The Economic Slowdown of Reading

the-global-minotaurMy reading has slowed to a crawl and I’m trying to stop it from grinding to a complete halt.
The book that has slowed things down is Yanis Varoufakis’s The Global Minotaur a book about the global economy and in particular the effects of America’s involvement within it.

Varoufakis was for a short time the Finance Minister of Greece during recent discussions between Greece and Europe over the economic crisis in his country. His argument at the time was that the austerity measures imposed upon Greece were making the problem worse and not bringing any hope of improvement.

I’ve seen that term “austerity” being used a lot recently relating to Government programmes to bring their economies back under control after the 2008 crash.
An English friend of mine has said that her retirement plans may have to be delayed for another ten years because of cuts related to “austerity” measures.
Through my recent “research” (including reading) I’ve come to understand that “austerity” measures are conditions being imposed upon society’s less well off, to pay for the failed ventures of its richest.
In other words, post-2008 bail out packages for the banks and big business are being financed through cuts to welfare and community services.

But back to my reading problems.
While The Global Minotaur contains some fascinating observations, a lot of its content goes well above my head. Maybe it’s something I’d more easily grasp if I could devote more time to long blocks of reading, instead of being restricted to half an hour here and there. Overall, while I’m having trouble understanding some of the specifics, this book explains and confirms some of the things I’d already observed: that the world’s economic systems are deeply flawed and are skewed to favour the super-wealthy.

I’m now about halfway through the book, so based on earlier experience I’m hoping the rest will be easier going.
It will be good to move on to something else but I’m not sure what it should be. I have a few other “political” books I’d like to start on but maybe I should take a break and get back to some fiction. I have novels by Zadie Smith, David Mitchell and a few others that I’m looking forward to reading, but who do I put first in line?

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7 Responses to The Economic Slowdown of Reading

  1. Marleen says:

    Hey, you could read a book or two by Donald Trump. After all, big name evangelicals have met and prayed with him about becoming President. And his first book is his favorite among all the books in the world, after the Bible. How can anybody argue with that?

  2. Marleen says:

    Although people like American politicians don’t tend to use the word austerity, they use the actual concept when they act like the government shouldn’t do anything because it costs money. Nevertheless, it has been pointed out that we have recovered better than some places in Europe because we passed a “stimulus” package (a bill in Congress to pay for some projects with jobs), even though it was smaller that what was proposed.

    • Onesimus says:

      Australia avoided the worst outcomes of the 2008 crash and barely suffered any ill-effects, because our government of the time introduced a “stimulus package” during the very early stages of the crash. They pumped money into school building (and other) projects and gave every household a stimulus payment (I don’t recall the amount, but $1500 comes to mind). As a contrast, other governments, the US included pumped billions of dollars of “stimulus” into the banks (the very organisation that CAUSED the crash) and any sign of a recovery took many years to be seen.

      • Onesimus says:

        Hot off the press – something I read only minutes ago from a book I’m currently reading, a quote from Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz:

        Most countries would envy Australia’s economy. During the global recession, Kevin Rudd’s government implemented one of the strongest Keynesian stimulus packages in the world. That package was delivered early, with cash grants that could be spent quickly followed by longer-term investments that buoyed confidence and activity over time. In many other countries, stimulus was too small and arrived too late, after jobs and confidence were already lost.

        In Australia the stimulus helped avoid a recession and saved up to 200,000 jobs.

        Econobabble, Richard Denniss (p 47)

      • Onesimus says:

        I’ve now found that the amount given to Australians by the Rudd government wasn’t $1500 as mentioned above. It was $900.

  3. Marleen says:

    The bigger “bailout” did go to the culprits. But there was a relatively small stimulus that went to various locales, where Republicans who had voted against the stimulus package nevertheless shamelessly and opportunistic and disingenuously were seen in high profile ribbon cutting photo ops because the money was good for the people in their states and cities. Meanwhile, it wasn’t disingenuous that people who voted for it were visible.

  4. Marleen says:

    The kind of stimulus you were referring to — directly to households or families — was not done here after the meltdown (at the end of, during, W’s second term or as the transition took place to Obama) as far as I know. But it was done during the George W. Bush administration; I don’t think they called it a stimulus (I don’t remember for sure whether or not they used that terminology). What George W. did was really surprising to me at that time… that Bush came in (obviously almost eight years before) and wanted to lower taxes, when the economy seemed fine. And then he was talking about handing out money for no discernable reason (except that he had said to people after 9/11 that the way they could help would be to go shopping). People don’t usually understand, this wasn’t just a tax break (and remember, this was under a Bush as president); I (like others) got a significant amount of money (and this had never happened before, in my life anyway) just as a response to filing my tax form — far more than I had paid in taxes. Now, on top of reducing taxes on rich people and handing out money to other people (and I was not poor), he took us to war too. None of this adds up in terms of math… unless what you’re trying to add up to is a financial meltdown.

    If that’s what Bush or the elite wanted, they succeeded… or he succeeded (in that). There was a stimulus (again, not sure if they used that word) for the auto industry before Bush left office. Then there was another nudge for the auto industry included in the bank bailout bill. Separate from those matters was voting (by Congress with regard to a bill) for what were called “shovel-ready” specific projects throughout the country (what I was referring to earlier in this reply section). Obama had wanted more of this (both more from the beginning –but there were barely enough votes to compromise — and more later on). The makeup of the representatives changed after his first two years, so there were fewer Democrats.

    By the way, Bill Clinton gets credit for the meltdown, too, as the removal of protective banking regulations happened under his “move to the right” presidency.

    Here (following video) is an example (and not a fluke) of a Republican governor.
    http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_maddow_csnyder_160304

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