The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World Was Created

The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World Was Created

by William J. Bernstein
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The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World Was Created 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish those who wrote reviews would at least learn how to spell. Otherwise, rambling on while trying to impress us is not doing so! Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We read for many reasons, all of which pertain to enjoyment. Beyond the good laugh, or a thoughtful provocation wrapped in satire, we also expect to become a bit more enjoyably educated for having read. Then there's the notion of polemic: we also frequently read in order to glean arguments that support pre-conceived ideas. This is called 'ideology', and aptly describes both Bernstein's project and his readership's intent. In the first paragraph or so, one finds a sneering remark towards Ivy League and New York Times. These, to return barb for barb, are all-too-familiar tropes of the quasi-fascist amerikan right. bbllharrisccvc Having pronounced upon these, the author declares his mission to create a bizness community version of history--far from both the ivy tower and the madding crowd of pointy-headed coastal intellectualism. Well, not. Sensibility demands that we accept diverse opinion from other sensible individuals. Moreover, we should read contrary to our beliefs in order to challenge them, which is why I jumped into this particular project. But the author doesn't deliver. Nothing could be more off-putting than to label Aristotelian science 'totalitarain'. And why would he slaver over Cambridge, the birthplace of Keynesian socialism that stated, in so many words, that economic success is dictated by government policy? In any case, his main guy, the Cambridge-educated Angus Maddison, is both mis-used and cited in highly-debated circumstance. Working for the OECD, Maddison remarkably developed a set of indicators thast might predict GDP/PC growth amomg developed nations. These, in extenso, might arguably be employed to facilitate growth in developing nations, the most salient examople being China. Now assuming access to labor, resources, and money, no one denies that the ancilliary factors of applied intellect and infrastructure are important, too. How all of these work themselves out to offer the optimal return is what 'the Maddison group' is all about. That the devil is in the details of the formula, is far, far above the head of our neurologist turned ideologue. Or to return the favor in his own field: "In neurology we study axions, dendrites, and electrochemical impulses. How this electro-chemical stuff works is really complicated. So maybe you should just go see a chiropractor." In passing, I might also mention that Nobel Laureates such as Krugman write PhD thesis that emphasize the role of trade in establishing incremental GDP growth. But there I go again--citing both NY Times and Columbia U in the same breath! Maddison also went on to figuratively apply his method to long-scale 'One-AD' tendencies of growth. This, regrettably is where both his peer-reviewed credibility stops and the narration of Bernstein begins. So in reality, Bernstein is exploiting the name of Maddison, much as to say that the universe is invinite because Einstein said so. A quantitative account of personal wealth is impossible without a consistent unit of measure; anthropology informs us that we write ethnographic accounts becausse there is no said common measure. In any case, no one denies that around 1820, there was an ecomonic explosion of sorts, and how it precisely happened is an interesting story. Yet we dervive absolutely no insight by stating that pre-1820 was nothing but an impovershed, two thousand year-old mess. To his credit, Maddison looked long and hard for the 'seeds' that spawned this remarkable spurt. To his shame, Bernstein cites nothing but a version the businessman's credo. In this bowlderized account, there was no transition from wool to cotton based upon the exploitation of India, thereby secured by opium trade from China. There was no virtual enslavement of the Scots population after 1710, thereby offering both the mills and coal mines a cheep source of labor. America did not exist: no slaves to produce the cotton, nor grow the rice that enabled an inexpensive food source. Of course, the native injuns were all to happy to fairly contract away their mineral resources such as high-grade iron ore, copper, tin, nickel,gold and silver... No, all we have is the fallacious creation of prop-tee laws (hardly an English invention!) fused with (state constructed) transport, combined with engineering (applied science), and credit (backed up by Spanish-American gold). And voila! 'Not bad for a neurologist turned invester. And if I were to cite that this book lacks peer-review interest, the response, doubtless, would be. "indeed". Rather, his motivation was to create a vision of history adequate for bar and cocktail party-- high-sounding chit-chat-- of the like-minded. Corporate-believers of the world unite! You have only your soul to lose, and money to gain! BH
Anonymous More than 1 year ago