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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time for a change of narrative!, February 7, 2011
This review is from: Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse (Hardcover)
This book is about US history, both recent and early. It is not a single narrative, but an anthology of topics. The unifying theme is that all topics discussed in the book have been used as pro-government propaganda, but Woods interprets them all very differently from the view most have heard. The robber barons, the George Bush bubble, the military industrial complex all have a place here.

Some interesting things I learned from this book:

Certainly the most eye-opening thing for me was the analysis of the military-industrial complex and how it diverts American engineers from working on useful projects. Even a "small" military budget of 4% of GDP can have a huge effect on the price of engineers. The "mere" 4% figure actually hides an enormous cost to the economy because of the number of engineers drawn away from useful work. The argument that so much innovation in industry comes ultimately out of the military seems a lot less convincing when you realize that American industry might have twice the number of engineers available if it were not for the military in the first place!

Woods argues persuasively that repealing the Glass-Stegal act was such a minor change that it had nothing to do with the 2008 crash. I had previously accepted the argument that this change worsened the crash because it "deregulated" banks while still guaranteeing them under FDIC. However, the US was the only country ever to separate investment and commercial banking as Glass-Stegal did, so there is no particular reason to think that this change could be the cause of the housing bubble.

Although the book is clearly marketed towards conservatives, you certainly aren't going to become more conservative when you read it. Rather, you will become more radically anti government. At the end of the book, Woods advocates not only nullification, but also secession, agorism, and the Free State Project! This would be a great book to give to some of your tea party friends, but I would recommend it to anyone who still believes government action rescued America from its social and economic problems in the past.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 5, 2011 11:14:47 PM PDT
Bruno says:
While it may not have directly led to the housing bubble burst and financial meltdown, I have to think that Glass-Steagal's repealing did cause banks to be able to take on risk that ultimately killed the economy. If you knew your bank was leveraging up sio much and had deposits there would you leave deposits there w/o FDIC protections? Look at Europe in 2011. They can't let Greek bondholders lose because those bondholders are banks!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2013 1:34:04 PM PDT
GRR DTOM says:
Yeah, without the federal reserve and other corrosive govt policy, like too big to fail, maybe the Glass Steagal would not have been that big a deal. But, with ZIRP and having no risk in speculative investment of cheap federal reserve largesse, the banks are free to lose trillions of our dollars. We end up paying for it, and they get bonuses for being evil geniuses. No one gets penalized, and they just go back to doing what they were doing before. Already today we see the big banks doing the same things they were doing leading up to 2008, and they hold so much political and financial power that no one will do anything about it and the media won't talk about it.
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