counter create hit Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More

Availability: Ready to download

Taking “free markets” from rhetoric to reality  For three decades free-market leaders have tried to reverse longstanding Keynesian economic policies, but have only produced larger government, greater debt, and more centralized economic power. So how can we achieve a truly free-market system, especially at this historical moment when capitalism seems to be in crisis?  The ans Taking “free markets” from rhetoric to reality  For three decades free-market leaders have tried to reverse longstanding Keynesian economic policies, but have only produced larger government, greater debt, and more centralized economic power. So how can we achieve a truly free-market system, especially at this historical moment when capitalism seems to be in crisis?  The answer, says John C. Médaille, is to stop pretending that economics is something on the order of the physical sciences; it must be a humane science, taking into account crucial social contexts. Toward a Truly Free Market argues that any attempt to divorce economic equilibrium from economic equity will lead to an unbalanced economy—one that falls either to ruin or to ruinous government attempts to redress the balance.  Médaille makes a refreshingly clear case for the economic theory—and practice—known as distributism. Unlike many of his fellow distributists, who argue primarily from moral terms, Médaille enters the economic debate on purely economic terms. Toward a Truly Free Market shows exactly how to end the bailouts, reduce government budgets, reform the tax code, fix the health-care system, and much more. What They're Saying... "It represents the best alternative economic thinking in a long time. Not all of its prescriptions will go unchallenged, but it is a rich contribution to the debate." —The American Conservative "Refreshing as it is groundbreaking. Medaille traces the root causes of our economic crisis and explores the Distributist blueprint needed to regain what civilization has lost: the political economy." —Saint Austin Review


Compare
Ads Banner

Taking “free markets” from rhetoric to reality  For three decades free-market leaders have tried to reverse longstanding Keynesian economic policies, but have only produced larger government, greater debt, and more centralized economic power. So how can we achieve a truly free-market system, especially at this historical moment when capitalism seems to be in crisis?  The ans Taking “free markets” from rhetoric to reality  For three decades free-market leaders have tried to reverse longstanding Keynesian economic policies, but have only produced larger government, greater debt, and more centralized economic power. So how can we achieve a truly free-market system, especially at this historical moment when capitalism seems to be in crisis?  The answer, says John C. Médaille, is to stop pretending that economics is something on the order of the physical sciences; it must be a humane science, taking into account crucial social contexts. Toward a Truly Free Market argues that any attempt to divorce economic equilibrium from economic equity will lead to an unbalanced economy—one that falls either to ruin or to ruinous government attempts to redress the balance.  Médaille makes a refreshingly clear case for the economic theory—and practice—known as distributism. Unlike many of his fellow distributists, who argue primarily from moral terms, Médaille enters the economic debate on purely economic terms. Toward a Truly Free Market shows exactly how to end the bailouts, reduce government budgets, reform the tax code, fix the health-care system, and much more. What They're Saying... "It represents the best alternative economic thinking in a long time. Not all of its prescriptions will go unchallenged, but it is a rich contribution to the debate." —The American Conservative "Refreshing as it is groundbreaking. Medaille traces the root causes of our economic crisis and explores the Distributist blueprint needed to regain what civilization has lost: the political economy." —Saint Austin Review

30 review for Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More

  1. 5 out of 5

    W. Littlejohn

    A fantastic book, everything I'd hoped for and more. One expects distributists to provide a breath of fresh air and an alluring new vision of what economics might look like, but let's face it, one does not expect them to do rigorous, respectable economics in the process. This book does--or nearly so. This book is very well-written, cogently argued, and easy to read. Although I've loved a lot of Medaille's work, none of it prepared me for just how solid and compelling this book was. It reads almo A fantastic book, everything I'd hoped for and more. One expects distributists to provide a breath of fresh air and an alluring new vision of what economics might look like, but let's face it, one does not expect them to do rigorous, respectable economics in the process. This book does--or nearly so. This book is very well-written, cogently argued, and easy to read. Although I've loved a lot of Medaille's work, none of it prepared me for just how solid and compelling this book was. It reads almost like a basic introduction to economics, covering the fundamentals like money, capital, labour, supply and demand, etc., but in the process, it questions, in a very commonsensical but rigorous way, the false assumptions of economic theory that govern the way those subjects are treated in most introductory economics textbooks. Following Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation, it makes the revolutionary case that land, labour, and money are "fictitious commodities" and thus cannot play the role they generally play in neoclassical capitalist theory. Distributism often feels like a great ideal, but one wonders if it has a realistic grasp of how economics and society actually work. Medaille shows that it can. In fact, it can have a much more realistic grasp than most orthodox capitalist theory. My only caveat, and why I said "or nearly so" above, is that Medaille does very little footnoting in here--no doubt, that is because he wants to write to a broad audience, and does not want to turn them off with all the academic window-dressing. But it means that when I read a claim that seems to make really good sense, but which flies in the face of everything I've been told before, I can't follow the footnotes and verify it for myself. So it's hard to know for sure just how rigorous and respectable the economic theory in this book is. I'll be interested to see how traction this book gains. (The main reason I only give it four stars, though, rather than five, is that I don't want to seem like one of those people who gets carried away with enthusiasm and just gives five stars to everything I really agree with, but only one or two to everything I disagree with.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    I was encouraged to read this economic book by a group outside of GoodReads. Yes, there are people talking about books apart from GR. Without a background in economics, I am in no position to evaluate the negative critiques of various economic systems made by this author. His argument for the adaptation of a “distributist” system left me with many questions that may be clear to anyone with a working understanding of economics. My problem with this book was its handling of half the human race. Me I was encouraged to read this economic book by a group outside of GoodReads. Yes, there are people talking about books apart from GR. Without a background in economics, I am in no position to evaluate the negative critiques of various economic systems made by this author. His argument for the adaptation of a “distributist” system left me with many questions that may be clear to anyone with a working understanding of economics. My problem with this book was its handling of half the human race. Medaille strongly argues from the outset that any viable economic system must be rooted in justice. But he consistently used gender explicit language which relegates women to irrelevance or invisibility. Considering how recently women won the right to be treated as equals under the economic laws of the land, the right to own property, inherit patrimony, sign contracts, cast votes, etc., to be written passively out of the system being described is no trivial matter. It is a matter of basic justice. Furthermore, when discussing the family as an economic unit, the “mother” is presumed to be the full-time domestic labor source. In the section on the just wage, he writes that it should be set at the level which is high enough that there is not a need to “put children and women out to work”. The copyright on this book is 2010 and married women are equated with children and their presence in the work force is viewed as an evil, a sign of economic injustice rather than the full contribution of all the talents and skills present in society. I simply can not take seriously any system claiming to be grounded in justice which treats women in such a dismissive and disrespectful fashion.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Adam Ross

