I have not read this particular book, and cannot comment on it. My reason for logging it here is because Tasini has written a pamphlet on the deficit/Social Security issue which he has just put up on scribd and which is getting some positive attention today from market observers (e.g., from Barry Ritholtz: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/11/tasini-on-the-deficit-crisis/):
(This piece, too, is more rant than reason - and I don't agree with all of it, by any stretch...)
The best on-going coverage of this issue is in Dean Baker's blog: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/beat-the-press/
The 'Social Security crisis' is essentially a sham (on this, Tasini is correct). The fiscal crisis bearing down upon us is due primarily to Medicare and Medicaid -- that is, to spiraling health care costs - as Social Security itself is fully funded for the next 25 years and is only slightly in deficit after that. The US is running a massive fiscal deficit, of course, but most of that -- for example, much of the current FY $1.6 trillion deficit -- is the result of the US Treasury funneling trillions of dollars to the banks and to other financial intermediaries to cover loses incurred from speculating with cheap money during the previous boom (2003-2007) -- that is, to ensuring that they don't have to actually *take* any loses. In other words, their loses have been shifted onto the balance sheet of the taxpayer, who will now have to cover them by shredding the social safety net.
This, of course, is the old IMF formula, and is what is being asked of Ireland, Greece, Spain -- and so forth.
This is the "hard landing" scenario.
And hence the title of Tasani's pamphlet.
The alternative is to inflate away our debts by stimulating nominal GDP growth -- which is what Bernanke and the Fed are trying to do. This will put people to work, lowering unemployment, while inflating prices of many essentials (including food and energy and the propping up of asset prices: stocks and housing, if not bonds) -- which means lowering US living standards across the board, but in an orderly fashion (at least). This is the "soft landing" scenario -- provided the inflation is contained.
There is no third choice.
Congress is dedicated, it seems, largely to pursing assignations with minors via internet boards, or with otherwise greasing their palms; while the military prepares for American Triumphalism version 3.0, with the Coming of Beck, and Bristol, and Palinism...
And I'm looking for a slowboat (-- or make that a fast one --) to China.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek2xzZrnhPQ