The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too
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The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  215 ratings  ·  27 reviews
The cult of the free market has dominated economic policy-talk since the Reagan revolution of nearly thirty years ago. Tax cuts and small government, monetarism, balanced budgets, deregulation, and free trade are the core elements of this dogma, a dogma so successful that even many liberals accept it. But a funny thing happened on the bridge to the twenty-first century. Wh...more
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Published June 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published August 5th 2008)
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Bart
This is a wonderful contribution to the world’s current reevaluation of free-market ideology and should be read by anyone with sufficient intellectual dexterity to have looked at 9/18/08 and said, I was completely wrong about everything I heretofore believed about capitalism; I think I’ll have a second go at the subject.

This is also a dense book. Despite weighing-in at barely 200 pages, this book takes a while to read. Galbraith is unsparing in a general overestimation of his readership’s fluenc...more
Weavre
ILL: Luzerne doesn't have it.

BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
What should we do with a free market that's really a rigged market?

James K. Gailbrath has some answers.

James K Gailbrath: "Today, the signature of modern American capitalism is neither benign competition, nor class struggle, nor an inclusive middle-class utopia. Instead, predation has become the dominant feature — a system wherein the rich have come to feast on decaying systems built for the middle class. The predatory class is not th...more
Frank
Brilliant, provocative book. Galbraith shows that most "pro-market" rhetoric is meaningless. The corporations, oligarchs, and laissez-faire apologists who deploy it conveniently ignore the myriad ways state action strengthens their own grip on power.

Given the recent financial meltdown and the bonus-enabling bailout, the book is very topical. Chapter Seven on inequality is particularly insightful, essentially rendering irrelevant much of the interminable economists' debate over the causes of ineq...more
Todd Martin
In “The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too” economist James K. Galbraith argues that the economic principles of an unfettered free market, developed and put into practice 30 years ago by conservatives during the Reagan administration, have been proven to be a complete failure in practice and have all but been abandoned by conservatives outside of academic circles. As such, he argues that liberals should stop parroting disproven market theories...more
Converse

James K. Galbraith, the son of the more famous (or infamous) John Kenneth Galbraith and a professor at the University of Texas, wrote this short book about economics and economic policy towards the end of George W. Bush's presidency. His approach to the topic is certainly different from what the other books, aimed at the general reader, take towards the subject. It was interesting to see a different point of view which seems to have a certain logic to it.

Probably his most contentious claim a

...more
Simon Wood
THE FREE MARKET DELUSION

Hereditary Economists? Sounds a dubious proposition but J.K.Galbraith the second has written a stimulating, provocative book that is easily up to his fathers standards. "The Predator State" is a book of two halves; the first section is somewhat pedestrian in pace, generally interesting and occasionally confusing. The second and third sections see Galbraith up a couple of gears and in a relatively short space makes his case against what he regards as the reigning model fo...more
Miriam Axel-lute
Jul 24, 2009 Miriam Axel-lute rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who cares about politics/economics/things not falling apart
Recommended to Miriam by: Rebecca

I will have much more to say on this book in an upcoming column. Suffice it to say that if I could insist that the president read just one book, any book, it would be this one.

I have critiques sure — early on it could use either more technical backing up, or more layperson-friendly walking through.

But it's so incredibly refreshing to have a decidedly capitalist, non-radical economically trained someone call such thorough bullshit on the "but we have to let the markets decide" excuse for everythi...more
Ray
Galbraith's book "The Predator State" didn't make a great audio book. It's got depth and details, and you really need to take the time to pause and understand what he's presenting, i.e., to put the book down and think about his statements. Otherwise, it's just background noise, and you find you're not really absorbing what he's talking about. If the subject grabs you, I suggest you pick up the print (or e-book) version, and put some time aside to absorb it. As an audio book, unless you've got an...more
Steven Percifield
A self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, I chose to read this book with an admittedly "know your enemy" attitude.

Not surprisingly (considering he is the son of his famous (or infamous) father) I found much of what Galbraith said to be anathema to my predispositions.

What was surprising: I found myself to be in agreement with him many, many times.

Even though he seems to be a "big government" liberal, his concerns over concentrations of power being a threat to our concepts of freedom struck a chor...more
Jrobertus
This is a boring book; we read it for a UU book group or I would never have started it , let alone finish it. Galbraith is the son of JK Galbraith, and a UT Austin prof. His main idea is that "conservatives" have given up fighting big government and to take it over, subvert it, and use it to suck money from the taxpayers. He may well be right, but the writing is still turgid and opaque.
Ron
May 08, 2009 Ron rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bill Evan, Evan Feinman, Tim Geithner
Superb overview of the underlying assumptions which have led us astray economically -- completely blows the doors off the current thinking of "conservative - free market" pundits and pols (both republican and democratic). A must read follow up to his Dad's classic book on the Industrial State of the 1960's. Virtually no math -- just clear and peircing analytics that are easy to understand.
Jonathan
90% sure 75% or so of the first 40% of this went over my head –– what exactly did I do in college? –– but the final 33 1/3% was roughly 80% comprehensible and actually persuasive in its way a good 65% of the time.
Enjoyable Fact: Galbraith père spoke at one of my own father's numerous graduation ceremonies and the old man was thoroughly unimpressed.
Ed
only half way through but intriguing book that is a bit heavy on economics to start with but it's major thesis that the US is nowhere near a free market economy with over 50% of GDP in non market forces hands and its time to get real about this is compelling. We live in a delusional state!
Catherine Pierce
Professor Galbraith offers a refreshing summary of US economic history since the 1970s. He takes apart the mythology of free market capitalism by exposing widely-held misconceptions. I was riveted and could not put it down. It is worth reading again and again.
Shawn
This was a serious slog, that I haven't really completed, which is sad because it is so short. He starts off so far to the left that only extremists will probably get past chapter three, which is when he starts to try to really say something.
Laura
Okay, I tried. There are no charts and graphs, but the text is still too dry to read for extended periods. I have to admit that I skimmed a lot of what was written - interesting in parts, but snooze-worthy in others.
Matthew
Very accessible. I liked it because it reinforced my already strong belief that we need to change the terms of economic debate away from the false free-market-vs-socialism dichotomy and toward data-based reality.
Erik
A very good book on modern political-economic corruption and some interesting ideas on what to do about it. I wish every single American would read half of what's in this.
Lee
Argues for the bankruptcy of conservative economics and provides a liberal alternative that is less awed by the magical hand of the market. A good primer for our times.
Christopher Mitchell
Excellent discussion tackling good economics and discredited economics, good for those who think all economics is bullshit. Learn to separate the good from the bad.
Mark
I can't remember when I read a book that changed my thinking about economic matters more than this one. I'm ready to read it again already.
Dodey
I only got about half way through and had to stop. Just way too dry for me - I'm not much of a policy wonk I guess.
Steve
Does for free markets what atheism does for religion: proves that the concept itself is virtually useless.
Rob Field
Calls for a critical re-evaluation of neo-classical orthodoxy.
frank santoyo
still engaged in this telling book.
Mark
stayed home today and finished James K. Galbraith's The Predator State. Galbraith does not have the sharp wit of his father, or the rhetorical skill, and his work is sometimes more confusing than illuminating. The Predator State is a book that attempts to bust some free-market myths and demonstrate how economic planning can and should be done to ensure America's economic future. There are some wild assertions, a few of which are never supported, but the argument is generally thought-provoking an...more
Carl-johan Enström
Carl-johan Enström marked it as to-read
Aug 28, 2014
Jorge Gómez
Jorge Gómez marked it as to-read
Aug 28, 2014
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