    Some books can ruin you. You had certain thoughts and viewpoints which these books come along and forever ruin for you. This is one of those books. Regardless of what viewpoint you bring to this book, you will emerge the other side confounded as to how you could have believed that viewpoint held water (unless of course you were already a distributist). And there is something for everyone to chew on, left, right, and middle. To summarize the general thesis of the book: Capitalism and Socialism depe Some books can ruin you. You had certain thoughts and viewpoints which these books come along and forever ruin for you. This is one of those books. Regardless of what viewpoint you bring to this book, you will emerge the other side confounded as to how you could have believed that viewpoint held water (unless of course you were already a distributist). And there is something for everyone to chew on, left, right, and middle. To summarize the general thesis of the book: Capitalism and Socialism depend upon the same shared assumptions, just executed in a different way. They both depend on the power of the state to create a monopoly on power, wealth, and control in a community or nation. Both share the belief that wealth and power ought to be concentrated by a select few people, whether of the capitalist form (wherein wealth and power is concentrated in the extremely wealthy who are then protected by the state) or the socialist form (wherein wealth and power is concentrated in the select few who are elected or appointed to govern and who then protect themselves via the power of the state). That is, they both ultimately fail. He also critiques all of economics as a field of study, chiding it for trying to convince us that it is a hard science like physics or environmental science. Economics, however, is a humane science, focused on the study of human behavior (or at least one part of human behavior). Approaching economics as a hard science, he argues, is what creates the abuses of economic theory. Treating capital as an abstract force (rather than something created by labor) allows the business man and capitalist to ignore the central and most important economic factor in all of economic life. The human employee. Labor costs are considered extra, something begrudgingly foisted upon the poor capitalist who otherwise could pay and treat labor any way he so desired. But, Medaille points out, labor is the most vital part of the economy, because capital is not created until you have somebody work with it (a truck cannot produce capital, for example, until you get a driver to take it around to make deliveries). Thus, he argues (cogently), the key to bringing moral justice and reform to the economy and repairing the problems which we have created is to be found in the just wage. That is, wages should be high enough to allow any worker to support a family at an economic level worthy of the dignity and honor that human life demands - enough to support a family, save for the future, and invest in property or business. Such is the Catholic social teaching, and upon such a view the Church has almost always insisted. On this premise, then, he works through the role of government, and how issues like taxation, health care, consumer capitalism, and industrial abuse should be handled and reformed. The book is astonishing, and it will challenge many cherished assumptions. This is a good thing. Go and be ruined.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    I should say before anything else, that I'm not much of an economist so intelligently interacting with Médaille is not easy for me. That said, I'll take a whack at it. Reading Médaille is like reading a Mormon: he uses all the same words you do, but he defines them all differently. When you say capitalism, you mean the free market bound only by the impartial rule of law. When he says capitalism, he means the current American imbroglio. All that to say, reading this book is all kinds of confusing, I should say before anything else, that I'm not much of an economist so intelligently interacting with Médaille is not easy for me. That said, I'll take a whack at it. Reading Médaille is like reading a Mormon: he uses all the same words you do, but he defines them all differently. When you say capitalism, you mean the free market bound only by the impartial rule of law. When he says capitalism, he means the current American imbroglio. All that to say, reading this book is all kinds of confusing, and there were two main things that consistently gave me heartburn while reading it. One, is that he fails to distinguish between capitalism and crony capitalism or Fascism. Note, it isn't that he doesn't distinguish them at all, he is aware of the philosophical difference. It's just that he believes that capitalism leads necessarily to huge government intervention. According to him, free competition leads to the inexorable centralizing of business (because of a few wobbly arguments on pg. 51), which leads to political manipulation which leads to what we have now. That claim was hugely under-proven, but was also the backbone of his argument against capitalism. Second, the difference between legislating rules vs. legislating outcomes with Médaille holding the wrong end of the stick. The end goal of capitalistic free marketers is merely to legislate the rules equitably, trusting to outcomes. The end goal of Distributists is (sometimes actively, sometimes passively) keeping wealth from concentrating in any one point, working towards that outcome. As an analogy, Capitalists want impartial refs, but Médaille is more of a tinkerer- a slightly-too-helpful tech guy in front of the social sound board, who believes that if he could just twirl enough of the knobs in the right direction, we'd all be golden. Being a student of Hayek, it's this tinkering spirit that I'm really opposed to at the end of the day. When Médaille sounds like a free marketer, I can bellow right along with him, but when he starts saying things like "there are clearly cases where government must, in fact, redistribute property (244)" it sounds like he's advocating using the One Ring, "just little bit," and only at greatest need. Phew, we were worried for a minute there, Médaille.

