The title is pretty funny and I think I would think so even if I were rich, which I'm not (but I'm doing okay, thanks). The title reminds me of the placard held by an Occupy Wall Street protester some months ago, "Eat the rich."
Well, you know this sort of thing may not be all that funny to some people. The rich are still shaking in their polo boots about the communist threat even though it is as passé as mutton chop whiskers. However if the rich aren't careful they may see a new threat arise in the next decade or two that will make the communist manifesto seem like an invitation to a tea party.
The rich need to keep in mind that trickle down really means something has to trickle down. You can't hire the Pinkerton Guards and hole up in your palatial estate and expect to feel cozy by the fire any more. You have to actually relinquish some of your ill-gotten gains just to keep the hoi polloi from the ramparts. In the US we used to do that with a progressive tax code. Since it is very, very difficult for anyone (except Warren Buffet) to vote themselves more taxes, we need to help the rich out.
As President Hoover famously observed, economists are in the very disconcerting habit of saying "on the one hand..." and then "on the other hand...." And so he longed for a one-handed economist. Here Lewis gives us both a "no" and a "yes" (and some "yes/no's and no/yes's) to nine economic questions beginning with the title question and covering such areas as globalism, government's role in the economy, greed, the role of banks, etc. He quotes various economists on both sides of the issues. The effect is similar to taking a broad-based first course in economics at a college or university.
I think the book is okay as far as it goes and certainly I am not qualified to authoritatively debate the various issues; but I would like to point to what I think is a puzzling failure in the question in Part Three, "Are the Rich Compatible with Democracy?"
The way the arguments are presented it appears that what is at issue is who is boss, the producers (the rich) or the consumers who buy the products and services. Furthermore, the "democracy" that Lewis is referring to is not a political democracy but an economic one. Thus Lewis refers to "The free-market democratic system of one dollar, one vote." Putting aside the non-reality of "one-dollar, one vote" politically speaking, the real question is the effect that wealth can have on the democratic process--on the very fact of our elections being democratic.
If this book had been written after the Supreme Court's ruling on campaign financing in the "Citizen's United" case instead of before, perhaps Lewis would have realized that what really needs to be addressed is whether money can so pervert the democratic process as to turn our democracy into an oligarchy.
With the enormous power of television and other advertising to sway uninformed voters my feeling is that it's possible that we already have become a one-party nation (an oligarchy of the rich and influential) with two slightly differing branches, both seemingly long and loud on rhetoric but both very much the same in legislative and executive behavior. This has come about because no person seeking higher office has much of a chance of winning (or even getting the nomination of one of the two dominate parties) without considerable financial backing. You might gain a congressional seat for a term or two as a person of modest means without corporate backing, but you have no chance of winning a senate seat or the presidency.
The most obvious case in point are the positions taken by President Obama who talked of change but once in office continued most of the economic policies of his predecessors. He appointed Wall Street regulars to his team and continues to accept massive amounts of campaign funds from Wall Street firms. One can say that the differences between Obama and Romney are mostly superficial and that we can expect that whoever wins in November will continue in much the same way as before.
Anyway, this book is perhaps a less painful way of getting introduced to economic issues than having to read a textbook.
--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"