Here at Monetary Current, the main focus is on monetary and fiscal policy which usually, if not always, involves the rip-off of someone for the benefit of another. So naturally, as I came across the book, Kleptonomics, it immediately piqued my interest. The title obviously plays off the word, kleptomania — an irresistible impulse to steal.
Although they say never judge a book by its cover, we all do it — it’s natural, and frankly, book covers and titles matter. They either draw you in or not. This book cover certainly worked on me. I bought the book immediately after seeing it. My first impression was that this book was going to be about the phenomenon of theft in real-world economics (e.g., currency debasement, taxes). Well, there is certainly some of that stuff, but the book is really much deeper than that.
The Central Theme
The author, Joshua Done (not sure how to pronounce his last name), establishes the definition of his coined term, kleptonomics, right out of the gate on the first page.
The use of seemingly valid economic terminology to justify theft.
The twisting of economic, political theory, and social terminology to steal the legitimacy of valid concepts to support something different. | Malicious use of semantic overload.
The theme of the book explores the reality of how the bureaucratic and political class deceptively use the distortion of language, or kleptonomics, to gain support for detrimental policies and programs. Joshua Done explores the use of this deception on a variety of modern hot topics, such as student loans, healthcare, minimum wage, stimulus, and much more. He even has a fresh take on the Covid hysteria, demonstrating how policymakers have used misleading language to exploit the fear and emotions of the people much to their detriment. To quote the book, “in many cases they pull it off so smoothly we thank them for stealing from us.”
Critique and Recommendations
I really enjoyed this book. It presents a strong case for liberty and free markets. And as should be obvious to my readers, I have a heavy bias towards this. Fear not, the book isn’t a boring, intense deep-dive into philosophy or economics with fancy scientific words or equations. It is written so simply and eloquently that even a reader not strongly versed in the fundamental principles of liberty can easily grasp the concepts. Done writes in such a clear and convincing way that even if a sleazy politician was reading it, there’s a good chance they’d stop and say, “whoa, why the hell have I been lying to all these people?!”
Done has organized the book well. He starts the first chapter out by giving the reader a strong foundation of what a ‘right’ is and what a ‘right’ is not. And with that foundation, Done proceeds to expose various examples of how the political class succeeds in garnering support by distorting the definition of ‘rights.’
I would especially recommend this book to readers that have a natural inclination towards freedom but still have some discomfort in the idea of significantly reducing the role of government. Done does well to smash those mental restraints by answering the all-too-often asked question of, “well if the government doesn’t step in and do something, then …” He takes relevant topics and demonstrates the benefits of a hands-off, free-market approach by providing real-life examples and sensible thought experiments. This book is also certain to challenge the thinking of those that tend to be attracted to politicians. It is the kind of book that has high potential to turn a reader’s perspective upside down and have them subconsciously picking out instances of kleptonomics in everyday life.
That’s not to say that seasoned liberty-minded readers won’t find this book stimulating. On the contrary, the book is filled with many fresh takes on current events and issues that everyone can learn from to strengthen their understanding and position of liberty. Done has a knack for presenting unique perspectives and arguments without softening the message.
I purchased the paperback version here on Amazon, but it is also available in hardcover and Kindle format.
For those of you like me that prefer to hold a physical book vs. reading a digital form, the physical anatomy of the paperback is well put together with a quality cover and an elegant font that’s easy on the eyes. The book is 187 pages long and reads easily. I read it in two days over a few sittings.
With all that said, here is what I didn’t like about Kleptonomics:
Well, actually I can’t think of anything. Sincerely, it was an enjoyable, informative read.
I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5 MC coins.
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Subsidies are simply a function of power brokers taking from some and giving to others.”
“An entire generation was taught that they were special, that they could do anything, and that the key to a good life was a college degree, but many soon discovered that their key only opened the janitor’s closet at Bob’s Burgers.”
“The same guy working at the coffee shop and complaining about minimum wage is refusing to get a job on the recycle truck because he thinks it is beneath him.”
“When honest work is restricted by law, honest people become criminals.”
“When a politician advocates second amendment laws that disarm you, but they have armed guards, they are sending a clear message. They matter more than you.”
“Many times, when socialists point at a corrupt area of our society and scream, ‘See, capitalism has failed!!’ what they are pointing at is one of these Frankenstein’s monsters that would have never existed without a perverse level of government interference in the private market. You cannot accuse capitalism of the crimes of the statist.”