Book Review: “No More National Debt”


After much time and a fairly-serious read, here’s my two cents on Bill Still’s No More National Debt.

First, this is not a cocktail book.  By that I mean it’s not something you can go through in an hour or two and intuitively understand.  A huge portion of the book is historical context – in fact, the majority of it is exactly that; a look back.

Historical precedent is extremely important.  Leverage, coming out soon (look to the left, you’ll find out how to order it) has the same sort of historical chronology, because any work of this sort must.  If you can’t catalog those who came before you and why their prescriptions failed, you have no business pontificating on the future.

Expect to spend a good amount of time with this one, and bring your cellphone – the inclusion of “HyperScan” codes is a new idea.  I’m not sure I find their inclusion compelling, and one of the issues related to this sort of multimedia “external” technology is its durability.  After all, a feature of a book is that 100 years from now, if its on your shelf, it’s still able to be read.  How do we reasonably expect these codes to still work even a decade or two from now – say much less a century down the road?  Nonetheless in the present tense in which I’m reading the book I like their inclusion.

Bill sets forth a path that could be followed, but there are some caveats.  I believe he gives them good coverage, but there remains this soft undercurrent in the existing proposals (Kucinich’s being one that is gone over) in the attempt to retain the bloated and inflated asset-price structure that has come from unbridled credit creation.  Unfortunately, there is no free lunch.  The appearance of prosperity where it does not really exist doesn’t help anyone – except, of course, the “moneychangers.”  There’s no simple solution to that problem, but it’s something that we as a society will inevitably have to deal with; the consequences of what we’ve done as a nation in regard to monetary policy are not disjoint from the policy itself, and in my view neither can the response be singularly focused in the monetary field.

All in all I find this a compelling read and well worth the time, but do be prepared to spend the time.  This is a work that I haven’t had time to put through my mental grinder until recently, mostly due to being on deadline myself and knowing after the first chapter or two that it was not going to be something I could knock back in a nice quiet evening with a glass of Cognac – at least not if I intended to actually read, as opposed to simply scanning, the contents.


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