Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013
Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press), by Mark Blyth
Mark Blyth’s Austerity can be summed up in one phrase: “We cannot cut our way to growth.” Tea Party budget hacking would actually trigger lower growth and higher unemployment, leading to decaying infrastructure and a greater accumulation of wealth at the top of the pyramid. The Brown University economics professor deflates many of the ill-informed ideas that pass for common sense nowadays, especially concerning debt. Yes, Blyth says, too much debt can be crushing, but the Chicken Little predictions by the Teabags are based on flawed assumptions. Moreover, rising revenues will lower the debt. Blyth has special reasons to resist extreme libertarian ideologies. The product of poverty, Blyth went to grade school with holes in his shoes, but credits Britain’s welfare state with sustaining his dream of rising higher. Libertarians often don’t realize that those bootstraps they always extoll are usually government made.