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Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism
Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism
Submitted by IllegalArgument
24th August 2013
Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism

Ha-Joon Chang has the gift of making difficult subjects easy to laypeople to understand.

He makes a rational spirited attack on what he feels is the hypocrisy of the developed countries, the ridged ideology of the free market economists which drive agencies like the IMF.

Most chapters are filled with history lessons on how developed countries in the early days engaged in tariffs, capital controls, intellectual property theft and hard limits on foreign ownership. At least until their industries had matured to level of competing in the global market. Then changed the tune, started lecturing all the developing countries through the IMF and other agencies not to do any of those things. Usually, the countries that followed the IMF advice had more negative results than positive. The author states the trade offs between political economy and the free market, in a detailed section on the rise of South Korea, his home.

Two chapters in the book were particularly eye opening, My six-year old should get a job and Lazy Japanese and Thieving Germans. The first chapter points out the problems with not protecting an industry while it gains technical expertise and capacity. Give the child time to go to school and get bigger. The second chapter is about how some developed countries were considered basket cases, their people are not capable of achieving developed status, a claim I have heard used against developing countries that have listened to the IMF, then fallen on hard times.

The book is good ammo for having a rational discussion about the trade offs and short comings of unfettered free market ideology.
Ha-Joon Chang

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