Friday, March 1, 2013

Rolling Back the Propaganda

The human race is incredibly fortunate to have the state, an indispensable and usually benevolent institution also known as simply “the government”. Without its central planning, life would be miserable, if existing at all. Children would be working in mines for a dollar a day, consumer products would be exploding, there would be no science or art, and we would all be ignoramuses.

At least, that’s the story the state itself tells us. This is unsurprising- it is simply pursuing its own self-interest by perpetuating propaganda that leads the masses to ignore and be ignorant of other possible solutions to problems the government claims to solve.

Exploding some of these myths is the goal of Rollback, the most recent book by historian Thomas E. Woods. It didn’t come off the presses a minute too soon, either. Americans face a crisis, and with that comes the opportunity for change.

What crisis?
“The federal entitlement programs on which generations of Americans have been taught to rely and to base their expectations for retirement will go bust in our lifetimes. The aging of the population guarantees it. The resources do not and will not exist to make good on these promises.”
A rosy economic outlook, responsible management of the federal debt, and readiness to pay much higher interest on the debt will not avert the looming disaster. Woods meticulously documents the statistics to back up his claims. It was a pretty startling chapter- that’s coming from someone who was already somewhat aware of these problems.

As these problems were created by steady government growth, they will be solved by reversing the trend. “This is no calamity to be deplored. It is an opportunity to be seized,” Woods writes. Rahm Emanuel was right when he observed that a crisis presents the opportunity for change. That change can be good or bad, and Rollback attempts to demonstrate the inevitable cutting back of government is actually a boon for all of us.

To do that, the large middle portion of the book is devoted to addressing a myriad of issues ranging from recent items like health care, stimulus, the housing bubble, to major but oft-overlooked things such as the monetary system, military spending, and the war on drugs. He also wisely spends some time on relatively inexpensive programs and regulations that “form a significant part of the mythological edifice that gives rise to the public’s naïve confidence in government”. Woods rolls back the propaganda and makes some of the best cases for less government that I have read.

The final chapter discusses possible solutions but is prefaced with an important warning for those who are tempted to put their faith in today’s Republican party. The 2010 elections- and no doubt several more to come, will not put genuine friends of freedom in office who are prepared to responsibly address the crisis. No, the GOP’s history proves it buys into the Official Story, just like the Democrats.

The solutions Woods proposes are mostly unconventional, which seems appropriate given the severity of the crisis and the failure of traditional solutions. The chapter is concluded with a brief moral case for freedom; it’s not a strictly economic problem we face.

Rollback’s 232 pages are jam packed with fascinating information and over 400 footnotes. Despite the tea party appealing cover*, issues are dealt with in a fair, non-partisan manner. It is a book that makes you think. Both laypersons and sophisticated political junkies should read this timely work. In fact, if I were to add just one book to everyone’s reading list, Rollback would probably be it.

Read the first chapter for free here. Or listen free here.

*That was the publisher’s choice, not the author's.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to read this book. Surely there are tons of information here that you can use to dodge financial problem because of economic crisis.