Category Archives: Bob Lord

Book Review: Killing the Host

I finally got around to reading Michael Hudson’s Killing the Host. I think it was released over a year ago. Hudson is a professor of economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, which is where some of the most progressive work is being done, particularly in monetary theory.

This book is not especially well written. The editing was downright sloppy, in my opinion.

But it’s written well enough to follow and the content is valuable. Hudson’s central thesis is that economic policy has moved in the exact opposite direction of what economic philosophers of the 19th and early 20th century foresaw. They believed the world would become increasingly egalitarian, as economic and tax policy would favor industrialists and labor. Instead, it has favored rent seekers, particularly those in the finance sector.

Hudson likens the relationship of the finance sector to the economy to that of parasite to host. Eventually, the parasite drains the life out of the host.

For those interested in economic policy, Killing the Host is an important read. There are insights in this book I’ve not seen elsewhere. So, even though it could have been better written, I recommend it.

 

Taibbi on “Shattered”: A Book Review Perhaps More Important than the Book

I’ve been told by friends I should read Shattered, the devastating takedown of the Clinton 2016 campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. I may, but it’s not high on my priority list. That’s not to say it’s uninteresting or poorly written. From all I’ve read, it’s a really good work, and a page turner.

I’m just not sure I should spend hours on gory details that do nothing more than confirm what I already believe.

I did spend the few minutes required to read Matt Taibbi’s review of the book, and am glad I did. Taibbi’s intellect is as keen as any journalist out there. In this case, his takeaways from the book, not about the Clinton campaign, but about the Democratic Party, the Democratic establishment, and American political campaigns, have more long-lasting relevance than Shattered itself. Taibbi: Continue reading

A Piketty ‘Inflection Point’ Heads Up

[Cross-Posted from Inequality.org]

The concentration of America’s wealth may be reaching a point where any further gains for the top 1 percent must literally come at the direct expense of everyone else.

 

The exquisitely succinct equation at the heart of Thomas Piketty’s best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century — r  > g — has impressed readers worldwide. Just three symbols. Even Einstein, for his masterwork, needed five.

Piketty’s core principle: The rate of return on the investments the wealthy make will normally be greater than the rate of growth in a nation’s economy and total wealth.

Piketty considers the three decades right after World War II an exception to his rule. In those anomalous postwar years, the French economist explains, the rebuilding required after Europe’s destruction generated a rate of growth, g, not sustainable in the long term.

In more normal times, Piketty believes, r > g will drive ever-increasing concentration of wealth at the top — unless tax and other policy choices impose sufficient constraint on that concentration. Continue reading

Yes, I’m Still Here

It’s now been five weeks since my last post. In the five plus years preceding that stretch, I wrote just over 750 posts, never going more than two weeks in between postings.

Who would have predicted a few years back there would come a time that ole Thucky would have more visibility here than I?

Well, to Steve, the Captain (now Censored, after AZBM terminated the Captain’s commenting privilege) and the precious few others who follow me, I will be back. For whatever reason, I’ve found precious little inspiration to write over the past month or so. After a few attempts to churn out a post just for the sake of continuity, I said “screw it” and focused more on my golf game. My social media time also has been cut way back.

Truth is, my sabbatical has been great. For those of you who spend substantial time posting, commenting, tweeting, or Facebooking, I highly recommend it. It’s not that the social media is unenjoyable. Rather, a change of habit and a return to other forms of relaxation can be refreshing.

Still, I love to write, so I will return.

Winds of War

I stole the title from a friend’s Facebook post. I doubt he’ll mind.

He and I had the identical reaction to Trump’s speech to CPAC on Friday, in which Trump declared that America is about to undergo the greatest military buildup in history. Military buildups have one and only one purpose: going to war. That’s especially true when the nation embarking on the buildup already has the largest and most advanced military in the world, with most of the world’s other large fighting forces aligned with its own.

Worse yet, Trump, who expressed puzzlement at America’s no first strike policy regarding nuclear weapons, has promised a buildup in nuclear weaponry as well.

The only real questions are who and when. Iran? China? Mexico?

These are, as the saying goes, “interesting times.”

And we’re living in them.

Trump’s Screaming Racism

Trump’s recent exchange with reporter April Ryan at last Thursday’s press conference has generated a ton of criticism.

Criticism that has been far too kind.

I saw Trump’s presser referred to as a “scream of consciousness.” I agree, but the presser included a scream of something else: racism.

In American politics these days, the unofficial rule is that as long as a politician doesn’t go so far as to use the “N” word, the press won’t use the “R” word. I will: Donald Trump is a flat-out, screaming racist. Racism is the only explanation for his exchange with reporter Ryan, his past birtherism, and countless other remarks. I remember an interview years ago in which he spoke of his “great relationship” with “the Blacks.” The Blacks? Really? Does Trump believe that all Black Americans think and feel the same way, or that they sit around a 40 million-person dinner table to discuss whom they like and don’t like? Continue reading