Is Capitalism the Culprit?

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Why the heck is this happening to us? What happened to mortgages, to banks, to large retailers, to retirement savings, to stock prices, to the availability of credit? How could so many errors have coincided?

To the media pundits and government officials, this is a market failing that requires the government to take trillions of dollars from you and run the money presses full time. Otherwise we are doomed.

But there is another way to look at the great market collapse of 2008: the whole thing, including the bubble that preceded it, is the fault of the government and the Fed. All attempts to "fix" the problem are like forcing the patient to swallow more of the poison from which he currently suffers.

Mises.org has been making this argument, and warned of the coming crash years ago. But where can you find the argument explained for the average person in a convenient package, without technical jargon and with logic and facts?

Enter Tom Woods with his blockbuster book Meltdown. It’s all here, all the information you need to understand what is happening and what to do about it. It is billed as a free-market response to the crisis but it is more precisely an Austrian School response.

He covers the problem of housing subsidies, of low interest loans, of the absurdities of the boom times, and how it was inevitable that they would come to an end. He puts the fault right where it belongs: with the government and the central bank.

He further blasts the political establishment for taking exactly the wrong path in response. Interest rates should be raised, not lowered. Government spending should be cut, not increased. Taxes should be reduced. Regulations should be cut, not expanded. On the current path, the bozos in Washington are going to wreck whatever hope for recovery there is.

The great thing about this volume is that it is rooted in serious ideas. We aren’t talking about some quicky investment book by a media talking head. Professor Woods is steeped in the ideas of Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard, and never misses a chance to explain the relationship between theory and reality. It contains what might be the clearest explanation of Austrian business cycle theory ever written.

This book is a fantastic weapon in the intellectual battle that is taking place right now. It needs to become a bestseller, and it could. You can do your part by distributing it as widely as possible. History really does hang in the balance.

From the Inside Flap: Is Capitalism the Culprit?

The media tells us that "deregulation" and "unfettered free markets" have wrecked our economy and will continue to make things worse without a heavy dose of federal regulation. But the real blame lies elsewhere. In Meltdown, bestselling author Thomas E. Woods Jr. unearths the real causes behind the collapse of housing values and the stock market – and it turns out the culprits reside more in Washington than on Wall Street.

And the trillions of dollars in federal bailouts? Our politicians’ ham-handed attempts to fix the problems they themselves created will only make things much worse. Woods, a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and winner of the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Award, busts the media myths and government spin. He explains how government intervention in the economy – from the Democratic hobbyhorse called Fannie Mae to affirmative action programs like the Community Redevelopment Act – actually caused the housing bubble.

Most important, Woods, author of the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, traces this most recent boom-and-bust – and all such booms and busts of the past century – back to one of the most revered government institutions of all: the Federal Reserve System, which allows busy-body bureaucrats and ambitious politicians to pull the strings of our financial sector and manipulate the value of the very money we use.

Meltdown also provides a timely history lesson to counter the current clamor for a new New Deal. The Great Depression, Woods demonstrates, was only as deep and as long as it was because of the government interventions by Herbert Hoover (no free-market capitalist, despite what your high school history teacher may have taught you) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (no savior of the American economy, in spite of what the mainstream media says). If you want to understand what caused the financial meltdown – and why none of the big-government solutions being tried today will work – Meltdown explains it all.

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. [view his website; send him mail] is senior fellow in American history at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is co-editor (with Murray Polner) of We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now and co-author, most recently, of Who Killed the Constitution? The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush. His other books include Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass, 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (get a free chapter here), The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (first-place winner in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards), and the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. His latest book is Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse.

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