  5. 4 out of 5

    William

    As an exposition of Distributism, Medaille’s book is quite good, but in the end Medaille ultimately fails to offer a workable concept. The book begins as a primer on basic economics. As part of this section, Medaille spends several chapters explaining that money, land, and labour are “fictitious” commodities. At this point Medaille is heavily indebted to Karl Polanyi. The rest of the book gets to the heart of Medaille’s argument and assertions regarding the role of government, taxes, and how Dis As an exposition of Distributism, Medaille’s book is quite good, but in the end Medaille ultimately fails to offer a workable concept. The book begins as a primer on basic economics. As part of this section, Medaille spends several chapters explaining that money, land, and labour are “fictitious” commodities. At this point Medaille is heavily indebted to Karl Polanyi. The rest of the book gets to the heart of Medaille’s argument and assertions regarding the role of government, taxes, and how Distributism relates to matters such as industry and healthcare. So far as Distrubtism goes, Medaille mostly expands on the work of Belloc. But Belloc badly misrepresented the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and ignored the good done by “Capitalism”, even when dominated by cronyism. Belloc’s medieval economic ideal was never equipped to deal with the modern age and a global population of billions. Medaille fails to address these failures in Belloc’s theory. Medaille is at his best when critiquing socialism, cronyism, and the concentration of power at the top of the government food chain. In the chapter on the cost of government, he calls for drastic reductions in the budget, particularly the military, and calls for use taxes to replace today’s funding of many goods. He also offers good critiques of the both the fair tax and the flat tax. Any Capitalist would agree with most of what Medaille says on these points. The problem is that for Medaille Capitalism is Capitalism is Capitalism. Belloc made the same mistake in failing to properly define Capitalism. As a result, Medaille makes many ludicrous assertions: Capitalism and the free market are incompatible; Capitalism implodes without big government to prop it up by fixing its failures; and, ultimately, that Capitalism can’t exist without the support of Socialism. Medaille presents so many mischaracterisations of Capitalism that one might call his book an exercise in straw-man economics. He lumps cronyism and corporatism into a vague “Capitalism” and then declares that it has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. He condemns the Austrian School, but the only Austrian he interacts with is Hayek and chalks him up as a failure, claiming that the Reagan era was rooted in Hayek’s principles. As much as Reagan and his friends may have liked Hayek, any influence by Hayek on actual policy under Reagan was superficial. Medaille never interacts with more important Austrians like Mises or Rothbard. One actually wonders if Medaille is even familiar with Mises or simply chose to ignore him. Medaille explains that between the 1850s and 1940s, the US was in some sort of economic decline 40% of the time and that after the introduction of Keynesian policy post-WWII—to fix what “pure Capitalism” couldn’t get right—the US was only in economic decline 15% of the time. Pure Capitalism can’t work, he asserts. QED. Nevermind that even before WWI, Mises was identifying government interference in the market as the cause of the business cycle. To lump the Austrian and Keynesian school together and then condemn them both is simply irresponsible on Medaille’s part. His statement that Austrian theory leads to socialist practice is absolutely ludicrous. When it comes to “fictitious” commodities, Medaille fails to make his case. Sometimes he contradicts himself. He, for example, defines inflation as meaning simply that prices are rising and that deflation that prices are falling. On the following page, however, he affirms that inflation and deflation are the changes in the value of money. Medaille gives a good explanation of fractional reserve banking and rightly condemns the system as an injustice, but then he goes on to reject gold as a basis for money and appeals for government-printed fiat currency. He even calls for the government to print fiat currency to pay for shortfalls and to monetise the national debt. While he is right that this is less inflationary than creation of money through fractional reserves, it misses the point one would think obvious to someone concerned about justice in the market: fiat currency is inherently unjust because of its inflationary nature. As I said, Medaille has good things to say about the current tax structure, but he unfortunately recommends replacing the current system with a Georgist system of taxes on land rents. Medaille insists that we must do away with land rents and the best way to do it, while at the same time funding government, is to tax them. There are plenty of problems with this idea, not least that you can’t fund government for very long with a tax meant to eliminate the thing being taxed. Additionally, the problem with a Georgist tax is that there really is no reliable way to determine the unimproved value of improved land as Georgists define it. Values are subjective. Period. This gets to the other problem here: One of Medaille’s key assertions is that wealth not created by some productive endeavor is immoral. As a result, Medaille considers land rents immoral: resources that should be used for production are being reserved by the slothful, creating inefficiency and economic injustice. Property must be, more-or-less, equally divided amongst those who produce things to work best. This, of course, is simply an impossibility so long as people are born and die and so long as people are free to do with their property as they please—like sell it to someone who aspires to be a large landholder. Medaille also neglects to mention that in the United States, the government is the single largest holder of land. Medaille’s other key idea is that of the “just wage”. While he stresses many times that both capital and labour deserve a just wage, one is left with the impression that he ultimately sides with labour on this (and most) issues. He defines a just wage as labour and capital taking out of the system in consumption no more than what they put in by production. I see two primary problems here. The first is that Medaille insists on being vague about this, claiming there are too many variables. He restricts himself to simply saying that workers (and their families) should live at a level of dignity for their society, that they do so without wives and children having to work, that they have security against unemployment and old age, and that they should accomplish this without undue reliance on welfare and debt. Again, this is pretty vague. (I might also add that his model of the family with father working and mother at home with the kids is a 20th Century model that hardly fits with the model family of the Middle Ages at the centre of Belloc’s Distributism.) The second problem is one that Medaille asserts elsewhere, but fails to factor in at this point: There is simply no reliable means of determining precisely what any one factor contributes to production. Belloc’s failure—one of many—is that he was never able to explain how a Distributist economy could be introduced. He wrote that to impose the system top-down “would so disturb the network of economic relations as to bring ruin to the body politic.” To do it slowly was even more problematic. Medaille makes no advances on Belloc here. Belloc was correct at least on this point: to impose this system would require a totalitarian state and draconian measures and, even if done, there is simply no way to determine justly what should be allocated and to whom. Medaille claims (wrongly!) that Capitalism is a failure because it requires the interference of government to keep it working, but he admits himself that Distributism, in exactly the same way, requires at least a Georgist system to surivive, let along to be put in place. Belloc also affirmed that it would take a totalitarian regime to impose it in the first place. There is absolutely nothing free about such a market.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Donald Linnemeyer

