Economism

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9781101871195We all know this stuff, and unless you are Paul Ryan, his Tea Party friends or a Koch brother, weep. The US has the lowest minimum wage (as a proportion of its average wage) of any advanced economy. The soulless ones use economism to argue against raising the minimum wage and claim that even a low minimum wage hurts the poor. One simplistic model is presented as a workable rule even if it doesn’t stand up in complicated real life scenarios, mainly because it supports the needs of interest groups (big business that depends on cheap labor), which fund politicians. “Economism” by James Kwak is a book about how a little bit of information can be a bad thing and how facts under different circumstances quickly turn to fiction. The subsequent misinformation can ramify throughout society, however misleading it may be. Economics 101 is simplistic and when formulas are plugged into actual situations isn’t economics at all but economism. Economism is the misleading application of basic Econ 101 concepts to real world problems in such a simplistic way that the predictive power is completely impotent, not to mention incorrect. When politicians have adapted the concepts of economism to complex problems, the result is dangerous levels of inequality. Remember what happened in Venice. Over time, a few families gained hegemony, inequality escalated further, then the whole city lost its economic global dominance and the Republic collapsed. There is so much to say on about this book, I hardly know where to start. Because this is a great, germane book, please don’t let my totally inadequate review stop you from reading it.

Nicole Charbonnet

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