I chose ECONned for our first book giveaway because I saw the appeal for our readers interested in how young people are scammed into taking out massive private loans in an economy with stagnating wages and debt slaves holding onto the last vestiges of the middle class lifestyle. But that is just one part of a much larger scam being run on not just us but also our friends, family, and neighbors. It is obligatory for everyone regardless of your educational background to understand how hardworking Americans were conned by financial firms and their enablers before we begin to see the big picture and how that is tied to much of the free market education propaganda that has led to the education, economic inequality, and insane tuition rates we've discussed at this blog. So that when you see a cartoon like this, all of your knowledge will make that little light bulb go off in your head and you can quickly file it under partisan propaganda: comparing 2010 health insurance windfall reform to social security and medicare is an insult to FDR and LBJ.
As Smith states in her book, it is necessary to call the resulting extortion, capture, looting, and propaganda from libertarian idealism/Mussolini-style corporatism by its proper name in order to root out the problem. If we won’t educate ourselves to separate truth from propaganda, the ruling class will continue to con and loot for as long as possible until there is nothing left to take. Smith makes that clear in her many examples from the Mexico banking crisis in 1994, a microcosm of our current situation – deregulation unleashing predatory behavior – to the growing scandals on Wall Street in the 1990s and 2000s including the Salomon Brothers Treasury bond fraud and the current financial crisis that began in 2007 with policy makers such as Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geither still in power despite helping create the meltdown in their past positions.
I read BDBlue’s book review of ECONned at Corrente and thought s/he was spot on in pointing out how free markets and libertarian ideology has dangerously made its way into the neoliberal lexicon. We see it in Obama’s education policy as BDBlue points out and as I had noted in one of Angel’s posts on Secretary of the Department of Education Arne Duncan in February. The discussion also noted a passage which caught my attention and is something that Ian Welsh brought up in his radio interview at 00:28:00-00:30:15 about how even rich people who live in a unequal society suffer consequences with their health and overall lifestyle as opposed to rich people in more equal societies. It's an amazing fact that gets little attention in our country from the media or economists, but has a huge impact on our health and daily lives. Living in a free market society where people feel devalued literally makes all of us sick:
But income inequality is not just of concern to economists. A study by public health experts in the United States and abroad that was, predictably, not well publicized in the United States itself, found that inhabitants of countries with greater income inequality show lower life expectancy on average even after adjusting for differences in income levels and diet.Some of our readers more interested in the legal aspects of economic theory and the rise of the free market system will appreciate chapter 5, How “Free Markets” Was Sold, which discusses how inculcating judges was a major avenue in promoting the free market ideology beginning in the 1980s:
...Findings like this are stark reminders that framing policy choices solely in economic terms may miss vitally important considerations. After all, many people would trade off a longer healthier life against more income, but economics refuses to consider this preference. (From chapter 1 The Sorcerers Apprentices)
While conservative scholars like Richard Poser and Richard Epstein at the University of Chicago trained some of the initial right-leaning jurists, attorney Henry Manne gave the effort far greater reach. Manne established his “law and economics” courses for judges, which grew into the Law and Economics Center, which in 1980 moved from the University of Miami to Emory in Atlanta and eventually to George Mason University.Smith states that by the mid-1980s, top law schools developed solid law and economics programs. Oddly enough I can’t remember a single law and economics class offered in law school. Maybe it was offered as a seminar but it definitely wasn’t a major part of the law school curriculum unless you count interdisciplinary courses offered at the business school. Did anyone attend a law school that had a strong law and economics program and was it considered more liberal or conservative? I’d be interested in learning more about anyone’s experience if they attended schools like George Mason or UChicago.
…The law and economics promoters sought to colonize legal minds. And, to a large extent they succeeded. For centuries (literally), jurisprudence had been a multifaced subject aimed at ordering human affairs. The law and economics advocates wanted none of that. They wanted their narrow construct to play as prominent a role as possible.There is so much more to discuss but I doubt my elementary understanding of economic concepts would do the book justice. The Angry Future Expat should most definitely be reviewing ECONned instead of me because he is a hundred times more knowledgeable in the area of economics. I dropped my one attempt to learn economics in college because I couldn’t understand the foreign graduate student instructors and numbers and graphs scared me. Only in the last several years have I tried to educate myself by reading blogs like Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism, Calculated Risk, Corrente, and The Big Picture. I highly recommend these blogs which have educated me so much more about current events, economics, and politics than any law school classroom ever did.
For instance, a notion that predates the legal practice is equity, that is, fairness. The law in its various forms including legislative, constitutional, private (i.e., contract), judicial, and administrative, is supposed to operate within broad, inherited concepts of equity. Another fundamental premise is the importance of “due process,” meaning adherence to procedures set by the state. By contrast, the “free markets” ideology focuses on efficiency and seeks aggressively to minimize the role of government. The two sets of assumptions are diametrically opposed.
We have Yves Smith’s ECONned to give away to one lucky But I Did Everything Right reader. Comment or email me at hardknockslaw(at)gmail(dot)com by Thursday April 8th at 11:59pm with an answer to the following question:
What did the current Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner tell American International Group Inc. (AIG) to do while he was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York?
You can find the answer here http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/01/geithners-dubious-aig-cover-up.html
And/Or do any of the following to receive an entry:
Follow our blog publicly and receive one additional entry. Please let me know in the comments section or email that you’ve followed our blog.
Comment on a topic discussed at Naked Capitalism or in ECONned in the comments section and receive one additional entry.
The winner’s initials or pseudonym will be announced on our blog next Friday. I will contact the winner by email and they will have 24 hours to respond with their mailing address. Contest only open to US and Canada residents.