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23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism | [Ha-Joon Chang]

23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists-the apostles of the freemarket-have spun since the Age of Reagan.
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Publisher's Summary

Thing 1: There is no such thing as the free market.
Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet.
Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists - the apostles of the freemarket - have spun since the Age of Reagan.

Chang, the author of the international best seller Bad Samaritans, is one of the world's most respected economists, a voice of sanity - and wit - in the tradition of John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Stiglitz.

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism equips listeners with an understanding of how global capitalism works - and doesn't. In his final chapter, "How to Rebuild the World", Chang offers a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of becoming slaves of the market.

Ha-Joon Chang teaches in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge. His books include the best-selling Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. His Kicking Away the Ladder received the 2003 Myrdal Prize, and, in 2005, Chang was awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

©2011 Ha-Joon Chang (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Shaking Economics 101 assumptions to the core … Eminently accessible, with a clearly liberal (or at least anticonservative) bent, but with surprises along the way—for one, the thought that markets need to become less rather than more efficient." (Kirkus Reviews)

"An advocate of big, active government and capitalism as distinct from a free market, Chang presents an enlightening précis of modern economic thought - and all the places it's gone wrong, urging us to act in order to completely rebuild the world economy: 'This will make some readers uncomfortable... it is time to get uncomfortable.'" (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 01-19-14
    Sam Motes Tampa 01-19-14 Member Since 2011

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Light of truth on free market thought"

    Chang attacks 23 common beliefs purported to be true by free market capitalist who have convinced most of us are true and builds compelling reasoning on why they really don't stand up to scrutiny. The strongest false belief to me was that only free markets can pull the poor countries out of poverty but the last twenty year history of its lack of success coupled with the protectionist and anti free market success stories of China today as well as the USA in the 1800s and Britain before that show why is doesn't work. A eye opening very approachable read by Chang in this work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 04-14-12
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 04-14-12 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What was I Thinging?"

    I support the free market and capitalism, but nothing is perfect, so I bought this book to see how it could be better. What I got was some unsubstantial arguments and a feeling of who cares.

    He starts out by saying we have no free market because we have laws such as you can not make cars that pollute. I understood this, but thought he was being pretty picky. This then was the foundation for much of the rest of what I listened to. He was as bad as Rush Limbaugh when it comes to cherry picking his arguments and putting words into those who disagree.

    I was educated in that I learned that large corporations that just try to make money for their share holders helped bring down manufacturing. I agreed, but did not see what I could do about this.

    Several of his things left me thinking, And I care Why?

    Unless your a socialist who likes listening to someone who thinks like you, I believe this to be a waste of your time.

    16 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rupe Jacksonville, FL, United States 01-25-12
    Rupe Jacksonville, FL, United States 01-25-12 Member Since 2003
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    "Awesome and Informative"
    If you could sum up 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism in three words, what would they be?

    Informative, Interesting, Well-written


    Any additional comments?

    One of the most interesting and informative books I have read in a very long time.

    It touched on such a broad array of areas that covered such diverse and often mundane topics such as market forces, economy, poverty, one could easily get lost.

    The author undoubtedly is a great teacher - something rare of very smart people...the ability to impart to others what's in their minds. A must read!

    5 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rob United States 05-28-13
    rob United States 05-28-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nothing to Say"
    What would have made 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism better?

    If the author didn't hide behind his understanding of the issue in order to promote his agenda. There are brief snippets that we see the author stating that we do not have capitalism, but rather than addressing that fact he is constantly setting up strawmen in order to push a story. His interpretation of history like his definition of capitalism is questionable, but he never stops to discuss, each section is a sprint in order to get to the point he can shout about how bad free exchange is. Nothing new, interesting, or true here.


    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gayle Missoula, MT, United States 02-01-12
    Gayle Missoula, MT, United States 02-01-12
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    "If you love straw men you will love this book."
    Would you try another book from Ha-Joon Chang and/or Joe Barrett?

    This book is balderdash. Hacked up complaints about capitalism - create a straw man and bravely execute him. If you want to learn something, hear an important argument, find a great insight, I have only one bit of advice - look elsewhere!


    Would you ever listen to anything by Ha-Joon Chang again?

    No


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    N/a


    What character would you cut from 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism?

