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Filthy Lucre Hardcover – Apr 13 2009

6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (April 13 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554683955
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554683956
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #276,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


?[Heath and Potter] are the genuine article: intellectual martyrs fighting the good fight.?

(Rex Murphy on The Rebel Sell)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By GoonMoon on Sept. 8 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Heath wrote Enlightenment 2.0 which is an excellent, well written, well researched book and this is why I bought Filthy Lucre. The subject matter for Filthy Lucre is excellent, but firstly: Mr Heath apologizes too much for not being an economist but then writes as if he is an economist - if you're going to write as if an expert, be an expert, perhaps get an economics degree? or stop apologizing. Secondly: many of the examples he uses in Filthy Lucre to explain his point are rather poor and pithy - i.e. drowning babies in a pool for money - this is the best example he could come up with to explain a point?? This book needs more research, homework, rewrites and thought. This book could have been an excellent read on an important subject, but failed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sfwalsh on Sept. 17 2013
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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