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Bad Samaritans

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,425 ratings  ·  151 reviews
"Bad Samaritans" was an introduction to open-minded economists and political free-thinkers to Ha-Joon Chang's theories of the dangers of free-trade. With irreverent wit, an engagingly personal style, and a keen grasp of history, Chang blasts holes in the "World Is Flat" orthodoxy of Thomas Friedman and others who argue that only unfettered capitalism and wide-open internat...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published July 5th 2007)
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Randal Samstag
Ha-Joon Chang is not widely known (except by astute Goodreads readers!), even among economists, in the United States, but he is a rock star in his native Korea. He is not mentioned in the index or the bibliography of the recent neo-liberal tract, Why Nations Fail, by Acemoglu and Robinson. But on a recent trip to Busan, the Republic of Korea’s second largest city on the southern coast, I stopped beside Haeundae Beach to take in the scene. I began a conversation quite quickly (in English, my Kore...more
Dion
This book outlines in a light narrative what I have suspected for a long time: free trade *can* be good, but applied wholeheartedly and blindly and at the wrong time is mostly destructive.

Fact: The US and Britain and Japan and South Korea built up their industries through pragmatic tariffs and government-sponsored protection/subsidization. NOT through the path of free trade. Almost no country has.

Free trade does *not* make you rich, it's what you want the other countries to do when you are econo...more
Leo Walsh
Amazing when you think how ideological Economics has become. Most of what comes out of the media is Chicago School "Free Market." However, I began to notice that the people with the most intellectual muster, like Princeton's Paul Krugman and Cambridge's Ha-Joon Chang (author of this book) have consistently stood against the tide.

As academics, they "stand outside" the world, and observe. They are also used to searing intellectual debate and precision as they face the peer review process. Which ma...more
Kurt
Of the 5 books on economics I read since the crash, this one was by far the one that most challenged what I believed. I try to base my life on evidence and not ideologies I've grown to accept without much thought. Of the five books, his was supported with the most evidence. It challenged my notion that free market is always the best; And made me reevaluate when government spending is bad, when it is OK, and when it is best. It also makes me question my support of the World Trade Organization, an...more
Chris
The more I educate myself in economics, the more I am convinced it is a science that can offer no more conclusive answers about public policy than philosophy does about ethics or the nature of the self. The difference being, that when I sit down to a philosophy text, my greatest expectation is that it will be a beautifully articulated series of beliefs that will raise questions I had never pondered, or present the world in a unique light. But I always expect these texts to fall short of their st...more
Santo
“Meat imports are restricted…, which not only benefits local farmers but also inspecting firms… The export of raw rattan is about to be prohibited, which will benefit the rattan industry… Businesses have to give priority to local products…”

These are only some of the arguments put forward by Hal Hill and Monica Wihardja in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, ringing alarm bells about anti-reformist forces in the Indonesian Government. They argued that in spite of the upgraded investment ratings...more
Hadrian
Already read this. Very interesting criticism of neoliberal trade policy, and has some very relevant remarks on 'culture' and economic development. Argues that protectionism is a necessary component of international development, to prevent the industries of more developed companies to completely dismantle any competition.
Solor
An important reading for whoever wishes to look beyond the crap fed by Media and governments experts financed by immoral and unethical International Corporations.

The Formula Neoliberalism equals Development is another absurd lie trumpeted by the Good Guys of WTO, IMF and World Bank.

Ha-Joon Chang is not a Communist, a Charlatan or a Terrorist. He is a scientist; a Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge. He has also served as a consultant to the World Bank,...more
Ilya
In 1963, when the author was born, South Korea was one of the world's poorest countries, with half the per capita income of Ghana. The fratricidal war with interventions by the United States and China had destroyed half her industry and three quarters of her railways. The country's principal exports were fish, tungsten, and wigs made of human hair. In 1982, when the author finished high school, South Korea was a middle-income country, on par with Ecuador. In 1997, when he was an adult professor...more
Konstantinos Chatzigeorgiou
The main argument of Bad Samaritans is that most rich countries became rich by using protectionism and rejecting free trade policies that would undermine their economies. When they became prosperous, they kicked the ladder so developing countries couldn't do the same. Nowadays, the same countries, largely controlling institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, dictate which policies should be followed by the developing ones. This is similar to saying : Don't do as I did, do as I say.

