THE VAMPIRE STATE by Fred Block

THE VAMPIRE STATE

and Other Myths and Fallacies About the U.S. Economy
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An ultraliberal academic's immodest proposal for a new world socioeconomic order--one appreciably more statist than those envisioned by Plato in his Republic or Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan. Before presenting his against-the-grain initiatives, Block (The Mean Season, 1987, etc.) engages in an extended rant as to how right-wing extremists have falsely convinced large segments of the American electorate that the US government is a malefic vampire sucking the domestic economy's lifeblood. In aid of this arguable premise, the author (Sociology/Univ. of Calif., Davis) cites examples of so-called conventional wisdom he deems irrational, if not mad. Cases in point range from faith in balanced federal budgets, deregulation, free markets, low taxes, and unrestricted trade through an abiding antipathy to activist governance and inflationary procedures. Block dismisses any notion that deficits depress private-sector investment, affect savings rates, or cause other of the financial harms ascribed to them. Getting down to business, Block obligingly furnishes a detailed agenda that could put the country on course toward a practical utopia (a term whose oxymoronic character he concedes). He would make managed trade and fixed currency-exchange rates hallmarks of foreign policy. On the home front, he would introduce wage controls to keep the aggregate compensation of top corporate executives at no more than 25 times that of low-income or jobless individuals and cut the work week (possibly in half). Expressly wary of elitist, individualist entrepreneurs, Block would also use the power of government to encourage establishment of a network of small firms and cooperatives. In time, he asserts, his incentive-free revolution could be taken global. A wish-list tract amounting to the triumph of hope over experience for its trust in the constructive capacities of big government.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1996
ISBN: 1-56584-193-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1996