• Freedom from the Market

  • America’s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand
  • By: Mike Konczal
  • Narrated by: Mike Lenz
  • Length: 7 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Health insurance, student loan debt, retirement savings, child care, work-life balance, access to home ownership - these are the issues driving America's current political debates. And they are all linked, as this brilliant and timely book reveals, by a single question: should we allow the free market to determine our lives? 

In the tradition of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, noted economic commentator Mike Konczal answers this question with a resounding no. Freedom from the Market blends passionate political argument and a bold new take on American history to reveal that, from the earliest days of the republic, Americans have defined freedom as what we keep free from the control of the market. With chapters on the history of Homestead Act and land ownership, the eight-hour work day and free time, social insurance and Social Security, World War II day cares, Medicare and desegregation, free public colleges, intellectual property, and the public corporation, Konczal shows how citizens have fought to ensure that everyone has access to the conditions that make us free. 

At a time when millions of Americans - and more and more politicians - are questioning the unregulated free market as un-American, Freedom from the Market offers a new narrative, and new intellectual ammunition, for the fight that lies ahead.

©2021 Mike Konczal (P)2021 Tantor

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Excellent explainer on restoring prosperity

This book is the best explainer I've seen in telling how neoliberal dogma gained a dominant foothold in American economic and social thinking; and in so doing it provides critical pointers for regaining lost ground in refuting that dogma and making people economically whole. If you've been looking for an objective foundation for debunking the false assumptions behind the push to privatize everything, Mike Konczal provides it here. The content is persuasive enough by itself, and the list of peer reviewers in the credits additionally confirms that this is not just the subjective work of yet another progressive.

Konczal covers issues that in past decades have taken a back seat to rent seeking by the very wealthy. These issues include providing sufficient health care, education, and public infrastructure. Credit and ownership of one's own labor is an essential element of a just economic system, including time for family, community involvement, and personal pursuits. History demonstrates that markets are far from being a panacea, and that the invisible hand has an agenda that is hardly natural—practicality shows a better way.

The history recounted is essential in providing relevance to 21st Century efforts toward restoring middle class prosperity—this time including all those left out of the original New Deal. In this book Konczal offers both hope and practical solutions from trails already blazed, essential tools in countering the well funded disinformation mechanisms that continue to be sustained in society by those who benefit inequitably from neoliberal policies. Mindful of the crucial battles won and lost throughout US history that are recounted in this book, we can achieve a strong and diverse middle class.

4 people found this helpful

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Superbly connects ideas to concrete reality

Few books about economic ideas and history are capable of keeping them grounded in how they have shaped and been shaped by social movements and policies. This book superbly bridges the ream of the abstract with the concrete in discussing how the idea of freedom from markets and the prioritization of the public good over property rights has a long history in the US that was systematically subverted by powerful interests up to neoliberalism today. All of it is grounded in detailed examinations of actual struggles around policies, like the fight to maintain daycares following the end of WW2, how Medicare was central to the desegregation of hospitals in the South, how land grant colleges were predicated on the premise that everyone should be provided equal access to higher education regardless of race or ability to pay. The discussion of how student loan debt was coterminous with human capital theory gaining traction during the economic crises of the 1970s is fascinating. Highly recommend.

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A really interesting perspective

A really interesting examination of the different economic ideas, solutions, and pitfalls that have surfaced over the last 100 years. I was surprised at how seemingly “radical” solutions are really not that new or novel and how ideas framed as “how we’ve always done things ” are often much more recent than people assume.