay Griggs calls the “existentialists” that arose out of a mix of Nazi and French sadists who believe they are above the law, that murder is a form of precision war, and that only those that accept the macho gay cult should be fully trusted and promoted. The really scary part about this group is that they demand that their condition stay in the closet, unknown to others, and this cult appears to have infected the highest ranks of the US Marine Corps, the US Army, the Joint Special Operations Group, the NATO Gladio special channel rooted in Italy (the Vatican Church and very young Italian orphans have played a very special role in the Naples, Milan, and other Mediterranean all male party houses frequented by these people, and in the NY-NJ-CT crime and cloth circuit with Yale’s Skull and Bones and Princetons Cap and Gown secret societies as the axis of evil in America.

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Mar 8

Review (Guest): The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse & Betrayal

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Nick Bryant

5.0 out of 5 stars Read it and weep, then seethe… April 22, 2010

By Thomas J. Breidenbach

“Deep politics” is scholar Peter Dale Scott’s term for historical machinations such as drug-running and assassinations which form covert if systemic features of the contemporary state and which are all-too naively dismissed as “conspiracy theories.” A number of people who study such matters seriously have long suspected that the scandal centering on Omaha, Nebraska’s Franklin Credit Union in the 1970s and `80s forms the conceptual linchpin to a truly critical understanding of the perverse, brutal and predatory nature of power in late-imperial America. Having read former Nebraska State Senator John DeCamp’s brave if somewhat desultory 1992 book on the subject, THE FRANKLIN COVER-UP, and watched the unaired British television documentary CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE on the internet, we have also sensed, with a certain despair, that the nature and details of this scandal were so shocking, ugly, confusing and strange as to forever defy broader public credulity and scrutiny. It is with a profound sense of relief, admiration and gratitude, then, that one reads Nick Bryant’s THE FRANKLIN SCANDAL, which accomplishes the seemingly impossible: an eminently gripping, thorough and accessible account of perhaps the grimmest aspect of contemporary U. S. history.

It is amusing to see the sole negative reviewer on these pages (as of this writing) suggest that Bryant has gullibly relied only on the apparent victims of the scandal, when in fact the author has taken pains to bolster accusations voiced in his book with the testimony of law-enforcement, governmental, mental health, legal and social-service officials, as well as journalists and others whose professions and/or personal relationships brought them into the orbit of this lurid story.

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Jan 31