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10 thoughts on “The Body Economic

  1. says:

    A clear indictment of conservative economic theology that has deadly conseuences for the most vulnerable in society

  2. says:

    Solid book read in a few hours The basic principle of the book is to show how government spending on certain types of social safety net programs can keep people healthy AND benefit the economy This runs counter to some popular and political thinking on the topic so the authors collect and report data and evidence to make their case I appreciated how they wrote in a view that would reach a popular audience but relied on their findings culled from some peer reviewed pubs This makes some of the complicated sections easier to readAnd understand but there are still a decent amount of statsUltimately I think this book would give anyone a basic understanding of the macro level links between public policy health and the economy I appreciated all of the references at the end but would have also enjoyed the actual data tables as an appendix

  3. says:

    Very concise research by the two Authors confirms what most empathetic people would think of Government Austerity programs They hurt the most vulnerable and have a major impact on their physical and mental health

  4. says:

    Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Funding provided by the government for public programs reduces unemployment homelessness healthcare costs and actually improves the economy at faster rates than radical cuts to government services? Which in turn promotes growth by increasing citizens marginal propensity to consume which in turn helps them become active members in the economy? You don’t say? A truly harrowing book on the devastating impact austerity has on the citizens The people least responsibility for reckless practices by the banking elite get hurt the most The book is a data oriented approach showcasing the different policy routes countries went during financial meltdowns How it affects healthcare housing employment anxiety suicide rates and many factors My one critiue is that the author did not criticize Obama care because it was better than the current system but it’s obvious Obama care was a policy failure It gave Republicans the ammo needed in the mid terms of 2010 and 2014 and lead to a massacre in 2016 Don’t get me wrong Obama care was an improvement but a moderate improvement at the very least by leaving the for profit system in place it still lead to large increases in costs nevertheless it was still and still is better than any republican plan but that doesn’t make it goodIncrementalism leads to republican surges hopefully in 2020 we get a candidate that actually stands up to the for profit corrupt practices of the insurance industry who have price gouged the American people

  5. says:

    How Neoliberalism killsImagine Tom a man who works from 9 to 5 in an office for a private company dealing with highly explosive euipment He's done a really good job today managing to deliver over 240 dangerous chemicals to hospitals and clinics all over the country However he arrives back home to find out through the news that a roaring chaos is emerging within the confines of the financial market What the heck The prices of insurances are falling the housing market is plummeting and the entire economy is soaring The news bulletin stops to broadcast a live speech by the president “It is hard times dear Americans Wall Street is undergoing profound changes and the financial crisis is imminent however we do hope to have recovered soon by the end of this week' or something along those lines It is 2007 and Tom is waiting thinking about what this could mean for him He's worried He has two children and a partner with whom he shares their first house paid for by the mortgage they obtained from the bankfollow my review and summary at

  6. says:

    Always useful to have contributions from various fields; in this case public health researchers describing the social conseuences of austerity cutting public services in order to recover from financial crises; related read humanitarian physician Paul Farmer's Pathologies of Power Placing austerity in the context of Financial policy and crises caused by predatory lending of Financial Capitalism crippling Labor and Industry reveals the Financial sector actively seeking austerity for their own gains Debt is their business The feudalism of usury and landmonopoly rent is the unearned income that even Classical economists wanted to free the market from Michael Hudson Killing the Host J is for Junk Economics details how Financial Capitalism derailed reforms and has both Labor and Industry in debt peonage David Graeber Debt the First 5000 Years The Democracy Project challenges the one sided morality of debt and revives social imagination on what an economy is actually for and how we can organize our decision making

  7. says:

    I hoped this would be a tremendous book And it is What we can learn from the Global Financial Crisis is that how 'business' has been conducted in the past has failed The continual emphasis of the economic over the social or 'growth' over justice has failed It is time to think differently It is time to be differentDavid Stuckler and Sanjay Basu show that one of the primary costs of governmental austerity is preventative health policies By hyper fetishizing the present budget the future is mortgaged The authors show that the men and women who lost their houses and jobs also lost their health The cost of that loss is paid in suicides strokes heart attacks and disability This book argues for a full economic and social costing of austerity When this real budget is configured Iceland becomes a model for a new way of thinking and living

  8. says:

    Living in Malaysia and seeing the extent of the effects of the reform on social services shed some light to governance in Malaysia Although some of the actions conducted by the Malaysian government at that time was highly provocative it's decision of a solid no to IMF was indeed a wise decision The book solidifies what successful government do to help spur the economy It provides the facts and evidence to us However it is important that books like this be read as in modern democracy where the people choose the leaders Anyway it was crafted very nice I had the page turning until the end of each experiment And the data was properly broken down and analysed that I have very little ualm in taking it All in all a must read