    Written by an experienced businessman/corporate manager, this is a much more practical book from the distributist angle. Unfortunately, it's an introductory-level book, designed to explain the very basics of distributist economics. It accomplishes that goal quite well, assuming almost no economic knowledge going in (the author even explains basic supply and demand theory), but as a result, Medaille doesn't dig deep enough in most areas. He has some very brief suggestions for solving certain econ Written by an experienced businessman/corporate manager, this is a much more practical book from the distributist angle. Unfortunately, it's an introductory-level book, designed to explain the very basics of distributist economics. It accomplishes that goal quite well, assuming almost no economic knowledge going in (the author even explains basic supply and demand theory), but as a result, Medaille doesn't dig deep enough in most areas. He has some very brief suggestions for solving certain economic problems in America and very quickly describes some distributist economics in the modern world (employee-owned factories in Italy, for example). But the book is spread too thin and ultimately raises more questions about the practice of distributism than it answers. It's interesting, though; distributism is so localist and ethically-driven, it may just take implementing the basic ideas to actually figure out the details. Since the specifics will vary depending on the situation, there's probably no way to provide a top-down handbook for implementing distributism. More detailed case studies, though, would be nice.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    On par with G.K. Chesterton's book, outline of sanity. I learned more about economics reading the first 100 pages than I ever did in my college Econ class. Mr. Medaille puts Capitalism into perspective, and shows how we have not lived in a pure Capitalism in almost 100 years (if ever). Big Business and Big Government go hand-in-hand and private ownership of productive property keeps getting rarer and rarer. The solution is Distributism, championed by Chesterton and Belloc, and made modern by Med On par with G.K. Chesterton's book, outline of sanity. I learned more about economics reading the first 100 pages than I ever did in my college Econ class. Mr. Medaille puts Capitalism into perspective, and shows how we have not lived in a pure Capitalism in almost 100 years (if ever). Big Business and Big Government go hand-in-hand and private ownership of productive property keeps getting rarer and rarer. The solution is Distributism, championed by Chesterton and Belloc, and made modern by Medaille. This form of economics deals with economics in real terms; the terms of family and freedom.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Moses

