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Interesting Approach - Doesn't Go Far Enough
on November 19, 2013
Hubbard and Kane’s book starts out strong. They propose a thesis about the fiscal threat to American power and develop it by explaining it in hard number terms. They review most of the standard declinism literature and find it wanting versus their more empirical approach. Their discussion of how to measure economic power is worthwhile whether you agree or disagree with anything else in the book.
However, when they turn to their case studies things start to get less precise. The case studies (Rome, China,Spain, etc) are presented fairly enough and anyone who has read similar studies will recognize most of the points being made. My complaint with this approach is that they are following the descriptive method they complained about earlier without adding anything new to the standard analysis. For example, the concept of centralized bureaucracy. If you identify that one of the issues that led to a fiscal decline was a too centralized bureaucracy, how would you count it? Is there a tipping point where the percentage of the elite class being employed by the government becomes too much? This would be something to try to quantify if you are attempting a more empirical approach to this subject.
By the time we get to the end of the book and begin discussing the current US situation, along with the authors proscription, there is not much different than any other political opinion piece. A book that I felt started out with high promise, in the end disappointed.
References, notes, and index all top rate.