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Showing 1-10 of 16 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 58 reviews
on February 19, 2017
Thomas Frank tells the truth about the RW Garbage who are ruining our country --- including the Orange Illiterate.
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on May 30, 2016
Fans of Thomas Frank might be disappointed with this book, the precursor to Kansas. One Market is smart, detailed and there is no shortage of Frank's wit and insight but the book is also a long, slow and tedious accounting of who said what and when. I gave up by chapter three.
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VINE VOICEon July 20, 2005
There is a new conventional wisdom being constructed in the last few decades that we have finally reached the culmination of economic theory and all that's left is to tune the machine. The ultimate realization of western perfection is pure free market Capitalism. The villains of the scenario are unions, intellectuals, environmentalists and government regulators who gum up the wheels of progress. Fueling the market engine is relentless optimism and there are few superlatives too vicious to be cast on those who express doubt. CEO's are hard working heroes moving the engine while blue collar workers are parasites sucking away needed capital. As George Lakoff would say this is the construction of a Frame, attempting to move from concept to common knowledge. Frames are powerful indeed and most people if given a choice between retaining a Frame or accepting new contrary evidence will keep the Frame and throw out the evidence. Leaving no doubt about his opinion on the matter Thomas Frank declares, "the New Economy is a fraud". It's a Vox Populi where billionaires are victimized by `elitist' union workers and the crime de jour is political correctness.

A lot has happened since `One Market, Under God' was published including that little market correction in 2000. Thanks to bad timing Thomas Frank's book sets up the joke but misses out on the punch line when all those hip gen-X investors watched their brand new fortunes go up in smoke. However, the book is timely enough to point out that during the heyday of the bull market real wages went down, jobs became less secure and downsizing became fashionable for CEO's who want a quick stock pop. It also seems clear that a system that can be done in by mere pessimism is built on a very shaky foundation. There is a `New Afterword' chapter that gives Thomas Frank a chance to offer up some post 2000 commentary. In the end it became painfully clear that companies, auditors and analysts were all working against the best interest of the small investor. The market was to be the new means for wealth redistribution as everyone had access to the market money tree but when the chips were cashed in the wealth disparity in America grew beyond anything seen in the last 70 years.

"One Market, Under God" chronicles just about every pro-business, pro-globalization propaganda ad released in the 90's as well as the endless stream of articles in business magazines praising the new paradigm. Mr. Franks takes a critical look at the often silly, bordering on pseudoscientific, marketing theories that were being expounded. Unfortunately the book sometimes degenerates into one long sarcastic sneer aimed at all things business. There are no heroes of the book just manipulators, fools and greedy CEO's. Thomas Frank's later book, `What's the Matter with Kansas' was one of the best social commentaries I've ever read so I felt a bit disappointed with this one. Still, it's a fascinating look at how society can be manipulated and swept up into a frenzy of greed to the point where we give up our own self interests.
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VINE VOICEon July 10, 2001
Fundamentally this book is about the efforts of the business class and adjunct spokespersons to control the public's perception of business entities and the workings of the marketplace. Of equal concern to the author is the puncturing of that self-serving business agenda.
The author ranges widely among a variety of pundits, gurus, columnists, academics, and businessmen in the areas of finance, various media including the Internet, management theory, cultural studies, advertising, and corporations to capture the ascendancy of business-market thinking in the public arena during the 90s. He finds a remarkable convergence in their thought, which he subsumes under the rubric of "market populism," which emphatically holds that markets and even workplaces are no longer the provinces of the powerful and well-placed but now operate according to the dictates and in the interests of the common man.
Those theorists shrewdly redefine familiar political terms; the primary location for democratic activity is now said to reside in the workings of the marketplace. The consumer replaces the citizen. The average man makes his will known not through voting for a legislative agenda but via consumerism and investing in the stock market on-line. In fact it is only antidemocratic elitism that attempts to regulate or counter market forces. Populism and the labor movement no longer serve the interests of the working class in this new era of market populism. Wholesale firings euphemistically tagged as downsizing are opportunities for workers to assert their power with future employers. The huge upward redistribution of wealth via the stock market in the 90s is overwhelmed with a focus on dot-com millionaires, nice-guy billionaires, or "Fool," everyman investors.
As others have noted the book can be a bit tedious with the author revisiting many of the free-market theorists chapter after chapter. Also, in focusing on what these gurus have to say, it is unclear as to the extent of the penetration of market populism ideas into the masses. The author does mention the diminished status of journalists, of course because they are elitists, and newspapers but the ability and efforts of the media to control information in accordance with market populism dictates is not particularly well explored.
The Right always likes to claim that it is the Left that is ideologically driven. It is claimed that the marketplace is ideologically neutral - the very essence of freedom. But this book skewers that notion. Now the market is a propaganda tool. Markets empower all equally; power dynamics simply disappear.
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on July 14, 2016
Frank at his best.
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This is a very serious book, one that any candidate for President would do well to read, especially so the centrist candidates willing to announce that both the Democratic and Republican parties have sold the public into slavery to corporate fascism.

In summary, the author documents in detail how the Reagan Revolution, and especially the firing of the air traffic controllers and the wrongful use of military air traffic controllers as "union busting" scabs, eliminated the counter-vailing force of labor unions, at the same time that government deregulated and abdicated its responsibility for a social safety net, the media converted into advertising with a "news hole," and corporations lost all moral and social standards.