The boo...more
Josh Stewart
this looks like a boring me-too business book on the cover - a friend had to twist my nipple to get me to crack the cover. What a great surprise. The author takes the neo-liberal economist trade dogmas and exposes them as unproven and likely very damaging policy choices for the poor developing countries they are often forced upon. The label "neo-liberal" is confusing because these are ideas strongly supported by conservative politicians and violently supported by right wing commentator crazies....more
Eric
Outstanding! The author lays out his argument in an incredibly straightforward and well-supported manner. He parses out the claims that neoliberal free trade and capitalism are an inherently better and more efficient economic model, and breaks down the reasons of why this is simply untrue and based on historical events that directly refute the claims of "bad samaritanism's" proponents.
In some respects, I feel he's a little too reasonable and doesn't take his argument far enough against capitali...more
Rhesa
I have read many books that's anti WTO, IMF & World Bank, majority of them are so biased and over simplyfing the complexity of reality, just as the pro's one, like Thomas Friedman's. But this book is different, Chang explains with convincing argument & rich datas that the preachers of free trade, in this case UK as well as US, were once an ultra protective countries, they imposed heavy tariffs & gave many subsidies to national companies, mostly SOE. Only when their domestic manufactu...more
Willowwind
A detailed rebuttal of free market ideology for the lay person from an award winning Cambridge economist born and raised in pre-industrial Korea. The author shows how the free market policies imposed by the IMF and World Bank have seriously damaged developing countries as well as setting the record straight about how the current industrial giants (far from practicing free trade) consistently protected their infant industries. This excellent and lucid book also deconstructs free market ideology i...more
Stan Murai
The author Ha-Joon Chang, a leading economist
who specializes in developmental economics, has
chosen a interesting title for his book based
on the biblical parable of the 'Good Samaritan'
who helped a stranger in distress. The original
Samaritans of the bible were despised by the Jews
for whom this parable was told. But 'Bad Samaritans'
of this book, namely neo-liberal free market
economists, are taking advantage of those in trouble
and harming instead of helping those in developing
countries with their...more
Hoang Trang
I first learned about Ha-joon Chang through one of his articles on the 1997 Asian Crisis written more than a decade ago. To be frank, I was shocked by his bombarding WB and IMF with criticism for their influence and intervention in the region before and after the crisis. His strong support for protectionism and the role of state-owned enterprises also diverged to a great extent from what I had been taught at school as an economic student. I started to read more of his papers and articles out of...more
Zak
When you steal books from Barnes and Noble, I feel you recognize that nearly any mass-produced economics tract deriding free-market capitalism is going to be a bit simple. If you already have an academic grounding in infant-industries theory or even a somewhat informed critique of globalization, you will most likely read this book in two days. With this said, I had a plane to catch in an hour, little pocket money, and limited options.

Anecdote aside, the reviews below me have well described th...more
Isaac
An alternative title for this book could be:
Neo-Liberalism is BAD!

If you don't know what that is, no worries. You will be sick of the term just 20 pages into this book.


Anyway, some interesting things this book argues:

- Not only is piracy fantastic for developing countries (hooray for piracy!!!) but almost all rich countries have indulged in it themselves on their way up the global ladder. It follows that advancing patent and copyright laws are having dire consequences for developing countries e...more
A
I actually thought this book would be much better than it was. There is a coherent theoretical argument behind the whole import substitution, infant industries approach to development. I was hoping to see a more interesting/empirical defense of it (and maybe a more nuanced explanation of when/how it can work, and when it doesn't)...because development is ultimately an empirical question about "what works," not what makes sense in theory. Ha-Joon presents a basic version of theoretical argument,...more
Terence
Despite an annoying writing style and some egregious typos ("the these," "casualty" for "causality" and "samller" for "smaller," among others), the substance of this book is a cogent dissection of the neo-liberal religion and the obsession with "globalization" that has brought even the giants of the developed world to the brink of economic implosion in just 30 years.

