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Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government Paperback – September 14, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Threshold Editions; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416595023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416595021
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (648 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #583,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Glenn Beck, the nationally syndicated radio host and founder of TheBlaze television network, is a twelve-time #1 bestselling author and is one of the few authors in history to have had #1 national bestsellers in the fiction, nonfiction, self-help, and children’s picture book genres. His recent fiction works include the thrillers Agenda 21, The Overton Window, and its sequel, The Eye of Moloch; his many nonfiction titles include Conform, Miracles and Massacres, Control, and Being George Washington. For more information about Glenn Beck, his books, and TheBlaze TV network, visit GlennBeck.com and TheBlaze.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

IN DEFENSE OF CAPITALISM

Giving the Free Market a Fair Shake

"What I did, when I did it, was honest; now, through changed conditions, what I did may or may not be called honest. Politics demand, therefore, that I be brought to trial; but what is really being brought to trial is the system I represented."

-- Samuel Insull, co-founder of Edison General Electric

In 1881, a young English clerk named Samuel Insull sailed from England to America and took a low-paying job as a private secretary for a determined inventor named Thomas Edison. Insull worked hard, coming in before his boss in the morning and staying until long after Edison, who wasn't exactly lazy himself, had gone home at night.

Over time, Insull's hard work and loyalty did not go unnoticed. He was promoted several times, eventually winding up in charge of Edison's business affairs.

After twelve years absorbing as much knowledge as he could, Insull finally left to pursue his own American dream. He moved to Chicago, took out a personal loan for $250,000, and built the largest power plant in the world.

At the time, electricity was like private jets are today -- grossly expensive and available only to those who don't spend much time worrying about their bank account. But Insull had a dream that electricity could be produced on a much larger scale and used by the masses. By developing revolutionary ideas, like variable pricing and inexpensive home wiring, he turned electricity from a luxury into a virtual commodity.

Before long, Insull's new company was servicing over ten million customers in 32 states and had a market value of over $3 billion (somewhere around $66 billion in today's dollars, which is about the size of Amazon.com and Kraft Foods, combined). Insull also benefited personally. At one point, his net worth was estimated to be $100 million. Time magazine even celebrated his success by putting him on their cover in 1929. He was a true American success story -- a foreigner with virtually nothing to his name who had made it big through hard work and innovation.

Then the world changed.

As the Roaring Twenties morphed into the Great Depression, Insull's business struggled. The debt and equity he'd financed his company's growth with had become virtually worthless, leaving over a million middle-class Americans who'd invested in his stock in financial straits. The public outrage was palpable.

In the matter of a few short years Insull had gone from hero to villain; from the poster boy for everything great about American capitalism to the poster boy for everything wrong with it.

The government, seizing on the public's fury over their lost wealth, charged him with fraud, and though he was acquitted at trial, it didn't matter -- the damage was done. Insull was the most hated man in America, the Dick Cheney of the 1930s -- and all he'd done to deserve it was to build a remarkable company that, like so many others, suffered during the Depression.

In 1938, Samuel Insull, who'd fled America for France (oh the irony), died of a heart attack in a Paris subway station. He had eight cents in his pocket. It was a sad and lonely ending for a man who exemplified the American dream by bringing affordable electricity to millions.

Like O. J. Simpson, our free-market system seems to be put on trial at regular intervals. People love it until it stops working the way they think it should. Then it becomes the villain.

Wall Street was loved; then it was hated. Alan Greenspan was idolized; then he was demonized. People envied those who flew in private jets; then they despised them. It's amazing how quickly opinions can change, especially when people are looking to blame someone else for their problems.

The truth is that capitalism is neither good nor evil, it just is. Capitalism can't get you a job, a bigger house, or a better retirement -- you have to do all of those things for yourself. But what capitalism can do is foster an environment where those with the will to succeed have a better chance of achieving their dreams.

Do hardworking people still fall through the cracks? Absolutely. Are there peaks and valleys as excesses in markets are worked out over time? No doubt. But I defy anyone to show me another system that has done as much to quickly raise the standard of living and quality of life of a country as capitalism has for America.

You can't, because it doesn't exist.

In 1949, someone who worked minimum wage over the summer would have enough money to buy the following items from that year's Sears' catalogue:

A Smith-Corona typewriter; Argus 21 35mm camera; Silvertone AM-FM table radio; and Silvertone 3-speed phonograph.

