ISBN 978 14088 2483 2. “Merchants of Doubt – How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming” was written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway and first published by Bloomsbury in 2010 (this paperback in 2012). If you fast forward to the Conclusion in this book you may be forgiven for thinking you were still reading the last book we reviewed “Debunking Economics” by Steve Keen. For what links the two is how a dogmatic belief in “free market fundamentalism” can cause people to abandon all reason. As if under the influence of some bizarre cult perfectly reasonable people start to deny the very principle of reality: they start fighting scientific rationalism with propaganda.
ISBN 978-0-141-03651-9. “How Markets Fail – The Logic of Economic Calamities” by John Cassidy was published by Penguin in 2009 (although this is a review of the 2010 reprint which has an extra “Afterword” at the end covering 2009 to 2010). Cassidy is better known for his 2002 work “Dot.Con”. He is an economics journalist whose work can be found gracing the pages of the Sunday Times and the New York Post. Judging by the accolades on the cover pages this work was very well received by the establishment achieving “Book of the Year” in The Economist, The Times, The Evening Standard and the Daily Telegraph. Let’s be clear: this is mainstream.
Last weekend the USA went crazy as petrol there peaked at a new high of $4.61/gallon. Here is the maths: a US Gallon is 3.785 Litres and the US Dollar is about £1.60. So by our reckoning $4.61/gall is £0.76/litre (approximately half the cost of UK petrol, the UK petrol equivalent there would be $8.41/gallon.) It lead to James Hamilton, Professor of Economics at the University of California (well known for work on the relationship between oil prices and economic growth) to ask: “will this scuttle economic growth? He concluded: “no”. Why? Regardless of the media storm they have been there before – in 2008. The US consumer is no longer shocked. Life will go on, and if it didn’t we would seriously have to ask why. Their petrol is really, really cheap. But is that a good thing? Are they prepared for what is to come? Continue reading
“Growthbusters – Hooked on Growth” is a 90 minute documentary film made in 2011 with the help on non-profit organisation Citizen-Powered Media. It is certainly very citizen-powered being largely produced, written and directed by campaigner Dave Gardner. He also appears in most of the film and narrates it. It is largely his story. He is quite a find: media-friendly and passionate about his subject. The movie’s strength is in its strong central narrative and use of humour. It is highly watchable, playful, fun and not at all grim. If it has one weakness it is its pre-occupation with busting growth without delivering a strong enough message about what will replace growth.