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Filthy Lucre [Paperback]

Joseph Heath
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.99
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Book Description

April 12 2010
Economists have a bad reputation. Not only do they assume that everyone is selfinterested and amoral, they are almost always cheerleaders for the free market. As a result, most people who do not already share their beliefs ignore everything that economists have to say. This is a problem. Even among the highly educated, economics is a minefield of fallacies and errors. Among those who know little about the subject—a group that includes the average taxpayer and consumer, as well as most journalists, political activists and politicians—almost every widely held belief is false. The level of economic illiteracy is stunning.
      Filthy Lucre aims to level the playing the field and, in this time of enormous market volatility and unprecedented instability, raise our level of economic literacy. Drawing on everyday examples to skewer the six favourite economic fallacies of the right and then the left, we learn why the right wing so wrongly believes that capitalism is the natural order of things, that any tax cut is a good tax cut, and that personal responsibility can solve any problem. And, contrary to how the left feels, why we must resist the urge to fiddle with prices, why the pursuit of profit is not such a bad thing, and why, despite efforts to improve or even fix wages, some jobs will always suck.

Frequently Bought Together

Filthy Lucre + Enlightenment 2.0 + Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't Be Jammed
Price For All Three: CDN$ 47.63

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Product Description

Quill & Quire

Like many things around us, the free-market system is a mechanism we blithely ignore until something goes wrong with it. So it’s no surprise that the recent economic downturn has also seen a rise in books on capitalism, finance, and the market. Filthy Lucre is another addition to this expanding field. In it, Joseph Heath, co-author (with Andrew Potter) of The Rebel Sell, addresses some of the popular misconceptions that surround economic debates. Contrary to its subtitle, Heath’s book isn’t just for activists and Naomi Klein acolytes. He spends about half his time debunking myths held by the right: government should get out of the way of markets, competition and Adam Smith’s invisible hand improve efficiency. Misconceptions regarding moral hazard and risk in a free-market system is a particularly timely topic, as experts of all stripes try to pin blame for the sub-prime mortgage crisis on everything from individual homeowners to banks and mortgage lenders to the government itself. Heath doesn’t spare those on the left, either. By the time he’s done, cherished progressive tenets such as the need to fix prices, the psychopathic nature of corporations, and the inevitability of capitalism’s collapse have all been thoroughly dismantled. An associate professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, Heath isn’t a professional economist, but he writes convincingly about a number of basic economic ideas. More importantly, he explains them in a manner that should be emulated by writers of economics textbooks. He employs a logician’s ruthlessness and cold calculation, but underneath all of that are flashes of Heath’s anger that so many fiercely opinionated and seemingly well-educated experts on both ends of the political spectrum can espouse so many flawed ideas. Here’s hoping that Heath’s book will promote a better understanding of economics and capitalism. If he’s right, we’ll be living with this system for a very long time. It might be nice to know how to fix it the next time it breaks down. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"This is a terrific book, courteous, clear, witty and fair. . . . Heath has an almost [Adam] Smithian sense of the sophistication of human motivation."

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, misleading subtitle Sept. 8 2009
I bought this book because I'd read one of the author's previous books, The Efficient Society, which I'd enjoyed. Had I not recognized the author's name I probably would have passed on it, because it sounded as though it might be a 300 page assault on capitalism. That would have been a mistake, because this is one of the best books on economics for the lay reader I've ever read. Whereas the subtitle suggests you might be in for a partisan polemic of some kind, what you get instead is a subtle, incisive and extremely balanced analysis of some key economic arguments. Heath's approach is to focus on fallacies commonly trotted out by those on both the left and the right of the political divide. The first half of the book sees the author standing firm on the ramparts of rationality, lacerating some of the beguiling, self-serving and false arguments frequently forwarded by right wingers who assert (roughly) that the market always knows best and that the rich and poor tend to deserve the stations in which they find themselves. But in the second half he turns the tables and lays into an equal number of fallacies from the bleeding heart half of modern society. At almost all stages, he offers clarity and insight. Even as someone who has done a lot of reading in this field, I found myself thinking about some new ideas, and about some old ideas in a new way. I say "almost" because I found the section on libertarianism a little too hurried for my liking; it could have benefited from a couple of extra pages.

Overall, this is not only an entertaining and illuminating field; it would possibly be the best all-round introduction for those who have read little about economics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on economics ever. Sept. 17 2013
By sfwalsh
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is without a doubt the best book on economics I've ever read. Joseph Heath brings and alternative perspective to the world of economics and dispells many of the falacies held on both the right and left, presenting a balanced view.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read May 5 2013
By Kayla
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Introduction to some interesting economic ideas. Not as repetitive as some other popular intro econ books. Especially good read for Canadians since the author is Canadian and draws a great deal from Canadian examples.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Nov. 20 2011
Ce livre critique les arguments classiques de la droite et de la gauche, et ébranlera les convictions des deux côtés du spectre politique. Écrit avec clarté, concision et humour, ce livre est essentiel à cette époque où l'économie est à la fois omniprésente au c'ur du débat public et si peu comprise de l'ensemble de la population. Joseph Heath jette ici, comme dans ses autres livres, un éclairage nouveau sur les problématiques majeures de notre discours politique.
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