    Lucid as far as it goes, but it's a small book looking to start a big movement. I've met and interviewed Mr. Medaille, and he seems lucid too. I'd love to see more from him on this topic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    "I been a-wonderin' why we can't do that all over. All work together for our own thing, all farm our own lan'.[...] I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin' fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin'. And I been wonderin' if all our folks got together and yelled..." (Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath) Toward a Truly Free Market argues for an economic system based on neither an unmoderated free market nor an a "I been a-wonderin' why we can't do that all over. All work together for our own thing, all farm our own lan'.[...] I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin' fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin'. And I been wonderin' if all our folks got together and yelled..." (Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath) Toward a Truly Free Market argues for an economic system based on neither an unmoderated free market nor an authoritarian command structure, but on moral principles that put human needs, not ideological purity, at the center. At the heart of these principles is the concept of distributive justice. After sketching out the general problems of conventional economics, Medaille claims that capitalism and socialism are more alike than different. The constant lack of equilibrium in a capitalist economy, the fact that labor is never paid enough to ‘clear the markets’, dooms capitalism to a series of booms and busts, and it is that cycle that distributive justice is intended to remedy, because attempts to 'fix' capitalism through intervention have only led, to increased economic and political power in the hands of a few. Toward a Truly Free Market offers a fairly comprehensible 'third way' to economics, one that defies partisan labels and offers a humane vision for the future. The distrubist worldview envisions a society in which both political power and the ownership of production (on which political power depends) are as widely distributed as possible. In this society, no one is an employee; almost everyone has an owner's stake in society, whether in the form of a family farm, a small business, or membership in a cooperative. The idea doesn't originate with Medaille; although aspects of it have been imagined since modernity began (Thomas Jefferson's agrarianism, for instance), it was argued for under the name Distributism beginning in the 19th century -- as part of the Roman Catholic church's social doctrine. Then, Catholic authors like G.K. Chesterton argued for it as a moral alternative. as a system that would protect the integrity and autonomy of the family against both the ravages of factory dependence and state socialism; now, with distributist ideas developing a life of their own outside the Church, Medaille takes an economic tack by first examining the weakness of economics without justice, which attempts to reduce land, people, and money to commodities, and then explaining the principles of distributive justice, moving from the general to the particular. While classical economics begins with the material ("Economics is the study of how scarce resources with alternative uses are distributed"), distributist economics begins with people: Medaille describes an economy as how a society is provisioned. His criticisms of socialism and capitalism bear out that provisioning isn't necessarily material; he laments over the destruction of local economies, the brokenness of families, working long hours at jobs which offer no meaningful compensation, only a paycheck, and the fact that people at all levels of society, from the family up through the neighborhood, city, and state become increasingly dependent on the national government, leading to the death of civic society as Citizens become clients and case numbers. This is true whether the system chosen is capitalism or socialism, Medaille's solution includes "remoralizing the market, relocalizing the economy, recapitalizing the poor, and reinvigorating local politics". Operating principles of distributism include solidarity, or the belief that political decisions should be handled by the smallest capable agent; thus, a city would be responsible for its schools, and a state for its highways. Medaille elaborates on how distributive ideas can inform taxation, industry, healthcare, and government policy. Although he sees a place for government (keeping the currency sound, pricing in externalities, national defense), distributism rejects a top-heavy state. Politics, like a house, must work from the ground up, from civic participation to tax funding. That funding comes not from income or property, but on the land itself. Decentralization is a recurring theme; Medaille's idea on fixing healthcare includes having a range of licenses, beginning with the quasi-medical and progressing to doctors of medicine) not only would this allow more people to enter the medical field, as they could more easily move between study and practice (a given person might take a license as a midwife, and then use that to pay for more advanced training in obtstritcs or general medicine), but it would result in better healthcare over all, as seasoned and highly-trained doctors would only see problems that could not be resolved at the lower levels. He advocates for an end to "supply-push" economics, in which companies produce a given number of goods and then use advertising to gin up interest in them, when general-purpose machinery that can adapt to produce anything that is needed by the local economy ("demand-pull") is a more intelligent and just use of finite resources. Otherwise we are merely producing landfill. Toward a Truly Free Market is a fascinating book. The beginning is the most challenging,with the discussion of the 'distributive' and 'corrective' aspects of justice, and the difference between use-values and exchange values, but understanding what the author means by justice is rewarding once he begins writing about a system that is based on it. Although distributism proper began in the Catholic church, being developed in papal encyclicals, I've encountered its ideas in various and sundry places: James Howard Kunstler wrote on the virtue of Georgist taxation in The Geography of Nowhere, Chuck Marohn of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns is a firm believer in subsidarity, and the push for local economies, especially local food movements, is gaining serious traction in the environmental and health movements. Although some aspects were more harder to imagine, like the revival of guilds or the practicality of cooperatives, Medaille includes sections on communities like the Mondragon Cooperation which put these principles to work. Although there's some economics to digest, the book picks up steam as it moves toward public policy. A fly in the ointment is that Medaille assumes readers have heard of distributism; he doesn't elaborate on it at the start. He develops the idea throughout the book, so strangers won't be lost, but they have to be willing to jump in. This is perhaps explainable given the book's Catholic publisher; since distributism is part of the Church's social doctrine, it almost has a ready-made audience. The claim that capitalism and the state have an unavoidably symbiotic relationship with one another could have used further development; I've heard the same claim from hard-left circles, too, and would be interested in understanding the full reason why. Medaille operates on the idea that the state is necessary to keep capitalism from destroying itself, but Hayekians believe capitalism would have worked out its inner inconsistencies if meddling interventionists didn't keep getting in the way, like suppressing a fever that's intended to kill an infection. (Medaille takes more than a few shots at the Austrian School throughout, which is amusing given that Hayek drew on a distributist work, The Servile State, in his The Road to Serfdom. ) Many national-level reforms mentioned here don't have a prayer of materializing in the current political climate, but a philosophy as locally-focused as distributism can get along. Determined people can build little sanctuaries of restoration in their own communities, with or without government sanction; even urbanites can relocalize their food, and cooperatives of all kinds are possible, and already in practice. There's a lot of cause for hope here, and Medaille offers a thoughtful criticism of our current system which is outside the usual complaints. Related: Books and essays by Wendell Berry small is beautiful, E.F. Schumacher

