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The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The…
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The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American…

by Robert J. Samuelson

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I don't like Reaganomics. I don't like the capitalist world that it created, with its massive and absurd inequalities in rewards for labor. I don't like the idea of medicine for profit, or the notion that people *should* retire at a give age willy-nilly.

So I was predisposed to dislike this book because it extols the risk/reward rules that I so frown on. I ended up not disliking the book, though I still dislike the system it praises. Samuelson sings the conservative aria that entitlement spending must come down, must must must, or the sky will fall and *cue horror movie music* profits will shrink!!! NOOOOOO say it isn't so!!!! Profits *sob* won't go to the investors anymore, no no not so much as a billion even, so they can consume more and, oh yeah, invest more to make more *salacious slurping sounds* profits!!!

Yeah, well, welcome to my world, investors. My income has gone down to zero, and I'm ineligible for unemployment "insurance" because employers have the right to deny it to you, and medical insurance? What's that? All because vampires getting millions in bonuses invented a creative way to snatch even bigger gobs of taxpayer money by throwing themselves a recession! (Luckily for me, the personal consequences are mitigated by my family situation, but if they had not been, I wouldn't be on this computer right now, I'd be on the street.)

So I am utterly out of sympathy with this tome's central assumption...that profits for the few belong solely to the few...yet the author makes some very good points. His analysis of the global warming problem is cogent and probably correct: Ain't gettin' solved, no one wants to pay the large and ever-growing price. Health care costs are, undoubtedly, out of control. Hey...anybody notice that there are (for-profit) insurance companies and hospital groups out there, paying executives tasty-big salaries that have to grow, and be earned somehow? Hmmm.

Where I absolutely march with the author is in his abhorrence for inflation, and the necessity of preventing it from recrudescing. Inflation amounts to a large tax on working people. What you get in your pay envelope has already lost some value by the time you get the money into your bank (for a fee, the size of which goes up as your balance goes down, hmmm). The nasty recession I lived through as a young worker was extremely unpleasant. It killed inflation, and so should be praised. Then came the idiot consumption-fest that's brought us to the place we are now.

Why is there no force in the public discourse saying "There is such a thing as 'enough' in every area of life, INCLUDING MONEY AND PROFITS"? Only things that make the least and the last among us safer, better off, more secure, are targets for the "enough" concept. Why is that? I suspect it's because the greedy mo-fos who have the commanding heights of the economy to themselves like it that way. No individual should have a billion dollars in assets. There is simply no conceivable justification for that kind of wealth in private hands. None. So hand it over. An extra billion in, say, Microsoft stocks in the hands of the fools at the Treasury is better than in the hands of Bill Gates. All of us are smarter than any one of us.

Oh well, I am not likely to be appointed to a government position, am I? Not with my confiscatory bent. So y'all're safe.

So far. ( )
10 vote richardderus | Oct 22, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375505482, Hardcover)

It’s a giant gap in our history. The Great Inflation, argues award-winning columnist Robert J. Samuelson in this provocative book, was the worst domestic policy blunder of the postwar era and played a crucial role in transforming American politics, economy, and everyday life–and yet its story is hardly remembered or appreciated. In these uncertain economic times, it is more imperative than ever that we understand what happened in the 1960s and 1970s, lest we be doomed to repeat our mistakes.

From 1960 to 1979, inflation rose from barely more than 1 percent to nearly 14 percent. It was the greatest peacetime inflationary spike in this nation’s history, and it had massive repercussions in every area of our lives. The direct consequences included Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency in 1980, stagnation in living standards, and a growing belief–both in America and abroad–that the great-power status of the United States was ending. The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath traces the origins and rise of double-digit inflation and its fall in the brutal 1981-82 recession, engineered by the Federal Reserve under then-chairman Paul Volcker and with the staunch backing of Reagan.

But that is only half the story. The end of high inflation triggered economic and social changes that are still with us. The stock market and housing booms were both direct outcomes; American business became more productive–and also much less protective of workers; and globalization was encouraged.

We cannot understand today’s world, Samuelson contends, without understanding the Great Inflation and its aftermath. Nor can we prepare for the future unless we heed its lessons. This incisive and enlightening book will stand as the authoritative account of a watershed event of our times.

Praise for The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath
"Newsweek and Washington Post columnist Samuelson is one of the rare journalists who debates politics and economics with a healthy skepticism toward conventional wisdom. Politicians would do well to study [the errors] the past that teach that choosing quick fixes only delays and worsens the inevitable.” Booklist

"If you want to understand the economic events of the last half century, you should read. . . Robert Samuelson's The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: --U.S News & World Report.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The Great Inflation, argues journalist Samuelson, was the worst domestic policy blunder of the postwar era and played a crucial role in transforming American politics, economy, and everyday life--and yet its story is hardly remembered or appreciated. From 1960 to 1979, inflation rose from barely more than 1 percent to nearly 14 percent--the greatest peacetime inflationary spike in this nation's history. It had massive repercussions in every area of our lives. The direct consequences included Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, stagnation in living standards, and a growing belief that the great-power status of the United States was ending. The end of high inflation in the brutal 1981-82 recession, engineered by the Federal Reserve under then-chairman Paul Volcker, triggered economic and social changes that are still with us. The stock market and housing booms were both direct outcomes; American business became more productive--and also much less protective of workers; and globalization was encouraged.--From publisher description.… (more)

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