Someone needed to write a book about how economic theory has been abused in American politics. And, someone finally did. James Kwak’s Economism is a very important and timely book, and anyone who is interested in public affairs should read it. Kwak, a law professor at the University of Connecticut, spins a tale of how simple supply-and-demand theory fed a free-market ideology that led to a financial crash, a dysfunctional healthcare system, spiralling inequality and a threadbare social-safety net. The basic idea is that by getting everyone to think in Econ 101 terms — perfectly competitive, well-functioning markets, rational, well-informed consumers and so on — free marketers were able to redefine the terms of the national debate to favour their own interests. With Econ 101 as the default lens through which everyone views the world, Kwak argues, government programmes and regulations start to seem dangerous and inefficient, while inequality begins to feel like the natural and just or...

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