In 2009, that same person, working the same number of hours at minimum wage, would now be able to purchase:

A Dell laptop computer; HP color ink printer, scanner, copier; Canon 8 megapixel digital camera; portable GPS system; 32" LCD HDTV television; 8GB iPod Nano; GE microwave; Haier refrigerator/freezer; Toshiba DVD/VCR combo; RCA home theater system; Uniden cordless phone; RCA AM/FM radio; Camcorder; Sony PlayStation 2; and about seven other things, but I think you get the point: Capitalism promotes innovation and competition -- two ingredients necessary for producing things that get progressively better even as they also get progressively cheaper.

The truth is that a minimum-wage worker in America is still one of the wealthiest people in the world. Does that preclude us from trying to make things even better? Absolutely not -- but those who favor throwing away the system that made us the envy of the world are either dangerously naive or they have an agenda. You can probably identify which group they belong to by whether they make idiotic arguments like...

"YOUR PRECIOUS FREE-MARKET CAPITALISM HAS FAILED."

Capitalism hasn't failed, greed has failed.

Think about it like this: You're a doctor with 50 sick patients, all of whom have the exact same symptoms: 20 of your patients are women, the rest are men. Ten of your patients are Asian, 5 are Arab, 5 are Mexican, 5 are African-American, and the rest are Caucasian. They have varying hair colors and are all different heights and weights. Some smoke and drink, some do neither.

In other words, these fifty people seem to have nothing in common, yet they all have the same disease.

Look around the world right now -- virtually every country is sick. Communists, socialists, capitalists, and everything in between, it doesn't matter -- the global recession infected everyone. Yet we look at all of these countries, with all of their different styles of government and different views on economic freedom, and we come to one nonsensical conclusion: Capitalism has failed.

How can that be possible? The only thing those countries have in common is that they all fell victim to the idea that returns could be had without risk. Or, to put it another way, they all succumbed to greed.

If you could trace the economic crisis back to one seminal event, you'd probably point the finger at the collapse of the U.S. housing market. But was that collapse triggered by a failure of capitalism, or by an abuse of it by the government?

Under true free-market capitalism, the government would have no involvement in homeownership whatsoever. They wouldn't encourage it through artificially low interest rates, Fannie and Freddie, tax breaks, or a "Community Reinvestment Act," but they wouldn't discourage it either. Rates would be set by market participants, based on risk, reward, and a clear understanding that making bad loans would result in bankruptcy.

But we've done the complete opposite of that. The housing market is manipulated by the government every step of the way. So while some may argue that we need more regulation to prevent these future "excesses," I would argue that it's the existing regulations that created those excesses in the first place. In other words, what has failed isn't the idea of free markets, it's the idea that a market can be free when it's run by an increasingly activist government.

"SURE, IT'S ALWAYS THE GOVERNMENT'S FAULT. LET'S PLAY YOUR LITTLE GAME AND GET THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF EVERYTHING -- WHO WILL HELP THE POOR? WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO TAKE CARE OF OUR WEAKEST, AND ONLY THE GOVERNMENT CAN FILL THAT ROLE."

Great, we (kind of) agree on something! "We" do have an obligation to help...but I think I have a different definition of "we" than you do.

The kind of capitalism that has failed is "soulless capitalism," because success without compassion results in greed and excess -- and we had plenty of both. But that soullessness didn't come out of nowhere, it was bred by a government that continually tries to step in to do the jobs that individual Americans should be responsible for.

We have never solved problems efficiently from the top down; we solve them from the bottom up. In countries with strong central governments, the people with the money and power are the politicians instead of the businessmen. Are those politicians selfless and charitable? Of course not, they're greedy and corrupt -- and the poor are even worse off than they are here.

My point is that capitalism itself is just a vehicle -- we're the drivers. Any economic system will inevitably fail if individuals stop caring about the welfare of others. But which economic system is more likely to drive people out of poverty, one that cherishes the slogan "from rags to riches" or one that aims to help the poor via government bureaucracy? If you're struggling to answer that, consider what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Less than one month after the hurricane, private donations surpassed the $1 billion mark, most of which went to private aid organizations that quickly provided relief. Meanwhile, FEMA handed out $6.3 billion in taxpayer money, with nearly a ... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


More About the Author

Glenn Beck, a nationally syndicated radio host and founder of TheBlaze, is the author of eleven #1 bestselling books: An Inconvenient Book, Glenn Beck's Common Sense, Arguing with Idiots, The Christmas Sweater and The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book, The Overton Window, Broke, The 7, The Original Argument, Cowards and Control. His other bestselling books include Miracles and Massacres, Agenda 21, The Real America, The Snow Angel and Being George Washington. Beck is also the publisher of Mercury Ink, a publishing imprint (www.mercuryink.com) that, in conjunction with Simon & Schuster, released the #1 bestselling young adult series Michael Vey.

