I am reading Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality which, as it states, focuses on inequality but provides a more general political-economic critique of US political developments over the past 30 years. Also reading Jeffrey Sacks, The Price of Civilization which emphasises ethical issues but takes up similar themes. The chapter in Stiglitz, “1984 is Upon Us”, should be required reading for economists. Deals creatively with the idea of dominant foolish ideas as social constructs and provides a guide to dispelling climate change denialism and other irrationalities. Sachs is likewise excellent on techniques for mass persuasion.
These are relatively mainstream economists but their critique is both cogent and overwhelming.
Collectively these works show why the election of a Mitt Romney would be a disaster for the US and for the world. Obama has not proven to be the reformist president who challenged the role of money and big business as central determinants of US political outcomes but one fears Romney would be a much worse choice by continuing to pursue the sorts of crazy rightist policies that are bringing the US to the point of self-destruction – deteriorating infrastructure, all the proceeds of growth going to a tiny fraction of the population, declining education standards etc etc etc.
Update: Obama has won I learn as I land by aircraft in Perth. I am sure Sachs would see this as a narrow victory given Obama’s compromised position with anti-social US commercial interests. My own perspective is that the victory is important for preventing Tea Party madness from further damaging the stature of what is a most important democracy. I doubt Obama will change things much but he is in a position to stop the advancement of the looney libertarian rightists of the Tea Party. (1501)