    N/A


    8 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael United States 04-08-11
    Michael United States 04-08-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Excellent: Loved it!"

    Every point Ha-Joon Chang makes about Capitalism is supported by examples. Every point is very relevant to the world of economics and monetary system structure. This is the best published work I have found advocating a rethinking of our world's monetary and political systems.

    In the end this book advocates capitalism and democracy. It suggests that certain ideologies have allowed policies to drift over the decades causing us to loose sight of long term planning, among other things, partially contributing to the greater economic instability felt worldwide today.

    Offering excellent data to defend more equatable financial and monetary policies this book is a must have for those interested in monetary policy, finance or economics. However, it requires no prior knowledge of such subjects making it a good introductory book to these subjects.

    Unfortunately, there is no technical data about how a improved democratic-capitalistic government-markets would operate but, it definitely establishes a precedent for such work.

    20 of 49 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Hunt Takoma Park, MD 03-05-13
    Ryan Hunt Takoma Park, MD 03-05-13 Member Since 2012

    Ryan Hunt

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    "Good information - a little dry"
    What did you love best about 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism?

    I liked the book, but I may not be the intended audience. I struggled to get through it. Very dry.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Rosburg, WA, United States 01-30-12
    Beth Rosburg, WA, United States 01-30-12
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    "great commentary"
    Would you listen to 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism again? Why?

    I recommend taking notes, if you want to be conversant on this topic. Written by a guy who is not wild about our modern version of 'free market' capitalism. A very good analysis. I recommend this book.


    4 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elicka Boone, NC, United States 03-26-12
    Elicka Boone, NC, United States 03-26-12 Member Since 2010

    Non-fiction, fiction--I read widely. Except bodice rippers. I'd rather pull my own eyelashes out than read romance. Avid, happy reader.

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    "DON'T BE INTIMIDATED--EXCELLENT and INTERESTING!"

    I have to admit, this book languished in my library for awhile before I read it, in part because I assumed it would be less than, er, fun to read. Boy, was I wrong. I bought it because I've always felt embarrassingly inept and uninformed about finance and economics, and hoped to bone up a bit, as clearly, things in that area have been going awry for some time. As such, I thought this book might help me gain a better understanding . . . it certainly did.

    This is not anti-capitalist at all, by the way--if anything, it's anti-(so called) free market economics. The big surprise is how interesting this book is. There's nothing dry about it--I couldn't put it down. I felt great when I finished it--empowered, well-informed . . . . It's one of those books that you want to recommend to everyone the moment you finish it.

    Finally, it's extremely well-written, and the narrator does a great job with it. You'll be glad you bought this!

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Björn Linkoping, Sweden 02-13-12
    Björn Linkoping, Sweden 02-13-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting and thought provoking, though biased"

    A lot of interesting concepts and ideas, although much of it seems to be quite biased. The author seems to have fairly firmly established opinions and does his best to present these in a convincing way to the reader.

    The facts and statistics that are presented as evidence for the "things" are all very interesting but frequently feel very unscientific. If comparing whether policy A or policy B is the best choice for economic development, it's not enough to say that "Look at country X, they used policy A and it gave them i% growth rate, while country Y used policy B and got j% growth rate." Those data points are not enough to give any sort of statistical indication without also considering a thousand other factors, and the author never acknowledges this by saying that "careful statistical analysis shows that..." so as a reader I don't know whether the arguments are pulled out of thin air or really just a huge simplification of a proper scientific study. I realize that the book aims at laymen with no background in economics (which surely matches me) but that's not really an excuse if it doesn't give me as a reader good confidence that the author has a firm basis for his claims.

    The above situation actually extends to the whole book. I can accept that the "things" the author presents may very well be true, but reading the book I still get the impression that I'm not reading a neutral academic description but rather a manifesto.

    The book is still very interesting though, and I'm not saying that the conclusions are wrong, in fact many of them seem very plausible to me (as a layman, once again). I'm sure that the argumentative rather than scientific format wouldn't at all feel as notable if it wasn't for the controversial topic of the book. With the world's financial system currently in turmoil it's clear that this isn't just light reading about economics, it's an opinion piece.

    Bottom line, it's a good read and I can recommend it to any non-economists willing to hear a refreshing second opinion about our current capitalistic system.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
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