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Speak

    An excellent introduction to distributism--and a great rundown of economics in general. Medaille's take on the various systems--communism, socialism, Austrian capitalism, Keynesianism, mercantilism, etc., is enlightening. I enjoyed his definition that the success of any system can only be measured in how it supports the basic block of any economy--the family. Breaking down economics as a humane science, rather than a hard science like physics, Medaille attempts to show how each of the systems ha An excellent introduction to distributism--and a great rundown of economics in general. Medaille's take on the various systems--communism, socialism, Austrian capitalism, Keynesianism, mercantilism, etc., is enlightening. I enjoyed his definition that the success of any system can only be measured in how it supports the basic block of any economy--the family. Breaking down economics as a humane science, rather than a hard science like physics, Medaille attempts to show how each of the systems has its limits and ultimately is bound to fail in the long run. I would have liked a bit more info about why he thinks the status quo will fail eventually. He makes that statement but doesn't back it up with much evidence. He says we continually fall back on Keynesianism whenever times get rough, mostly because it has worked in the past and continues to work. But he says we will come upon a time when government and corporations will be too big for it to work forever. I would have liked that argument to be fleshed-out a bit more. I won't go into his explanation of how distributism works, but I will say it's an exciting idea. In short, it has a lot to do with localizing economies, breaking up corporate monopolies, and shrinking the federal government, replacing taxes with usage fees and "rents," and bringing power back to the workers. There is much here to love and hate for both conservatives and liberals, I would imagine. I don't know if I came away from this book feeling like I had found the golden ticket to all our ailments, but somehow I think that might have been part of the point he was making. He avoids the cheap fallacious arguments found in many such books (i.e. taxation as theft, etc) and sticks to reasoned logic. Overall, it's a rigorous work that is well worth exploring.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Winston Elliott III

    Our friends at ISI Books have recently published a very interesting new book entitled Toward A Truly Free Market. Author John Médaille describes the theme of the book this way: "Economics, or more properly, political economy, cannot be a proper science unless it is a humane science; to be a humane science it must embody some notion of justice, and particularly of distributive justice. Indeed, as a practical matter as well as a theoretical one, there can be no balance between supply and demand wit Our friends at ISI Books have recently published a very interesting new book entitled Toward A Truly Free Market. Author John Médaille describes the theme of the book this way: "Economics, or more properly, political economy, cannot be a proper science unless it is a humane science; to be a humane science it must embody some notion of justice, and particularly of distributive justice. Indeed, as a practical matter as well as a theoretical one, there can be no balance between supply and demand without distributive justice; the moral question and the economic question are, in reality, one question." ISI describes the book thus: "For three decades free-market leaders have tried to reverse longstanding Keynesian economic policies, but have only produced larger government, greater debt, and more centralized economic power. So how can we achieve a truly free-market system, especially at this historical moment when capitalism seems to be in crisis? The answer, says John C. Médaille, is to stop pretending that economics is something on the order of the physical sciences; it must be a humane science, taking into account crucial social contexts. Toward a Truly Free Market argues that any attempt to divorce economic equilibrium from economic equity will lead to an unbalanced economy—one that falls either to ruin or to ruinous government attempts to redress the balance. Médaille makes a refreshingly clear case for the economic theory—and practice—known as distributism. Unlike many of his fellow distributists, who argue primarily from moral terms, Médaille enters the economic debate on purely economic terms. Toward a Truly Free Market shows exactly how to end the bailouts, reduce government budgets, reform the tax code, fix the health-care system, and much more." John Médaille's approach is very much in the tradition of Chesteron, Belloc and Fr. McNabb. He has a fresh and expanded approach to their views of political economy which deserves our attention. The passage from Toward A Truly Free Market below certainly describes our current economic crisis. Economic equilibrium cannot be divorced from economic equity, and the attempt to do so will lose both equity and equilibrium; the economy will be unable to balance itself, and so will either fall to ruin, or to ruinous government attempts to redress the balance. ISI also posted an excellent short interview with the author of "Toward A Truly Free Market" on ISI Books (http://www.isi.org/books/bookdetail.a...),

