Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Crony Capitalism in America, 2008-2012

A good book review should be more than just a description of the volume under consideration and, ultimately, an up or down assessment.  A good book review does this, certainly, but it also educates the reader on the topic of the book; it's a stand-alone intellectual product.  Such is the case with an excellent review by David Gordon, the resident book reviewer at the Mises Institute, a libertarian organization dedicated to educating the public about the Austrian School of Economics.  Gordon reviews a new offering by Hunter Lewis entitled Crony Capitalism in America, 2008-2012, and provides an excellent example of the educational value that a book review can have, independent of its opinion of the book being reviewed.  Here's an illustrative example from Gordon's report:
In Crony Capitalism, a vital book, Hunter Lewis solves our problem. Those who condemn the free market do so by considering bad features of the present economy, both in the United States and elsewhere in the world. In judging the free market in this way, they rely on an unexamined assumption. They take for granted that the present order of things is the free market in action. 

As Lewis explains and documents to the hilt, this assumption is false. What we have today is not the free market but “crony capitalism,” an altogether different matter. Government and business are in a predatory partnership that extracts wealth to its own benefit. The fact that many suffer under the present system should occasion no surprise. Predatory “cronyism” has existed throughout history and has been the main block to economic progress.
On the basis of Gordon's review, I just ordered Lewis's book; also on the basis of Gordon's review, I'm more knowledgeable about cronyism than I was prior to reading it.  To me, that's a sign of a good book review.