Managed by the Markets, by Gerald F. Davis (Hardcover, 2009)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This book was interesting, but it showed a lack of
rigor and the amount of repetition was fairly significant. I think the
author had a collection of articles or lectures, and decided to
aggregate them into a book format rather than sit down and outline a
book and then draw from authoritative sources to write it. That may not
be the case, but that's how it reads. And you'll see some of his other
works listed in the reference section.
The author's political views are hard to miss. The
whole point of the book seems to be to propagate those views under the
guise of "analysis" and nonfiction. This book takes a new approach by
toning down the propaganda to make it appear more like the result of
reasoned analysis. But, it's still propaganda.
Why the soft-pedaling? Perhaps the publisher is
aware of the reader backlash that is killing the newspapers--people just
don't want to have their intelligence insulted. So instead of the normal
"in your face" passing off of statist/leftist religion as fact, the
author tries to soft-pedal it. But the bias still shows and this
detracts from the book.
I'm not against expressing one's views in a book
that's supposed to be nonfiction. But certain requirements need to be
met. For example, the author needs to make it clear when doing this and
also present the other side. Such views need to be supported with some
kind of evidence or they shouldn't be presented in the first place. In
this book, there's not much of a connection between Davis' attempts to
be subtle with these views and the facts presented in the book. One can
get from Point A to Point B only by leaps of logic.
On the one hand, Davis did a good job of exposing
the fact that our statist/leftist system is crumbling. On the other
hand, his solution to this is to suggest that if you pick up the
Demopublican turd by one end rather than the other, you won't get any
stink on your fingers. I have it on good authority that turds are
uniformly stinky, but many people adhere to the "magnet theory" as if
there's a north and south pole on these things and one end is somehow
rose-scented. That particular delusion is why things are getting worse
instead of better.
Worse? Yes, I'd say going from a staggering $5
trillion debt under Clinton to a staggering $11 trillion debt under Bush
to the staggering additions of debt we've gotten under Obama isn't
improving our debt picture. If you disagree, try maxing out all of your
credit cards and then not making even the minimum payments. See if your
credit card issuer considers that an improvement.
Yet, Davis completely ignores this in favor of
suggesting that the Republican wing of the Demopublican Party messed up
a wonderful system and now Obama must deal with the damage. He fails to
mention that Obama got an F-rating from every citizen watchdog group
during his brief stint as a US Senator, compiling one of the worst
records in the history of the Senate.
This misconception of a two-party, one is good the
other is atrocious system is propagated by the same mudstream media that
stuck us with a new president whose answer to our staggering $11
trillion debt was to promptly go out and make it significantly worse.
It's not "hope and change" when you do more of the same. It's stupidity.
No, I take that back. Einstein said doing more of what's not working was
insanity. I defer to him in this matter. We do not have a stupid
president. We have an insane one. That's not a political observation,
but a financial one.
That is not to say that I think Bush's more than
doubling of our debt was sane. It wasn't. The point I am making here is
that insanity is what it is, and it doesn't change simply because the
person doing it belongs to a different wing of the same corrupt
political party as someone else doing something insane. If you throw
gasoline on a burning home, you're making the fire hotter regardless of
what your rhetoric is.
Davis provides a fairly detailed history of
corporations in America, dividing that history into two eras.
In the first era, the corporations ran businesses
to benefit the managers. This was the era of "managerialism." In this
era, the "company man" had a secure job with advancement. Davis seems to
romanticize this era, and mourn its passing. And why did it pass?
You may recall a 1977 summer blockbuster movie
called "Star Wars." The villain in that episode was Darth Vader. From
Davis' text, we can conclude that Ronald Reagan studied that movie
intensely and then patterned his presidency after Vader. Thanks to
Reagan, the Garden of Eden ended for corporate America, and managers
were no longer in charge. Thanks to Reagan, corporations began serving
stockholders rather than managers. And that's where unemployment,
scandal, and corporate incompetence came from. At least, that's how it
read to me. And I don't agree with that view.
What "Darth Reagan" apparently introduced was a
concept called "Financialization." From that flowed a series of sea
changes in regulation, ethics, and possibly the human genome. Indeed,
Davis says we now view our family members as financial assets. Maybe
some people do. I don't know anyone like that, myself.
Davis vainly tries to support this "financialization
era" idea, but no amount of lipstick on that particular pig is going to
persuade anyone outside the statist/leftist religion. The subtitle, "How
Refinance Re-Shaped America" is appropriate to the text, but the author
just doesn't make the case that refinancing did any such thing. Davis is
preaching to a particular choir, rather than producing a solid work of
To see what has reshaped America over the past few
decades, we merely need to look at the atrocious spending record of the
U.S. Congress (the National Taxpayers Union has the data, you can go to
www.ntu.org to see for yourself) and
track the staggering national debt that has ensued. When the economy has
to carry this kind of debt, a bad outcome is the only possible outcome.
If we look at the longer time span Davis uses,
there are several dates that immediately come to mind. For example, in
1863 we got stuck with a national bank. This arrangement has never
worked well, which is why Andrew Jackson killed the national bank in his
Presidency. In 1913, we got stuck with a series of "how deranged can
they get?" laws that set the stage for exactly the kinds of problems
Davis describes. None of this has anything to do with Reagan coming to
power and somehow destroying the capitalist system.
If you cut out the repetition and the "analysis"
part of the book, what remains is some solid research. And that part's
worth reading. But that part doesn't lead to any particular conclusions.
This book consists of seven chapters. It has 255
pages of text. It also has extensive notes and extensive references. A
close look at these references reveals that the author has a proclivity
to choose materials that support his existing worldview, rather than
draw from a balanced research to form that view. Many of his sources are
notorious for not getting their facts right.
A case in point is the New York Times, which
appears frequently among the referenced sources. That publication is the
"morning scripture" of people who desperately want to believe that more
of the same failed government is somehow better and so need a daily dose
of propaganda to help them overcome the facts that are all around them.
People who want to be disinformed read it. People who want to be
informed take no part in its intellectual toxicity. Davis' heavy
reliance on the NYT shows throughout the book.
I think this book is valuable if the reader uses a
highlighter and keeps a notebook while reading. Afterwards, you can go
back and research the points that struck you as particularly
interesting. For me, this book contains plenty of such points. But be
careful not to swallow the ideas that the author just doesn't support
with fact or logic.