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

    I'm going to need to read it again. I got it because I wanted a practical introduction to Distributism, and this fit the bill. I consider myself a well-read, partly self-taught, libearl arts major. So I don't have a background in economics other than what I've encountered in the course of a life of non-specialist reading. This book gave an overview of economic theory, which I was mostly able to follow, and found mostly helpful. Some parts I need to review, and see if they become clearer on a sec I'm going to need to read it again. I got it because I wanted a practical introduction to Distributism, and this fit the bill. I consider myself a well-read, partly self-taught, libearl arts major. So I don't have a background in economics other than what I've encountered in the course of a life of non-specialist reading. This book gave an overview of economic theory, which I was mostly able to follow, and found mostly helpful. Some parts I need to review, and see if they become clearer on a second reading (land rent and Georgist taxation, money creation, and a few others). Some things were as enlightening as a bolt from the blue. I was surprised at the degree of commonality with some libertarian theory. Other things could have used a much deeper explanation. I found myself yelling at the book a few times. Perhaps re-reading it will make things clearer. Some of the policy prescriptions were a little vague, and some things were downright counterintuitive. For example, the author, raised in NYC, seems to want everyone to have the same experience of museums and such being only a cheap subway ride away; he never goes into how this can be accomplished while still allowing everyone to own property. He also retails the argument that city taxes pay for highways, making this a subsidy to suburban living that is destroying cities. First off, lots of us hate the dense conditions of cities (you couldn't pay me to live in Manhattan); and second, as a NJ boy, I find it hard to believe that taxes on Newark and Camden, Paterson and Trenton, are supporting my suburban living - rather the opposite, I think. It's also not exactly clear but it appears his banking reform would eliminate consumer credit (including car loans and home mortgages?) entirely. Perhaps tax reform and earning a just wage might make such large purchases affordable in the absence of credit, but this isn't really made clear. Nor is there any suggestion on how we get to the just wage. In the end, I left the book feeling some frustration, but also some enlightenment. It gets 4 stars because it far and away exceeded what I wanted to get from it, even if it left me wanting more.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fr. Ted

    Because I have never studied economics, it is hard for me to give a fair evaluation to Medaille's book. I learned somethings from the book, and certainly he points out problems with our current economic thinking and with capitalism as it now exists. Medaille writes from the point of view of a Distributist, economic thinking which perhaps would be embraced by Libertarians but also is based in Roman Catholic social ethics. Medaille argues forcefully for a "just wage" as the key to ethical economic Because I have never studied economics, it is hard for me to give a fair evaluation to Medaille's book. I learned somethings from the book, and certainly he points out problems with our current economic thinking and with capitalism as it now exists. Medaille writes from the point of view of a Distributist, economic thinking which perhaps would be embraced by Libertarians but also is based in Roman Catholic social ethics. Medaille argues forcefully for a "just wage" as the key to ethical economics. Distributists are not arguing for "redistribution" of wealth, they are opposed to socialism, but they also are opposed to the tendency toward a few mega-multinational corporations which control a huge portion of the world's and our nation's wealth. Companies "too big to fail" are often larger, wealthier and more powerful than many sovereign nations. The only entity big enough to deal with them comes to be "big government." Medaille presents the picture that the big government that "conservatives" hate is necessitated by the big industries they also support. He also feels that ultimately the labor masses have little recourse to any protection from any of this except socialism, thus socialism is a direct result of capitalism. He is very critical of the capitalist system that currently exists and thinks the current world problems are not a temporary anomaly but rather are the end result of years of the capitalist systems reliance on bigger business and big government. There have been an awful lot of "bailouts" lately - government bailing out banks and industry, banks bailing out government. And all of these are "too big to fail" which Medaille sees as a main problem. Distributist thinking advocates not socialism but more people sharing the wealth and the power rather than concentrating wealth and power in the few.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Skipr

    I had never heard of "distributism" until I heard an interview last year on Mars Hill Audio Journal with John Medaille the author of this book. If I had heard of distributism as an economic system, I probably thought it was about REdistributing wealth, in other words, socialism. But, it turns out that's not it at all. This book is a fantastic introduction to and defense of distributism as an alternative to the our current economic structure. Medaille makes the case that capitalism needs big gove I had never heard of "distributism" until I heard an interview last year on Mars Hill Audio Journal with John Medaille the author of this book. If I had heard of distributism as an economic system, I probably thought it was about REdistributing wealth, in other words, socialism. But, it turns out that's not it at all. This book is a fantastic introduction to and defense of distributism as an alternative to the our current economic structure. Medaille makes the case that capitalism needs big government, and in fact, cannot survive without ever increasing power at the national level. The tax structure associated with this capitalist-big government complex inevitably leads to ever increasing debt. Socialism gets no mercy from Medaille either. At the root of the problems with all of these systems is that economists across the conservative - liberal spectrum made a fundamental error when they tried to redefine economics without a moral dimension that includes justice as a core concern. Classical economics over the past two centuries has attempted to treat land and labor as mere commodities. But they're not. They're much more than that. Read this book if you're tired of the same old conservative-liberal economic proposals that have gotten us into the mess we're now in. The distributists may just be showing us a way off of this dead-end street.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Harris