He deconstructs the "New Economy" in persuasive detail and caused me to re-evaluate some of my earlier readings, especially of Kevin Kelly and others in the WIRED generation who articulate with blind faith the democratic value of the network, but fail to see, as Robert Samuelson and this author would have us understand, that outsourcing is union busting, and the actual effect of the network has been to make it possible for corporations to outsource middle class jobs while importing poverty through illegal immigration. The net loser is the Nation, because one of its most important sources of national power, an educated engaged citizenry, is being sold short.

The author is brutally on target when he points out that corporations have achieved a slight of hand in disconnecting labor from the value of created wealth, claiming much more management value (to the point that CEOs make 400 to 1000 times what their workers make, up from 25 times long ago). He also points out that the democratization of the stock market is code for what Mark Lewis called, in "Liar's Poker," "exploding the client. The smart money rides the early surge and then sells out to the middle class dreamers, who end up losing 80-90% of their value over time.

I have a note in the flyleaf that this book is "quite extraordinary, almost breathtaking in scope, with a compelling array of well-ordered facts."

Overall, while many will not like the term "corporate fascism" and the author prefers to use "extreme capitalism" while others discuss immoral and predatory capitalism, or "class war" (see my review of Faux's "The Global Class War" and, somewhat less solid but still good, Pabast's "Armed Madhouse" (dispatches from the front lines of the global class war). The sorry reality is that Americans have been lulled to sleep like sheep for a slaughter, and do not seem to appreciate the fact that there has been a MASSIVE theft of public capital through what this author calls "the Wall Street tax" on America.

The greatest strength of the book is how the author documents the calculated and comprehensive manner in which Wall Street and the evangelical right came together to turn reality on its head, and persuade everyone including blue collar workers that it was okay to break the social contract with labor, and that what is good for Wall Street is good for America and its workers. In fact, as the author points out repeatedly, when workers get laid off, Wall Street stocks go up. His entire review reminds one of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's classic "Manufacturing Consent." Public relations has been used in a classic manner by American corporations, to include penetration of teen-age sub-cultures and the manipulation of teen-age desires. In Europe they consider public relations to be, according to this author, advanced corporate lying.

The author draws an excellent connection between the "blind faith" that keeps the corporate illusion of free trade on the table, and the "blind faith" that led Dick Cheney to depose George Bush and invade Iraq without regard to the policy process, accountability, or reality. America is in the grip of a very destructive combination of corporate ideology, religious ideology, and political ideology.

The author is properly and comprehensively critical of the media for failing to do its job. Journalists, a few exceptions aside, have become "filler." The author excels at picking Tom Friedman apart, and at mocking the Wall Street Journal for idiocy in print.

The book ends on a sobering note, where the author points out that reality has a way of unmasking ideological pretensions in a most painful manner. He specifically suggests that George Bush Junior (he does not mention Cheney) will go the way of Herbert Hoover in the history books. Reality--that's what one White House staffer is reported to have said had no relevance, because this White House "creates its own reality." Yes it does--a reality of greed and theft and immorality at the top, poverty and disease at the bottom, and a loss of American honor around the world.

First class thinking and writing. A really strong book.
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on October 9, 2005
Frank is right on the money, no doubt about it. "Free-markets" and democracies aren't the same thing. Even the freest of markets can be bought, whereas democracies can't be...or can they?

He documents the creepy cultural trends that have made us accept the marketplace as our ersatz democracy, why we've given up on the real version, and whom these trends really serve.

Is modern culture really a tool used by the powers that be to undo the New Deal? It makes sense.

I say this in the full knowledge that Frank devotes an entire chapter to my profession, in "The Brand and the Intellectual". When I finished reading it, I thought, "I deserved that!"
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on April 26, 2001
I enjoyed reading the book, but found it to be terribly overstated at times. Frank is dead on with his message that economic democracy is not plutocracy, and that plutocracy was exactly the system that conservative and even centrist circles in the United States have been trying to get us to accept for some time. However, as a social critique the book overreaches and badly at that. As a critic of the "culture industry," and reading many of the same publications that his cited articles and op-eds appeared in (and usually loathing the same authors), I do not see the propaganda tidal wave that he did. On this note, the book is propaganda about propaganda - entertaining, but to be looked at with a very skeptical eye.
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on April 11, 2002
While I disagree with Thomas Frank a lot, I am forced to admit that there is more than a grain of truth in his criticism. At times polemic, other times ranting, sometimes he just says something that blows away a lot of the "conventional wisdom" that we are fed and many times accept.
The largest strength of this book is not that it offers any sort of alternative (It really doesn't), it is that he is criticizing things that need to be criticized. Over the last 20 years or so, critical writing and commentary has lapsed, and offered little voice of reform or change. It is nice to see that someone offers dissent to many cultural values that have become solidified and crusty (even if it is at 90+dB).
In an age of blind faith in "The Market" there is a voice of skepticism in Thomas Frank's _One Market Under God_. If you are a God fearing, Capitalist-loving, Market Driven, person, this book may be especially valuable to read -- if for no other reason, to hear from someone who disagrees with you and has no fear in stating it clearly!
I disagree with a lot of his thesis, but I cannot give this book anything less than 5 stars!
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on October 14, 2013
Market populism: Once you've seen it, you can't not see it. Market populism is at least eleventy times more common than socialism in our society, but the idea is so prevalent that it's invisible: "A fish is not aware of water." I have yet to hear someone say, "That guy is a market populist," or "That's just market populism," or "Those Republicans are just a bunch of market populists." But he is, and it is, and they are, and that's not good. What to do?

As with all the Thomas Frank books I've read thus far -- and I plan to read them all -- this book is true, accurate, fact-checkable, bankable...and really, really depressing. I do not see America walking away from this idea any time soon.
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