David A. Antler

23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism

By Ha-Joon Chang

Read: 2016-05-19
Rating: 6/10
ISBN: 978-1608193387

I found this book and enjoyed it for a while. Economics fascinates me, and a lot of the ideas presented are contradictory to my own, so I was very curious about the content of this book. A fun read, but unfortunately I don’t find myself thinking about this book a year later.

my notes

We do not live in the best of all possible worlds. (Voltaire reference)

Electoral votes, government jobs and legal decisions are not for sale, at least openly, in modern economies, although they were in most countries in the past.

Child labour regulation now bans the entry of children into the labour market. Licences are required for professions that have significant impacts on human life, such as medical doctors or lawyers (which may sometimes be issued by professional associations rather than by the government).

Many countries allow only companies with more than a certain amount of capital to set up banks.

Wages in rich countries are determined more by immigration control than anything else, including any minimum wage legislation.

the debate about fair trade is essentially about moral values and political decisions, and not economics in the usual sense.

Ghosn was sent to Japan to put Nissan back into shape. Initially, he faced stiff resistance to his un-Japanese way of management, such as sacking workers, but he turned the company completely around in a few years. After that, he has been so totally accepted by the Japanese that he has been made into a manga (comic book) character, the Japanese equivalent of beatification by the Catholic Church.

services are inherently more difficult to export than manufactured goods.

most services require their providers and consumers to be in the same location. No one has yet invented ways to provide a haircut or house-cleaning long-distance

balance of payments problem,

There is a saying in Korea that even a monkey can fall from a tree.

this still means that at least half of university education in countries such as the US, Korea and Finland is ‘wasted’ in the essentially zero-sum game of sorting. The higher education system in these countries has become like a theatre in which some people decided to stand to get a better view, prompting others behind them to stand. Once enough people stand, everyone has to stand, which means that no one is getting a better view, while everyone has become more uncomfortable.

regulations restricting freedom for individual firms may promote the collective interest of the entire business sector, not to speak of the nation as a whole. In other words, there are many regulations that are pro- rather than anti-business.

(mas Papista que el Papa). This refers to the tendency of societies in the intellectual periphery to apply doctrines – religious, economic and social – more rigidly than do their source countries.

(although the prejudice against artisans – engineers in modern terms – and merchants – business managers in modern terms – lingered on for another few decades until economic development made these attractive professions).

For this reason, post-apartheid South Africa has turned into what some South Africans call a ‘cappuccino society’: a mass of brown at the bottom, a thin layer of white froth above it, and a sprinkling of cocoa at the top.

The oldest profession in the world? Representatives of different professions in a Christian country were debating which profession is the oldest. The medical doctor said: ‘What was the first thing that God did with humans? He performed an operation – he made Eve with Adam’s rib. The medical profession is the oldest.’ ‘No, that is not true,’ the architect said. ‘The first thing he did was to build the world out of chaos. That’s what architects do – creating order out of chaos. We are the oldest profession.’ The politician, who was patiently listening, grinned and asked: ‘Who created that chaos?’

Winston Churchill once said about democracy, let me restate my earlier position that capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the others.