Diamond (Whole Worlds Could Pass Away, 2017, etc.) sets out to debunk the patriarchy of capitalism in this nonfiction work aimed at women.
Capitalism, throughout history, has kept women from pursuing an equal or gainful role in the creation and accumulation of wealth, according to the author. Even today, she says, societal norms discourage women from taking an interest in economic affairs. As she writes in her introduction, when it comes to the economic discussions, “letting yourself doze off is as dangerous as sleeping with a huge python in the house. Only when a greater number of women understand economic secrets, muffled by slithery language, will we find the political will to transform them.” To that end, she offers a crash course in basic economic theory along with investigative dives into how women and minorities have been shut out of economic growth, the cause and fallout of the 2008 global recession, and the ways in which the economy could be fixed to work better for everyone. Mixing personal narrative, history, definitions, and entertaining comic-strip asides, illustrated by Todd, Diamond encourages women to get informed, to get angry, and to talk about wresting control of society from the oppressive “EconoMan.” Diamond writes in a peppy, accessible prose that brings clarity to complex subjects: “Voilà! It’s free market magic. The bias of sexism and racism is easily eliminated,” she says while explaining economist Milton Friedman’s theory of the cost of prejudice. “You see how this works for us, girls?” But for all these flourishes, the author doesn’t shy away from tackling complex (and sometimes-dry) economic ideas. Diamond claims to be merely an amateur economist, but her experience as a novelist, journalist, and professor are all brought to bear to demystify difficult concepts, such as Pareto efficiency (“Pareto basically said that an allocation of resources is efficient if as a result, one individual is better off, and no individual is worse off”). Diamond’s wit and charm, combined with Todd’s quirky art, succeed in creating an economic primer that’s both informative and fun.
A smart, comprehensive economics guide with a feminist twist.