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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  ·  Rating details ·  382 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
The cult of the free market--with its dogma of tax cuts, small government, and deregulation--has dominated economic policy talk since the Reagan revolution of nearly thirty years ago, seducing even liberals along the way. But a funny thing happened on the bridge to the twenty-first century: the conservatives themselves have abandoned these principles. In this riveting book ...more
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Published June 16th 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published August 5th 2008)
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Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Todd Martin
Aug 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance
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

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

Simon Wood
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Miriam Axel-lute
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Galbraith made the issues relatively easy to grasp and put forth logical solutions to the problems he found. It cleared up some misconceptions I held and is really strengthened through the use of evidence that policies supporting the free-market paradigm have failed to actually accomplish the goals they set out to; or at least to accomplish them for the reasons the theory would lay out. However, reading this book now is slightly depressing. Galbraith lays out the very real possibility that Ameri ...more
ILL: Luzerne doesn't have it.'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
Evan Micheals
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Regarding the "free market" it provided an account of how markets don't work. Predators have an interest in developing healthy pray (making them farmers). It sacrificed a number of ideologies sacred to the political left. I feel more enlightened having read this book about contemporary macro-economics. I understand the world of macro-economics better. Obviously written with a US audience in mind - I now understand the US role, and also its responsibility as world financial leader. I obviously li ...more
Marvin Soroos
This is a book that should be read by progressive Democrats who will understand better how their thinking has been cooped by conservative economic principles that modern Republicans ignore and are inhibiting the pursuit liberal economic ideals. It is written for a general audience, but there were some chapters I had difficulty understanding Galbraith's arguments.
So basically the free market is a big myth, and the conservatives who (claim to) hold it in such high regard are really just the clever bastards who took Adam Smith's warning about the power of the state to hinder free trade as an invitation rather than a warning. Not much surprise here.

But this book was written in 2008. That last chapter about how we could mend our ways seems quaint and tragicomic at this point. Is it treasonous, shortsighted (or both?) to say that part of me awaits China's gia
Robb Bridson
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am usually quite disappointed by political books that are several years old because they end up obsolete. This book came out before Obama was elected and paints a snapshot of the economic and political reality at the end of the Bush administration, then goes over the historical events that led up to that point.
There is a lot here that people don't usually talk about, and from an ideological (liberal) but not partisan (attacks the Democrats as much as the Republicans, sometimes more and not alw
Sep 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
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
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm conflicted about this book. It's one of those books that, in an ideal world, would be read by and only by those inclined to disagree with it. It makes some important points that are too often ignored and pushes for a fresh consideration of issues that are at least as relevant today as when the book was written. But it also has moments that veer into absurd crack-pottery.
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.
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Oct 30, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another absolutely critical piece to the Trumpian puzzle. While it is depressing that Galbraith predicted the Trump presidency so perfectly (or rather, aggressively cautioned against exactly what we're walking into), having more information should help us act.
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Dec 31, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, business
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.
Dec 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Does for free markets what atheism does for religion: proves that the concept itself is virtually useless.
May 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Nov 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with Galbraith, the market needs to be regulated. I was hoping for a more radical solution though.
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