Synopses & Reviews
The cult of the free market has dominated economic policy-talk since the Reagan revolution of nearly thirty years ago. Tax cuts and small government, monetarism, balanced budgets, deregulation, and free trade are the core elements of this dogma, a dogma so successful that even many liberals accept it. But a funny thing happened on the bridge to the twenty-first century. While liberals continue to bow before the free-market altar, conservatives in the style of George W. Bush have abandoned it altogether. That is why principled conservatives -- the Reagan true believers -- long ago abandoned Bush.
Enter James K. Galbraith, the iconoclastic economist. In this riveting book, Galbraith first dissects the stale remains of Reaganism and shows how Bush and company had no choice except to dump them into the trash. He then explores the true nature of the Bush regime: a "corporate republic," bringing the methods and mentality of big business to public life; a coalition of lobbies, doing the bidding of clients in the oil, mining, military, pharmaceutical, agribusiness, insurance, and media industries; and a predator state, intent not on reducing government but rather on diverting public cash into private hands. In plain English, the Republican Party has been hijacked by political leaders who long since stopped caring if reality conformed to their message.
Galbraith follows with an impertinent question: if conservatives no longer take free markets seriously, why should liberals? Why keep liberal thought in the straitjacket of pay-as-you-go, of assigning inflation control to the Federal Reserve, of attempting to "make markets work"? Why not build a new economic policy based on what is really happening in this country?
The real economy is not a free-market economy. It is a complex combination of private and public institutions, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, higher education, the housing finance system, and a vast federal research establishment. The real problems and challenges -- inequality, climate change, the infrastructure deficit, the subprime crisis, and the future of the dollar -- are problems that cannot be solved by incantations about the market. They will be solved only with planning, with standards and other policies that transcend and even transform markets.
A timely, provocative work whose message will endure beyond this election season, The Predator State will appeal to the broad audience of thoughtful Americans who wish to understand the forces at work in our economy and culture and who seek to live in a nation that is both prosperous and progressive.
"James Galbraith has written an extremely challenging book. Although its principal target is conservative economics, it is no less critical of conventional liberalism. Galbraith correctly recognizes that today both approaches are intellectually bankrupt and incapable of addressing the nation's pressing economic problems. I hope The Predator State stimulates needed debate among both liberals and conservatives on the mistakes both sides have made that have gotten us to where we are now."-- Bruce Bartlett, author of Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy
"James Galbraith elegantly and effectively counters the economic fundamentalism that has captured public discourse in recent years, and offers a cogent guide to the real political economy. Myth-busting, far-ranging, and eye-opening." -- Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley
"Shows how to break the spell that conservatives have cast over the minds of liberals (and everyone else) for many years." -- Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (2001)
About the Author
James K. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr., Chair in Government / Business Relations at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds degrees from Harvard and Yale. He studied economics as a Marshall Scholar at King's College, Cambridge, and then served on the staff of the U.S. Congress, including as executive director of the Joint Economic Committee. He directs the University of Texas Inequality Project, an informal research group at the LBJ School, is a Senior Scholar of the Levy Economics Institute, and is chair of Economists for Peace and Security, a global professional association.
Table of Contents
Another God That Failed
1. Whatever Happened to the Conservatives?
2. The Freedom to Shop
3. Tax Cuts and the Marvelous Market of the Mind
4. Uncle Milton's War
5. The Impossible Dream of Budget Balance
6. There Is No Such Thing as Free Trade
The Simple Economics of Predators and Prey
7. What the Rise of Inequality Is Really About
8. The Enduring New Deal
9. The Corporate Crisis
10. The Rise of the Predator State
Dealing with Predators
11. The Inadequacy of Making Markets Work
12. The Need for Planning
13. The Case for Standards
14. Paying for It