What is Economix?
Economix is a graphic novel by Michael Goodwin, illustrated by Dan E. Burr, that explains the economy. More than a cartoon version of a textbook, Economix gives the whole story of the economy, from the rise of capitalism to Occupy Wall Street. Economix is published by Abrams Comic Arts.
Praise for Economix
“I just cannot stress enough how amazing this book is.”
–James Floyd Kelly, Wired.com
“It’s simply phenomenal.”
– David Bach, author of Debt Free for Life and The Automatic Millionaire
“Goodwin has done the seemingly impossible–he has made economics comprehensible and funny.”
– Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
“An amazing lesson in true-world economics! Delightfully presented, powerful, insightful, and important information. What a fun way to fathom a deep and often dark subject”
– John Perkins, author of Hoodwinked and the New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
“Economix is a lively, cheerfully opinionated romp through the historical and intellectual foundations of our current economy and our current economic problems. Goodwin has a knack for distilling complex ideas and events in ways that invite the reader to follow the big picture without losing track of what actually happened. Any reader wondering how our economy got to where it is today will find this a refreshing overview.”
– Timothy W. Guinnane, Philip Golden Bartlett Professor of Economic History, Yale University
More praise for Economix
Open Culture is an awesome website that I’ve been frequenting ever since I found out about it. It’s devoted to bringing together all of the interesting, free things on the internet that you’d never find otherwise. So, younger readers, it’s like a cat video site, but it’s not all videos, and the videos are of things like Marina Abramovic briefly reuniting with an old lover after two decades.
And Dan Colman has drawn his readers’ attention to Economix! Even better, there’s a link to a free preview edition that gives the Adam Smith section. If you want to see what the book is about, check it out!
Salon has an article by the awesome Alex Pareene about the decline of the Heritage Foundation, which has gone from a semi-sane, practical conservative think tank (the one that invented Obamacare) to a right-wing nutjob one (the one that puts billboards on Times Square warning against the horrors of Obamacare).
Apparently, this shift has coincided with the arrival of some MBA-weilding Young Turks who basically think they have all the answers and don’t listen to people who are actually, you know, scholars. The real scholars are leaving, or at least quotably complaining, as the new leadership imposes business methods. In practice, “business methods” mean taking what’s most valuable right now (the Heritage email list) and exploiting it to the full.
And if the email list was only valuable because of Heritage’s reputation, and will lose its value if that reputation goes under, that’s more than a quarter into the future, so who cares?
Now: what Pareene rightly points out is that this is exactly what the Heritage Foundation demands we do to every other institution–universities, government departments, schools, whatever. Using “business methods” is supposed to unleash the magic of the market.
It’s just interesting how so many of them object to being at the mercy of some business school assholes with no respect for credentials or experience, though. I mean, take it from this inspiring Heritage Foundation ode to the wonderful work of private equity firms, which “make something busted luster again,” mostly by firing everyone: “Whatever the problems, if under the flaws remains something of real value, then with the right tools, that value can be brought to the surface again.” Your think tank just had to be destroyed in order to find what was of real value, which turned out to be, I guess, your email list.
So, seeing the apoplectic outrage of the right wing about losing the filibuster in certain limited situations (an overdue rap on the knuckles considering how the filibuster has been abused in recent years), I thought I’d repeat something from a post I made two years ago during the first bullshit debt limit crisis. That post makes a bunch of points, but today I’ll just focus on one:
The idea that the filibuster was somehow envisioned by the framers of the Constitution? That’s completely wrong, according to the Federalist Papers, which is the best source we have on what the framers were thinking.
Here’s the key passage:
To give the minority a negative [i.e., a veto] upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision) is in its tendency to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser number. . . .This is one of those refinements which in practice has an effect, the reverse of what is expected from it in theory.
The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations of a respectable majority.
In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must in some way or other go forward. If a pertinacious minority can controul the opinion of a majority respecting the best mode of conducting it; the majority in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will over-rule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence tedious delays—continual negotiations and intrigue—contemptible compromises of the public good.
And yet in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: For upon some occasions, things will not admit of accommodation: and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savour of weakness—sometimes border upon anarchy.
Take the time to read that. “Embarrass the administration.” “Destroy the energy of government.” “Contemptible compromises of the public good.” “The measures of government . . . injuriously suspended.” “[Government] kept in a state of inaction.” The framers thought that the Constitution would avoid these problems, *because* they set things up so that the majority would actually have its will done. They not only didn’t institute the filibuster, they thought they had safeguarded against such things.
That’s not how things have played out.
It’s not that I think that the framers’ intent is an infallible guide to modern problems (see: three-fifths compromise). But if you disagree with them, say so. Don’t claim that they agreed with you when they clearly stated the opposite.
EDIT: I should have mentioned: The fact that the framers rejected the need for a supermajority (except in very specific cases) means that they put their safeguards against ill-considered government action elsewhere, like the fact that both houses plus the president have to agree on a law. Adding more “safeguards” on top of these is a recipe for all the problems above.
I freelance, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to afford private health insurance since I was in my 20s.
I thought my premiums–north of $7,100 per year now, and I’m single with no children [EDIT: And no health issues]–were pretty ridiculous, especially because I was on the absolute cheapest option my plan offered (no dental, big deductibles, etc.). Still, this was real insurance, not junk insurance, and there weren’t much in the way of better options out there (I checked).
Then I got a note from my provider that because of Obamacare, my plan would have to change. And that I would get another note with the new offerings soon.
I still haven’t received the new offerings, but I checked with another provider to see what they would sell me; its a safe bet that their deal will be pretty similar to my current provider’s. So let’s check them out.
The new plan only has one offering that’s even as expensive as my current plan (the cheapest, remember), and that covers pretty much everything. The cheapest offering, which is similar to my current one, is $4320 per year.
So, in the post-Obamacare dystopia, I can save almost $3,000 per year for similar insurance, or get much better insurance at the same price.
Let that sink in. Under the Affordable Care Act, my costs are nearly halved.
Of course, that’s the situation in New York; I don’t know how things are going in other states. Still, New York is a big state, and a lot of other people will be seeing that sort of improvement, *without* subsidies.
And yes, I don’t know what my current plan will be offering. But if it’s not at least as good, I can switch. Imagine that–healthcare that you can switch without worrying that if something goes wrong, and you lose coverage for a minute, you’ll never get it again for the rest of your life.
One last thing: There’s a pie chart showing Obamacare’s winners and losers making the rounds (one source here):
On that chart, people in my situation don’t count as winners. We fall into the “no real effect” or “potential loser” categories.
So yes, Obamacare is a freaking Rube Goldberg machine, and single-payer would be simpler, more just, and cheaper. But at least in New York, at least for people like me, *it has nearly halved premiums.*
That ain’t nothing.
So, Economix will be getting a Greek translation.
And apparently the Greek market likes color comix, so the publisher will be putting Economix out in color!
I was skeptical at first—we used black-and-white by choice, for clarity—but I’ve seen some sample pages, and they look good! Check them out:
Read more on the Blog!