I was going to write a review, but then I figured I'm sure any review I do would be inadequate and I'm already a member of a book club so I prefer to not have to discuss specifics in two separate forums.
So, for the purpose of this blog, I will point to a review that I agree with the most and generally say:
Thumbs Up - Recommend!
Ok Ok...maybe I'll comment too:
... All in all, the reviewer is correct in that, while Chang does a great job explaining the myths and our present day problems, he doesn't deliver on solutions. He doesn't say how we can overcome our political failings to ensure the government can act in ways that don't do more harm than good. His argument is largely that there are specific cases that show the government can do this, but there are numerous cases of failure as well. He provides no analysis to show that, if every country adopted his philosophy, that worlds' governments would be able to provide a net gain as opposed to a net loss.
In some sense the problem with Chang's solution(s) are the same problems that plague solutions put forth by mainstream economists: it all sounds great in theory but in reality it is much more difficult. How do "we" know what are 'good' regulations vs. 'bad' regulations? How do we hope, even if we could identify these things, that ideologically driven politicians would keep their bias to a minimum? What is there to prevent corruption and abuse until and unless we address our political system problem first? Until money and media abuse is outside of our political sphere, what hope is there of common-sense solutions for society at large as opposed to solutions for special interests?
That is my major beef with Chang's solutions. Fixing capitalism cannot start with economics, it must start with politics - because politics is the institution in which economics exists in the real world. One can argue that our politicians are driven by what they learn from our mainstream economics. So I do think that one thing that we can immediately change in our economics is the way economics is taught in our schools today. It's a lot of hogwash mixed in with good thoughts - culminating in the creation of bad Samaritans. But again, economics departments today are in and of themselves, fraught with bad politics.
Do you see the problem? I've never heard a good solution.
Were you to say the "Occupy" movement might propose a solution. I would respond: no way in hell.
Mr. Chang ironically points out a main reason why. They have already been branded as crazy anarchists. It's too late for that brand to change, IMOP. The media and mainstream detractors is a good deal at fault here. But Chang I think incorrectly ignores that most of the blame lies with "Occupy" itself. It has been, from its inception, a poorly planned, poorly led, poorly designed movement with far too much 'kernel of truth' to the detractors. To be honest, Occupy does consist of a huge portion of anarchists or extreme Marxists. Indeed their whole system of 100% consensus voting shows how completely unrealistic and anarchic they are.
Occupy could have been great. Instead it has, in fact, made things worse by providing great fodder for the right-wing ideologues.