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Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever Hardcover – March 8, 2016
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"If you want to understand the upset that is occurring in American politics, you need to read Lawrence Lindsey’s new book.... Immensely valuable."
"Good bedside reading for the Republican primaries.... Lindsey offers a spirited overview of the Constitution's assertion that the preservation of liberty is the only reason for government's existence, as well as thoughtful critiques regarding government waste and fraud and the bureaucratic nightmares made possible by overregulation."
- Kirkus Reviews
"Powerful.... Lindsey’s book reminds us that we need to work to break the power grab of our current leaders and replace them with real leaders and statesmen."
- Point of View
“Lindsey readily acknowledges that he was—and in many ways remains—a member of that class. Nevertheless, he argues fluidly and forcefully against it….Lindsey goes well beyond complaints and criticisms, offering a remarkably detailed plan to diminish the power of the ruling class.”
- City Journal
About the Author
Lawrence B. Lindsey’s career has spanned government, business, and academia. He served under three presidents: Ronald Reagan, as senior staff economist for tax policy at the Council of Economic Advisors; George H.W. Bush, as Special Assistant for Domestic Economic Policy; and George W. Bush, as Director of the National Economic Council. He was a professor at Harvard from 1985 to 1989, governor of the Federal Reserve from 1991 to 1997, managing director of the consulting group Economic Strategies from 1997 to 2001, and has been CEO of The Lindsey Group, a global consulting firm, since 2003. He is the author of Conspiracies of the Ruling Class.
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Top Customer Reviews
He gets many things right: America is “a nation where laws and law enforcement are used against the public instead of for them.” Today, police seize more cash and assets (and keep it for themselves) than is lost through robberies. Nobody admires that America. Another is that Congress needs to regain control of rulemaking. It passes a law and lets agencies and corporates take years to come up with regulations for themselves, which is absurd. Congress actually does not have the right to give up that power, he says. And term limits would put an end to careerists and a lot of the corruption. He is also very much in favor ending the gaming of the system, such as “extenders” that pretend programs only run for one year, avoiding the necessity of finding offsetting savings. Interestingly for a libertarian, he likes the structure of the expert-filled and totally independent Federal Reserve.
Oddly, the only constitutional amendment Lindsey proposes is to permit anyone to hold any currency in the world, as long as we’re not at war with its country. While we can do that now anyway, he says the government could stop it at will, as it did in the 1933 Depression. With all the things he says are wrong with the government, it is puzzling this is the only constitutional amendment we need to fix it. And unfortunately, it misses the reality of money. Money issued by the Fed amounts to less than 6% of the dollars in the world. Banks create money at will, inventing and selling new products like derivatives that barely exist on paper, and are most certainly not backed by anyone. It is out of control, just like the Ruling Class.
For Lindsey, the ideal presidential candidate is “philosophically populist and operationally libertarian.” Sadly, there are no such candidates available, and no party would nominate one. Harry Truman, our last president with just a high school education, couldn’t even get an interview today. Dwight Eisenhower would be booed off the stage as not sufficiently rightwing.
Where Conspiracies goes wrong is in assuming the Ruling Class is “Progressive” (Democrat). All the bad presidents seem to be Democrats. He portrays Richard Nixon as a victim, sadly enfeebled by Watergate. But Thomas Frank points out in his own excellent attack on Democrats, Listen, Liberal:, both parties have restructured as Ruling Classes. The Democrats are all “Professional Creatives”, highly educated millionaire techie job creators from Harvard, Yale or Stanford. Their single theme is get more education and you will succeed - but we can’t help you. The Republicans covet bootstrap, less educated millionaire job creators from large corporations. Their theme is you alone are responsible for your success, so get to it - because we can’t help you. When running for office they all sound populist; it’s all jobs, values and leveling inequality. In office, they revert to type, limiting personal rights, invading privacy, expanding government and giving corporations new subsidies and influence. The reason Americans hardly vote any more is that they know, no matter how many voters agree on an issue, their elected officials will without fail ignore them.
That is the real conspiracy of the Ruling Class.
After reminding us of the U.S. Constitution’s unique focus on guaranteeing individual freedoms and then providing some specific examples of how Progressive politicians and policies have treaded upon U.S. citizens’ liberty, Lindsey proposes “philosophically populist and operationally libertarian,” as a policy formula to reverse the trend of government encroachment upon citizens’ rights. He gives examples of what this formula might look like when applied to healthcare, immigration, the tax code, budgets, and term limits. These prescriptions are developed and presented clearly enough so that high school students preparing to participate in a “model Congress” could grasp them.
Nowhere does Lindsey excel more in this exercise, than in the area of monetary policy and Federal Reserve reform. This is his particular expertise; he’s served as a senior economic advisor to the Reagan and both Bush presidencies. His chapter on U.S. monetary policy includes an excellent history of the “Fed” which goes a long way toward demystifying and demythologizing that institution. The “modest proposal” he makes for a constitutional amendment that would never again allow any branch or organ of government to restrict Americans from using mediums of exchange other than U.S. dollars as legal tender (FDR did this in 1933) is a clear, interesting, and helpful example of his philosophical populism and operational libertarianism.
Yet, this highlight chapter will also draw one of my criticisms. Lindsey, in describing the mechanics of monetary policy that contributed to the stock and housing bubbles of 2000 and 2008, could have spent some time explaining exactly how market actors have historically (eventually) reacted to overpriced assets, and how those reactions hurt people. An Economics student may not need that spelled out, but Lindsey’s omission here means that an interested layperson may not be left with enough dots to connect to completely appreciate the power of Lindsey’s suggested corrective action. I also think Lindsey’s excellent analysis could have been even more convincing had he spent some time warning us of the potential downsides of his recommended approach, which (in my view) are cosmetic/emotional in nature and could largely be avoided through better consumer/investor education. Then again, it is the emotional and “imperfect information” components that make markets interesting, unpredictable and therefore potentially dangerous. All the more reason to want more from Lindsey here.
I read “Conspiracies of the Ruling Class” on the heels of Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” in which Murray shows how America’s elites have segregated themselves from, and have lost touch with, the 98-99% of Americans whom they govern. Murray understands that “elites” are both Democrats and Republicans. Lindsey strikes a more partisan tone; he is going after Progressive Liberals as the bad guys. Nevertheless, Lindsey makes some excellent points that mesh well with Murray’s contribution. He explains that liberty, not democracy, is of ultimate value to the founding fathers’ America. Lindsey’s America is more than a country; America and the liberty promised by its Constitution, is a cause to which Progressives no longer subscribe. The book’s appearance in 2016 is timely; it is too early to know what the incoming administration’s actual stance on liberty will be, but if the soon-to-be inaugurated president acts to reign in Federal power while in office, this book will help to explain the wisest and most noble underpinnings of that approach.