The gist of Chang's argument is that, after 150 years of avid protectionism, market intervention and lax patent protection, the dev...more
Marne
Everything that the developing world has known but were afraid to say or could not articulate, or were helpless against under trading or financing terms imposed by the developed world, is what Bad Samaritans is all about. Contrary to Friedman and others, the world is not flat and the developing world is always at the brunt of "free trade." The wealthy nations imposing "free trade" on the poorer nations did not become wealthy because they practiced free trade. Their own histories prove the contra...more
Adam Ross
A captivating history of the dark side of free trade and capitalism in world history, particularly 20th century world history. Chang undoes many of the myths of capitalist rhetoric, that it expands wealth and is a net good on the planet, etc. Instead, he shows that global economies grew much more quickly under what are typically called "interventionalist" economic policy by governments, often times growing many times more quickly per year under governmental oversight and heavy regulations than u...more
Robert
Consider this a schooling of neo-liberal economics. Basically, Chang argues that developing economies need time to nurture their manufacturing industries in order to increase their standard of living. Further, opening up their markets in the manner endorsed by the IMF, World Bank and WTO (and in concert with the interests of the rich countries) undermines real development. Chang backs this up by showing that, without fail, all the rich economies used a combination of tariffs, subsidies, state ow...more
Tony Canas
I'm a free market loving MBA. I read this book mostly being curious about what it might say. I must say, it almost turned me into a Keynesian social democrat, but not quite. The author grew up in the South Korean economic miracle and has a lot of very good points as to how the developed countries are keeping the developing countries from developing by pushing the ideas of free trade when in reality they didn't follow free trade when they were in the process of developing. I think I need to fact...more
Anandh Sundar
After being brought up on a dose of neo classical Western based textbooks, this book was a breath of fresh air. The author propounds that those who advocate removing of trade barriers(and therefore free trade) are dragging away the same ladder which they themselves used to succeed. Whether it be copyright violation in USA, books piracy in South Korea, IPR theft by Allies post WW-2, all the fortunes have been built on the back of (what is seen today as) sins.

Excellent analogies are used in the bo...more
Neel
I love this book. I wouldn't say I'm some kind of religious follower of Ha-Joon Chang's of every word in the book, and I even disagree with the author at some points.

But it is undeniable that voices like Chang's are in the ideological wilderness. There are many elements of free-market globalization that are the stuff of myth and empty faith. Chang lays these bare in this book. It's a message you should share with your "pro-business conservative" friends, as many of Chang's base arguments are irr...more
Mathew
Interesting enough, and a nice alternate view to the free market mantra unthinkingly chanted by dear leaders. Suffered from sports metaphors, oversimplification (forgivable, as an economic history for the average person can only get so technical - but it could have been a little more fact heavy), and a complete lack of proofreading.
Madeleine Fletcher
I wonder if Dad read this book. If he hasn't read it already, this would be just the sort of book for him.
Grig O'
GRRR FREE TRADE I HATE YOUU!!!1122##$#$%%%
Ryan
I have long been familiar with this book and its arguments. So much so that I have actually recommended it to other people despite not having yet read it myself. So I figured it is about time that I finally read it. No surprises, but it reaffirmed my understanding that it is an excellent book. It presents the solidly backed up argument that every rich developed country in the world got rich on protected trade and government regulation, instead of the free trade model now being pushed by rich cou...more
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Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at Cambridge University. His book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism was a no.1 bestseller and was called by the Observer 'a witty and timely debunking of some of the biggest myths surrounding the global economy.' He is a popular columnist at the Guardian, and a vocal critic of the failures of our economic system.
More about Ha-Joon Chang...
23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction (Pelican Books) Reclaiming Development: An Economic Policy Handbook for Activists and Policymakers The East Asian Development Experience: The Miracle, the Crisis and the Future

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“free trade economists have argued that the mere co-existence of protectionism and economic development does not prove that the former caused the latter. This is true. But i am at least trying to explain one phenomenon - economic development-with another that co-existed with it - protectionism. Free trade economists have to explain how free trade can be an explanation for the economic success of today's rich countries, when it simply had not been practised very much before they became rich.” 5 likes
“Gore Vidal, the American writer, once famously described the American economic system as ‘free enterprise for the poor and socialism for the rich’.” 1 likes
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