This book is well written and referenced and from the extensive bibliography you would believe the author was well read but it soon becomes evident that he has focused on self-reinforcing right-wing economists with little grasp of the sociological implication of his proposals. The first few chapters feel like a rant in which the increasing size of the state is blamed for the decline of Glasgow. The omission of any reference to the revolution in Russia and growth in communism worldwide leaves the reader screaming at the author for more balance. There is no mention on how the excesses of unrestrained capitalism would be restrained in a “Free Market”. Dominic does speak out against the imbalance of wealth but does not identify this as an imbalance of power and seems to believe that each individual is capable of negotiating everything for themselves. He gives the example of the simplicity of buying bread but fails to see how complex this actually is: does the seller own the bread, what is it made of, how fresh is it, how long will it keep, who else is selling similar bread, can it be returned, and is the money genuine and worth something, are a few questions that come to my mind. A better illustration is that no one but a corporation has time to read and understand all the legal contracts they accept when joining a website or installing software. Dominic would do well to add [...] to his reading.
Dominic does see a need for the State to protect property rights and then suggests all taxes could be replaced by a Land Value Tax. Annoyingly he doesn’t acknowledge that we already have Unified Business Rates and Community Charges in the UK and therefore doesn’t consider how much is already raised by this means. He makes the error of believing that Land has some intrinsic value when he should recognise that whilst supply is fixed, it is what someone does to the land that makes it valuable. If you tax land you will reduce its value and people will do things elsewhere. He repeats this error in suggesting metal, specifically gold, has an intrinsic value. He claims gold has very few uses overlooking jewellery and electronic components. This rather ruins an otherwise excellent discussion on the nature of money. Using metal as money, or money tied to metal prices is therefore meaningless. Fundamentally Money is a token of exchange of labour; if you do this for me, I, or someone else you give this token to, will do something for you, because I will do something for them when I’m given it back. Printing money is a promise to do more and more things in the future and we have now got well beyond what we can do in our own lifetimes. The question is how many future generations can we commit for our benefit today?
I was fascinated by the chapter on Education and the merits of home schooling. Perhaps it is the fact that Dominic, who professes to be home schooled in Economics, is lacking the breadth of understanding or a context to his proposals, that leads us to favour a more collective education.
Perhaps most disturbing is that whilst Dominic talks freely of killing “zombie” companies without much consideration of why companies fail and the pain of the death of a company, he must also believe we should kill or let die people who can no longer provide for themselves and have failed to make adequate provision for their perhaps unforeseen circumstances. He fails to see that although Banks were saved by the State, the shareholders where wiped out and senior managers punished. Only the customers where protected by a continuing service. The jungle may be in harmony but it is a vicious place where most die young. Its laws have no place in a civilised society. With a decline in religious conviction and charities already struggling we cannot hope they will step up to protect the weak as the State is rolled back. There are no natural charities in the jungle and Dominic’s suggestion that everyone will be rich is fanciful. Wealth is relative and wages in a “free market” will be bid down to the minimum the weakest need to subsist… and then some!