Provocative and Troubling Look at an Impending Economic Implosion, November 16, 2013
“The Crash of 2016” is a provocative and troubling look at an economic implosion that will occur unless we take drastic measures to stop it. “A story of how America was dragged into the Crash of 2016.” Well-known progressive national and international radio and TV talk show host and accomplished author, Thom Hartmann places his focus on an economic crisis that may turn into the Fourth Great Crash since the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This stimulating 294-page book includes sixteen chapters broken out by the following five parts: 1. The Economic Royalists and the Corporatist Conspiracy, 2. Why We Crashed, 3. “Oppression, Rebellion, Reformation”, 4. The Great Crash, and 5. Out of the Ashes.
1. A professional and gifted author Hartmann is a master at engaging the public with a well- balanced narrative of history, current events and foresight.
2. The book has great format and flow. It’s entertaining, enlightening and the pages turn themselves.
3. Hartmann is a great and passionate thinker. His knowledge of history, and his ability to identify patterns is only matched by the skill to convey his conclusions in a lucid, straightforward manner.
4. Troubling, straight-forward eye-opening conclusions. “This crash is coming. It’s inevitable. I may be off a few years plus or minus in my timing, but the realities of the economic fundamentals left to us by thirty-three years of Reaganomics and deregulation have made it a certainty. We are quite simply repeating the mistakes of the 1920s, the 1850s, and the 1760s, and we are so far into them it’s extremely unlikely that anything other than reinflating the recent bubbles to buy a little time here and there will happen.”
5. Consistent use of terms. Hartmann does a great job of defining new terms and being consistent in their use. You will not only understand the terms fully as he applies them throughout the book but it may even become part of your lexicon. Phrases like “the Great Forgetting” and “the Economic Royalists” are now imbedded in my brain.
6. So what was the Tea Act really about? “The purpose of the Tea Act was to give the East India Company full and unlimited access to the American tea trade and to exempt the company from having to pay taxes to Britain on tea exported to the American colonies. It even gave the company a tax refund on millions of pounds of tea that it was unable to sell and holding in inventory.” In other words, corporate mooching.
7. Thought-provoking and great quotes abound, “”Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”
8. A great job of pointing out those elements in our society that threaten our representative democracy. “”We no longer have a government of, by, and for the people–representative democracy. We have government by plutocracy–the rule of the rich for the rich by the rich,” Moyers said on my television program. “Plutocracy has one purpose, which is to protect wealth.”
9. An expose of those pushing and driving the agenda of the Economic Royalists. “A new generation’s legal system with Royalist interpretations: Corporate personhood is real, money is speech, democracy is not sacred, and organized money should always have privilege over organized people.”
10. The policies of the New Deal that held the Royalists in check and allowed a middle class to thrive. Great stuff!
11. How Reagan stole the Leisure Society. ” As a result of the Reagan tax cuts, that era from 1947 to 1979, in which all classes of Americans saw their incomes grow together, ended. A new era, in which only the wealthiest among us got rich off a booming economy, commenced.”
12. In fairness, Clinton does not go unscathed. “Tariffs were ditched, and then Bill Clinton moved in to the White House in the 1990s. He continued Reagan’s trade policies and committed the United States to so-called free-trade agreements such as GATT, NAFTA, and the WTO, thus removing all the protections that had kept our domestic manufacturing industries safe from foreign corporate predators for two centuries.”
13. The Monopoly Endgame. “Rising health-care, food, and energy costs can all be traced back to this problem of monopoly in America.”
14. Interesting points. “Jefferson noted the absurdity of a rigid Constitution–or at least an interpretation of that Constitution–that does not change as the nation grows and times change, saying, ‘We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors…. Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself.'”
15. The rise of the Kocktopus, find out what this is all about.
16. The impact and background behind the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. “As a result of Citizens United, outside political spending skyrocketed from just $68 million in the 2006 midterms, to over $304 million in the 2010 midterms. That’s a 400 percent increase in corporate cash influencing elections and buying politicians, just ten months after the Citizens United decision.”
17. Troubling strategies exposed. “Kick more voters off the rolls, and let corporations have more of an influence in who wins them–that’s ALEC’s strategy.”
18. The scenarios confronting us due to the looming Crash of 2016. Interesting case studies, Germany and China.
19. In part five, Hartmann provides a path to redemption. “First things first: We need to tip the scales of power away from organized money and back to organized people. And the way to do that is to get rid of this whole idea of corporate personhood.”
20. In defense of a Green Revolution. “A new study by the research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance has found that unsubsidized renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels such as coal and gas. In fact, it’s a lot cheaper.”
21. Notes linked.
1. Hartmann does a great job of summarizing the illness, providing the path to a cure but less so in the prevention department.
2. Hartmann does wonders with words but more graphs would have added value and provided readers with a visual tool. The one chart provided shows clearly how compensation failed to match actual productivity.
3. Some great scientific and practical discoveries that are helpful to humanity do result from the Military Complex. I do understand Hartmann’s point, I just wanted to throw that out.
4. Comprehensive Notes section but a formal and separate Bibliography never hurts.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book. Hartmann exposes the underbelly of the impending economic crash and provides hope and ideas on how to recover from it. It’s a thought-provoking and interesting book. Hartmann has a great grasp for what ills our society and provides insightful history and compelling observations, my main concerned is how practical his guidance is. How can we mobilize the populace against this well-funded force that manages to compel people to vote against their own interest in favor of the Economic Royalists without having to hit rock bottom? And that is the question…a very solid book, I highly recommend it!
Further suggestions: “Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class – And What We Can Do about It (BK Currents (Paperback))” and many others by Thom Hartmann, “Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History” by Matt Taibbi, “Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer–and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class” by Jacob S. Hacker, “The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America–and Spawned a Global Crisis” by Michael W. Hudson, “Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else” by David Cay Johnston, “The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity–and What We Can Do about It” by Les Leopold, “Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction” Barry C. Lynn, “Beyond Outrage: Expanded Edition: What has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy, and how to fix it (Vintage)” by Robert B. Reich, and “The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street” by Robert Scheer.