Glenn can be found on the web at www.glennbeck.com and www.theblaze.com.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#47 in Books > History
#47 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

The percentage of people that go bankrupt as a result of healthcare costs is not mentioned.
Mike Hellmann
The format is great, the book is a page turner and Beck presents information, as usual, very well.
Jakey D
If you THINK you know the answers, I guarantee you will reconsider after reading Beck's book.
A. J. Southard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Page W. Brousseau on September 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
I just finished listening to the audio adaptation of this book, and it was absolutely hilarious. Beck seems to be one of those people that you either love or hate and this book won't make much of a difference, but I for one, do like his humor.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By MrQuincy on December 9, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I first heard of Glenn Beck back in 2004, somehow stumbling across him on talk radio. I found his show to be quite hilarious(that moron calling segment was classic).

I didn't get to listen to him often, but I remember being entertained.

So the other day I was shopping for Christmas presents and came across this audio book. What's another gift going to hurt? A gift to me, from me that is.

Pros:

+ I found it to be very informative. The historical events presented were factual in nature. You can feel confident that your fact checking will line up.
+ I found his opinions to be informative as well. The evidence he uses (to base his opinions on) is solid.
+ It's full of Glenn's humor. I definitely laughed a bit.
+ This book has a great "independent" feel to it. It doesn't sound like partisan rubbish.

Cons:

- I found a few portions of the book to be boring.
- There's a lot of information crammed into one book. Your brain might hurt a little.
- You probably won't enjoy it if you're a fan of big government.

The few portions I found to be boring were limited. In fact, I "read" this book in a record amount of time. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you will too.

**Also, if you're one of those people who's only heard negative things about Glenn Beck then you should definitely get this book. Judge for yourself and don't let others judge for you.**
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932 of 1,362 people found the following review helpful By Frank J. Konopka VINE VOICE on September 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
During the Middle Ages, it was somewhat common for religious arguments to be presented in written form. This format usually involved two characters, each with a different point of view. There would be questions or statements by one character which were refuted by the other character, who was a stand-in for the author's belief. With this book, Glenn Beck has revived an old format for a new age.

The book is divided into ten chapters, each one covering a single topic, and there are questions which are responded to by Beck's character. In addition, there are also little side comments, sometimes called "A.D.D. Moments" and sometimes direct quotes by people Beck doesn't agree with, said quotes putting those people in the worst possilbe light.

Love him or hate him (there appears to be no middle ground) Beck wirtes cogently (if often humorously) and well. He states his point of view on one subject and then moves on to another. Beck claims that he is a Libertarian rather than either a Democrat or a Rebublican, but I'm sure liberal readers (if there are any who actually finish this book) will be coinvinced that Beck is just another member of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" to quote Hillary Clinton at the beginning of the Monica fiasco. I don't know what he is, because he takes almost as many shots at the GOP as he does at the Dems, so I'll take him at his word about his party leanings.

Beck is conservative in the sense that he opposes "big government" and what he calls the "Nanny State", which is one that hovers over just about every aspect of American life. He fears that we are going into that situation, and there are enough signs around (for those who want to recognise them) that he might (just might) be correct.
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281 of 413 people found the following review helpful By K. Ako on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I like this book only because it presents an alternate perspective that is extremely uncommon in media today. I consider myself a classical liberal that will listen to all perspectives and parse out the propaganda from the truth if possible. I LOVE THE LUXURY OF FREE SPEECH. Trashing others because they have a different opinion without proper debate exposes a narrow mind. Arguing with personal insults and slogans is NOT proper debate. I see this in previous reviews of this book. I'm especially irked by this because I am Chinese American & I've heard from my older relatives that this was what the Maoists did in the Cultural Revolution. This is a really dangerous way to go & I wish people would refrain from such barbaric behavior.

This book does coverage on political issues and does cite references that are difficult to find in the local newspapers or national magazines. In fact I've noticed that many of the news articles in my local newspaper (e.g. from AP, etc.) will omit key facts in news coverage. In my own independent spot checks on facts, this book is much more correct than it is incorrect! It's not because Glenn Beck is such a great journalist. Its because the news media is doing such a lousy job in journalism. Even amateurs are better than 'professional' journalists with an agenda to shape the political will of their readers. There is a difference between objective journalism & suave propaganda. Readers have to work to discern the difference.

It's unfortunate that books like Arguing With Idiots is needed just to get an alternate view for a balanced perspective. It takes a lot of discipline to be well informed today. Bottom line: Buy this book.
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