You are previewing Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture Is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul.
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Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture Is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul

Book Description

Since the financial meltdown of 2008, economists, journalists, and politicians have uniformly insisted that to restore the American Dream and renew economic growth, we need to save more and spend less.

In his provocative new book, historian James Livingston—author of the classic Origins of the Federal Reserve System—breaks from the consensus to argue that underconsumption caused the current crisis and will prolong it. By viewing the Great Recession through the prism of the Great Depression, Livingston proves that private investment is not the engine of growth we assume it to be. Tax cuts for business are therefore a recipe for disaster. If our goal is to reproduce the economic growth of the postwar era, we need a redistribution of income that reduces corporate profits, raises wages, and promotes consumer spending.

Table of Contents

  1. ALSO BY JAMES LIVINGSTON
  2. Title Page
  3. Dedication
  4. Introduction
  5. PART ONE: OUR VERY OWN PERESTROIKA
    1. CHAPTER ONE - Understanding Backward
    2. CHAPTER TWO - How to Explain a Crisis
      1. THEORIES OF CRISIS AND THE ORIGINS OF THE FED
      2. EXPLAINING THE RECENT CRISIS: MISTAKES, MONOPOLY, MONEY, MORALITY
      3. THE MISSING M-WORD
    3. CHAPTER THREE - Their Great Depression and Ours
      1. THE COMMON SENSE OF OUR TIME: HOW AND WHY WE BELIEVE THE MYTH OF INVESTMENT
      2. THE HISTORICAL EVIDENCE: CRISIS AND GROWTH SINCE 1919
    4. CHAPTER FOUR - Living Forward
      1. “GREAT CHANGES IN THE CODE OF MORALS”?
      2. THE POSSIBILITIES OF ECONOMIC GROWTH
  6. PART TWO: THE MORALITY OF SPENDING
    1. CHAPTER FIVE - The Politics of “More”
      1. WORKERS AS CONSUMERS: WHAT GOMPERS MEANT BY “MORE”
      2. THE INTELLECTUAL BLUEPRINT OF A “PLEASURE ECONOMY”
      3. THE “SOCIALIZATION” OF POLITICS
      4. DUSK OF DAWN: THE BLACK AESTHETIC FROM DU BOIS TO SNCC
    2. CHAPTER SIX - Exporting the Black Aesthetic
      1. THE BLACK AESTHETIC AS A CONSUMER GOOD
      2. THE VELVET REVOLUTION AND THE “CONSUMER SOCIETY”
    3. CHAPTER SEVEN - The Wand of Increase
      1. WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH ADVERTISING?
      2. SELLING WITH SEX: THE CASE FOR ADVERTISING
      3. DESIRING MACHINES
    4. CHAPTER EIGHT - News from Nowhere
      1. THE HERALD OF NEW VALUES
      2. THE DANGERS OF ABUNDANCE
      3. EROS AND CIVILIZATION
      4. NEWS FROM NOWHERE
      5. DON DRAPER’S UTOPIA
    5. CHAPTER NINE - It Beats Working
      1. THE PATHOS OF PRODUCTIVITY
      2. MATTHEW CRAWFORD PUTS US BACK TO WORK
      3. ANOTHER COUNTRY
      4. THE CARE OF THE PLANET
      5. THE FOOD REVOLUTION
      6. “A SOMEWHAT DISGUSTING MORBIDITY”: WHEN FAT IS THE POLITICAL ISSUE
    6. CODA - Bataille Made Me Do It
  7. Appendix: - Capital in the American Economy: Kuznets Revisited
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. Bibliography
  10. Index
  11. Copyright Page