    John C. Medaille, brings forward an economic idea from the late 19th early 20th century, whose most well-known proponent was the inimitable Catholic public intellectual G.K. Chesterton, called "Distributism". It is essentially an alternative to capitalism (or, one version of it anyway) and Socialism. The gist of it can be summed up as various strategies for local-ism(s) -- except not as an argument for personal lifestyle -- but as a grander plan for societal organization. I am in some sympathy wit John C. Medaille, brings forward an economic idea from the late 19th early 20th century, whose most well-known proponent was the inimitable Catholic public intellectual G.K. Chesterton, called "Distributism". It is essentially an alternative to capitalism (or, one version of it anyway) and Socialism. The gist of it can be summed up as various strategies for local-ism(s) -- except not as an argument for personal lifestyle -- but as a grander plan for societal organization. I am in some sympathy with the spirit of the book, because it is based on Catholic social doctrine. (I am a big fan of subsidiarity.) But, I have my doubts as to its practicality. Our, "complex system" is just that. So I think, (assuming we don't collapse) any reform has to be through the market itself -- which is to say, we have to socially evolve away from the things in capitalism which cause things we don't like -- into preferable (and profitable) alternatives. Thus, the book while providing examples, offers no practical transition that I could apprehend.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book really made me think, which is why I gave it 4 stars. I am not going to say I agree with everything this book says. For example, the author says to save money we should pull all troops from overseas and close bases. While I agree that we send excess military aid, I do not think pulling back to a pre-WWI posture is the answer. I do, however, agree with the author's idea pushing the taxing and paying for government services to the lowest level. The book will upset big government progress This book really made me think, which is why I gave it 4 stars. I am not going to say I agree with everything this book says. For example, the author says to save money we should pull all troops from overseas and close bases. While I agree that we send excess military aid, I do not think pulling back to a pre-WWI posture is the answer. I do, however, agree with the author's idea pushing the taxing and paying for government services to the lowest level. The book will upset big government progressives and small government conservatives alike. It is truly a middle-ground. While I am sure the author's ideas will never pass with our current congress, it would be a great starting point for intelligent reform discussions. Definitely an interesting read if your tired of hearing the worn out political arguments of no government is better or government is the only answer. There is a mix and this book is an intelligent starting point.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason Hall

    Medaille makes a compelling case for Distributism as a serious approach to economics. This is a perfect book for anyone who has dismissed Distributism as a serious option or who is simply tired of the usual (and largely pointless) economic debates that dominate American politics. My only complaint, and it is a small one, is that the chapters on practical proposals, while very good, fell short of the standard set by the earlier chapters on the problems with Keynesian and Austrian economics. The r Medaille makes a compelling case for Distributism as a serious approach to economics. This is a perfect book for anyone who has dismissed Distributism as a serious option or who is simply tired of the usual (and largely pointless) economic debates that dominate American politics. My only complaint, and it is a small one, is that the chapters on practical proposals, while very good, fell short of the standard set by the earlier chapters on the problems with Keynesian and Austrian economics. The reason for that is clearly that Medaille doesn't want to stray beyond his own expertise, and he should be commended for that. I hope books like this encourage people with greater policy expertise to pick up where Medaille left off and propose serious solutions to our current and future economic challenges.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I refuse to rate this book. A lot of definitional questions and reading would need to be done before that. I have both positive and negative feelings. I like the idea in the abstract of re-introducing notions of justice and morality into an economic system. It does seem he has a point that free-market capitalists emphasize exchange justice, but once you start talking about currency and value of work, you're talking about more than just survival value. On the other hand, some shrill rhetoric, stro I refuse to rate this book. A lot of definitional questions and reading would need to be done before that. I have both positive and negative feelings. I like the idea in the abstract of re-introducing notions of justice and morality into an economic system. It does seem he has a point that free-market capitalists emphasize exchange justice, but once you start talking about currency and value of work, you're talking about more than just survival value. On the other hand, some shrill rhetoric, strong statements in the last chapter, no dealing with anything but the crony-capitalism, and just a poor writer. I'm intrigued by the guilds, but I wonder whether he has truly escaped the romanticism of localism. Ah well, I need to read more books.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Myers

    Excellent start on making distributist economic theory accessible and understood as having workable solutions to current problems. I call it a "start"; there is room here for a much fuller expansion upon Medaille's work. I did not personally agree with all of Medaille's suggestions or think that some of them--though fascinating--were adequately detailed in this introductory book. The book does, however, provide what is (in my opinion) a necessary third option for conversation--one that steps awa Excellent start on making distributist economic theory accessible and understood as having workable solutions to current problems. I call it a "start"; there is room here for a much fuller expansion upon Medaille's work. I did not personally agree with all of Medaille's suggestions or think that some of them--though fascinating--were adequately detailed in this introductory book. The book does, however, provide what is (in my opinion) a necessary third option for conversation--one that steps away from the polarized Left/Right paradigms that dominate contemporary American politics. Highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Irwin

    I really believe this book lays out a alternative paradigm that our crumbling world must consider seriously. Communism failed in 1989, lassie-faire capitalism in 1929, and now bail out capitalism must die. Theories that look perfect always leave out more than they include and our current system leaves out alot and just doesn't work when the rubber hits the road. Its time that the global community tried a new experiment.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    Medaille makes some good points but when he stated that people should be allowed to run restaurants out of their kitchen and that neighborhoods can put the tools they find in the garages together to compete effectively with factories, that worried me. I don't think his fixes to the economy would work with human beings, who might be even MORE able to effectively game the new system that he had created than the one it replaced.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul Smith

    A good intro to distribution, although I feel he oversimplified the way government impacts the situation we face today and offers major surgery as a solution sheet done tweaks could accomplish a similar result with less pain.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Excellent overview of the distributist perspective from a more purely economic point of view, rather than a strictly moral and historical view. Debunks capitalist and socialist myths and points to ways of stabilizing our economy that are both theoretically sound and practically proven.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brad Belschner

    Fascinating introduction to a unique synthesis of Chesterton + Henry George + Karl Polanyi + MMT (Modern Monetary Theory).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Middlethought

  26. 4 out of 5

    pk

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ted

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris Aberle

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stockfish

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joe

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.