Tag Archives: capitalism

State of Nature

By James Kwak

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately, some of which I’ve mentioned here: The Submerged State by Suzanne Mettler, Invisible Hands by Kim Phillips-Fein, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (finally) by David Landes, Exorbitant Privilege by Barry Eichengreen, and a pile of books on the national debt and deficit politics. (Despite moonlighting as a blogger, I find books more satisfying than the constant stream of newspapers, magazines, and blogs.) But my favorite book I’ve read in a while is Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America, by the historian Richard White.*

For some people, most notably Rick Perry but also much of the conservative base, the late nineteenth century was the golden age: of the gold standard, no income tax, senators elected by state legislatures, and, most importantly, little to no government “regulation” of business. White shows what that world was really like.

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Spring Break

My school is on break this week, so I’m taking some time off from now through Wednesday or Thursday. I probably won’t write anything very involved, but I will try to point out a few things I’ve been reading.

On that note, I finally read Amartya Sen’s essay “Capitalism in Crisis” from The New York Review of Books. The article meanders through a variety of topics, but two of the broad themes are: the economic systems we call “capitalist” involve much more intertwining of free markets and nonmarket goods and services (education, health care, pensions, etc.) than most people realize; and we need less to invent a new form of capitalism than to understand better the one we already have.