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3.0 out of 5 stars is this 'polemic' a personal manifesto?, 20 July 2013
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This review is from: The Great Deformation (Hardcover)
The Great Deformation by David Stockman - a Review
Two major theses were being propounded by the author.
1. That the Financial Crisis of September 2008 Needed Not to have happened but was engineered by Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson of Wall Street and Goldman Sachs. They engineered a panic that resulted in the bailing out with Tax-Payers money of Too Big To Fail (TBTF) banks thus making lots of money and greatly increasing the amount of debt that the U.S. owes the world. (chapter 1)
2. That the U.S. had been heading towards its demise for the past thirty to forty years. This began with FDR's, the 1931 confiscation of gold and the devaluation of the dollar from $20.50 to $37.50 in 1933 bringing in a change that had not happened since 1832, the New Deal and Richard Nixon's break of the dollar from gold in August 1971 after a fateful meeting with economists at Camp David. (rest of the book)
The author acknowledges that his thesis is revisionist history. I am therefore puzzled by the method of writing the account adopted by the author. The author used the method of themes within each chapter, which makes following the narrative difficult for the like of me - a retired surgeon who is not exactly stupid but brought up to be sceptical. There was no chronological order and one has to trust the author implicitly. I found it very difficult to demonstrate veracity in his arguments. I was taught that in re-writing history, especially if it was of a revisionist nature, that if true would bring about an entire paradigm shift, it is very important that the arguments can be easily proven and demonstrably so. I am NOT saying that the financial arguments quoted by the author are false. It is just that the way the book is structured makes it very difficult to demonstrate veracity. The author flits from one period to another to make his points. According to David, the New Deal did not end the recession (the conventional opinion) which was already put right by Hoover's tight-money policies of the preceding months. It seemed unlikely that policies would reverse the deep depression of the 1930s within a few months of their enactment.
Does not indicate or provide evidence that the Federal Reserve Bank is a private bank rather than a public entity, although it function as the central bank of America, thus hoodwinking millions of people.
Finally it is unclear to me the purpose of the book which the author does not say. Was it an exposé or was it written as a presentation of a personal philosophy in preparation for high office ? The likes of Ron Paul who has resigned from his membership of Congress this year opens the way for people like David.
From numerous opinion polls and the prevailing demographic shifts, it is fairly certain that the GOP party with its many splits can't win power again. There is also a general disillusionment with Barack Obama's Democratic party. Obama is a severe disappointment. Furthermore there is general hatred by the middle-classes of the Wall Street bankers. This means that David Stockman maybe trying to catch the attention of the third constituency of the young who made up the 99% of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In the final chapter, there was a list of 13 tasks that will reverse the calamity that is facing the U.S.A. This seemed a contradiction to me as from the first chapter one is led to believe that the U.S. of A is in a terminal decline that is unsalvageable.
It was this final chapter that made me think of this thick volume as a personal manifesto. The thick volume of the book and the way data is presented, which makes it seem full of erudition is what makes me suspicious of its purpose. Was the author trying to hide his thesis of half-truths under the guise of erudition? This is a common ploy of politicians. I also feel that it is the political system where politicians are returned only if they carry out the wishes of the electorate that would explain how politicians would continue to believe in a system based on debts. The book was very USA centric as if the rest of the world does not exist, except in its discussion of the world wars and also China.

I wonder how the book made the New York Times BestSeller List!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Jul 2013 07:52:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Jul 2013 07:53:35 BDT
E. Plant says:
The final concluding chapter was particularly egregious. Some of his policy recommendations introduced completely new ideas which had no supporting arguments anywhere in the book! It was a very un-libertarian and weak set, too.

"Abolish Incumbency through an Omnibus Amendment"
"Impose a 30 Percent Wealth Tax; Pay down the national debt to 30 percent of GDP"
"Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment; Fed the Beast with Universal Taxes on consumption".
Raising new taxes is not the solution to government over-spending. It would make the problem worse.
The government ignores the Constitution. There is no reason to believe it would obey a new Amendment.

These are just weak suggestions. Maybe the author felt he had to be positive and suggest something? It would have been better if he hadn't bothered.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jul 2013 09:28:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Jul 2013 09:28:45 BDT
Rene Chang says:
That is why I thought there was a reason for writing the book. Only time can tell. Hilary Clinton is not a likely candidate and as I say David, who was a political operator with Reagan, may think his time had come.
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