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The Big Con: Crackpot Economics and the Fleecing of America
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The Big Con: Crackpot Economics and the Fleecing of America

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  221 ratings  ·  25 reviews
American politics has been hijacked. Over the past three decades, a fringe group of economic hucksters has corrupted and perverted our nation s policies. With dark, engaging wit, Jonathan Chait reveals how these canny zealots first took over the Republican Party and then gamed the political system and the media so that once unthinkable policies without a shred of academic, ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 3rd 2008 by Mariner Books (first published September 12th 2007)
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Don Munsil
This is the book to read if you want to understand supply-side economics. Well, perhaps you could read Wanniski's "The Way The World Works", but you might come away from that book assuming that supply-side economics actually works the way its proponents say it does.

Jonathan Chait absolutely thoroughly demolishes the intellectual underpinnings of supply-side economics, and provides a coherent and plausible account of how a theory that was proposed by people like Wanniski with no economics creden
While initially I thought I had read enough about the Republicanism's recent ascendancy and it's use of supply-side economics, this book gave me a break from the never ending onslaught of outrage I experience from the Bush administration. It was comforting to think of this all as a cohesive narrative and not just something that makes me cringe every time I hear a snippet from Bush or read about the latest sham the Republicans are trying to parade. Plus, it's a whole lot funnier to read stupid ju ...more
Mar 23, 2008 Christopher rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Liberals, Obamacans, communists, recovering Republicans. Also anyone interested in politics.
For someone raised in a conservative, Christian, Republican family, this book goes a long way in explaining the historical and cultural context behind why my feelings for George W. Bush border on loathing. Chait is a writer for The New Republic and so is clearly a liberal, but his argument is lucid. It presents at least "the other side" of the coin.
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Preaching to the choir in my case

This is not so much a review as a small assortment of comments. Disclaimer: I'm left-leaning, so I am inclined to agree with the author from the beginning. I'm sure that plenty of right-wing authors have books out that tell stories about liberals that sound every bit as scary as Chait's story does here about conservatives.

Perhaps what impressed me the most in this book was the allegation that the Republican Party in Washington has developed an extraordinary type
I thought this book was written after the Great Recession not before. It shows how shameless ultra-conservatives have taken over the Republican party and are railroading the United States into a path of economic destruction that will only benefit the top of the top 1%.

A great overview of our current situation but it offers little in solutions that common people can take. Reading these kinds of books just make me more and more anxious.
First - you don't have to be an economic guru to read this book. It will interest anyone wondering how we got in the bad economic situation we are in today, all Democrats, Republicans wondering what the hell happened to their political party, anyone interested in the upcoming election, and anyone who cares that future generations will have to pay up the wazoo for the tax cuts of today. The beginning and middle sections are scary indeed - especially when seeing the recent McCain pronouncements on ...more
Jonathan Chait does a great job of telling the history of GOP economic theory for the last 40 years. From the Laffer Curve drawn on a cocktail napkin, to Reagan's trickle-down-theory, to the current supply-side "tax cuts raise revenue" thinking, Chait shows how GOP thinking went off the rails.

The most remarkable thing about this book was that it was published in 2007 but is still spot on. The Great Recession of 2008 and the advent of the Tea Party have had zero influence on GOP talking points.

Emmett Hoops
Even though this book is a few years old, it is of lasting value because of its description of the transition in the Republican Party over the past 50 years. It's also an eviscerating indictment of supply-side economics; the author goes to great lengths, with success, to provide incontrovertible evidence of this theory's Potemkin village nature. Its presenters know it to be a sham, yet continue to propound the sanctity of Milton Friedman and all supply-siders, including, so they allege, St. Reag ...more
Ok, I should start by stating that "technically" I have not finished this book - but I will either tonight or tomorrow morning. For me, this was an educational book on how the Republican Party has taken an obscure and untested economic theory - basically cutting taxes - and promoted it to the point where millions of us Americans have either fallen into line in agreement or probably more likely never really looked at the realistic outcomes. However, if you are a Republican I highly suspect you wi ...more
Great information. This could really open people's eyes, but for one small failing. Chait often resorts to name-calling and emotional language, albeit boring approach could reach more people. What he's saying, though, is that political conservatives and liberals alike have shifted to the right in the past 30 years. Not only has there been a shift, there has also been a marked drop in analytical and critical thinking among the media. He gives ample news sources, lengthy quotes, and in-depth inter ...more
Seth the Zest
Few books have better helped me understand the peculiarities of American politics than this one has. I had wondered why most other industrialized nations felt that a mix of taxes and spending cuts were the answers to the fiscal crisis when this country flinches at the word "tax." I had known of Grover Norquist, of course, but it's more useful to understand how such a character could ever hold sway with a major political party.

The book manages to inform and entertain while discussing topics that
A good overview of the present stupidity we're mired in, for those unfamiliar with the neo - conartists who have hijacked this once great nation. For those of you who have been paying attention you won't find much new stuff here. I fact I feel that Chait in the interest, perhaps, of maintaining his credibility with the publishing cliques doesn't really go far enough. He could dig a little more for the historical roots of this dirt. But he does document the kind of crazy shit flying around in D.C ...more
Denis Kaufman
Should be read by anyone who wonders why the wingnuts didn't mind Bush spending our grandkids into poverty, but freak out when Obama suggests we raise taxes (a little) and increase spending to get us out of financial quicksand that we blundered into because Bush, Bush & Reagan led us there through slavish adherence to a nutty fiscal ideology (gasp). Actually Chait points out that the elder Bush tried to redress the damage done under Reagan and paid a frightful price in Republican circles.
I gave up reading the end of this - maybe I had just heard enough of the argument and I felt like a choir being preached to.

Lots of interesting (and true) interpretations of the Bush Regime's actions and the history that made it possible.
The infamous Laffer curve should be called the Laugher curve, but unfortunately that's not been the case. After all, it was written on a four-ply square of toilet paper, after cocktails.
Surfing Moose
I found it to be more balanced than other books I've read on the subject. Also I really did enjoy and found the history of the republican conservative movement quite insightful.
David Shank
Surprisingly readable discussion of the issues and problems with "supply-side" economics and how an unsupported economic theory is now driving republican part policy.
This is a must-read for every American. Even more relevant now that our tanking economy is proving the thesis of the book.
Great; but honestly the "acknowledgements" page is the truly moving part of the book.
Sean Chick
Great overview of how America is getting fucked in the ass by the right.
Really awesome so far. This is guy is like Paul Krugman, only wittier.
H Wesselius
A good overview of the American political situation.
Malcolm Pellettier
Grover Norquist really must pay.
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Jonathan Chait is a senior editor at The New Republic and a former assistant editor of The American Prospect. He also writes a periodic column in the Los Angeles Times.
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