  9. says:

    The great strength and slight limitation of this book are both captured in a few sentences in the Conclusion With stakes so high we cannot entrust our decisions to ideologies and beliefs As the mathematician W Deming said “In God we trust; all others must bring data” Often politicians on both the left and the right peddle ideas based on preconceived social theories and economic ideologies not facts figures and hard evidenceThe authors’ use of facts figures and hard evidence in “The Body Economic” allows them to convincingly demolish conventional neoliberal wisdom and establish a compelling case for their policy alternatives There were no slips no point where I felt their arguments were weak or unsupported by data Almost a third of the book is taken up with references I checked some of them out They were consistently relevant and high uality sources The structure of their argument examining population health through a series of economic crises since the Great Depression and comparing health outcomes for austerity versus reflationary policy responses is intellectually elegant At the same time the book is beautifully written It reminded me of the work of another brilliant author who is referenced at the back – Naomi Klein The freuent use of an immediately relatable vignette which expresses and illustrates the dynamics of a complex system is a common element I believe that the life experience of David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu – which they briefly describe in the Preface – were critical to the book’s exceptional power “Both of us have experienced financial vulnerability” they write “and the health conseuences that attend it” Leading epidemiologists with access to the great resources at Oxford and Stanford Universities who can say the same are few and far between But facts do not speak for themselves They reuire interpretation And data is only available when and in the formats that it’s collected So despite the strong assertion in the book’s Conclusion there can be no escape from “ideologies and beliefs” “Facts figures and hard evidence” are not some reliable alternative to “theories” Theories are essential in generating uestions for scientific investigation They shape the choices about which data to collect and analyse You can’t have the one and not the other which appears to what the authors proclaim in the uote above And the problem isn’t “preconceived social theories and economic ideologies” per se It’s when politicians keep clinging to beliefs even after they’re disconfirmed by evidence The authors’ belief that they are eschewing “theories” actually means they’re captive to their own unexamined or underexamined theoretical assumptions The clearest evidence of this is in the one place where they do cite a theoretical source “The Nobel Prize winning economist Kenneth Arrow had found in a seminal 1963 paper that markets often fail to deliver affordable high uality healthcare” This paper may be credible but it is definitely a “preconceived social theory” of the kind they explicitly disavow Critically examining the book from this perspective the recurrent passing mentions of John Maynard Keynes take on a greater significance “Healthcare is different from other market good like cans of tuna” the authors assert The belief that a market economy is essentially benign to health and that the problem lies mainly with policy settings within this framework runs through the book – despite an absence of supporting data and even given some evidence to the contrary It’s true that the book does not cite evidence of harmful health effects from production and distribution of cans of tuna within a market system but it does appear to show that a market economy in housing banking and finance and employment which doesn’t leave much excluded is harmful to health Scandinavian examples of “Active Labour Market Policies” in the book which have successfully mitigated some of this harm could have been conceptualised eually well as a move towards “Decentralised Economic Planning” But the authors’ aversion to “theories” leaves them unable to do this or to join the dots in a way which might allow them to challenge their own “economic ideologies” In this respect despite a certain fuzziness Naomi Klein’s work is clearly stronger Notwithstanding the proprtion of this review taken up with this point it is a small gripe really As previously stated “The Body Economic” is a beautifully written book which reflects and will continue to inspire democratic efforts to demolish today’s most harmful prevailing economic ideologies Highly highly recommended

  10. says:

    15 starsThere were a few parts early that I found interesting especially regarding the Soviet cities however that was not enough to help this book The bias was too strong that it ruined credibility in my view It read like a propaganda booklet or a sales pitch It also ignored secondary and long term effects of policies While there is valid criticism of how the IMF got involved in Europe and how banks that made risky loans were rewarded for helping create the recession he draws wrong conclusion that stimulus and increased public spending is always the answer Countries have collapsed into hyperinflation by trying his response creating a far worse crisis through printing money to support these programs and economic stimulus While parts seemed like drawing too large of a conclusion based on a small sample size other parts seemed just plain dishonest Just as trying to look at Wichita or Tulsa both cities with a larger population than Iceland to see how an economic strategy could work that would not be enough to declare one system as the only valid option Comparisons between Iceland and Greece are too small in nature and their systems were too separate to try and make the comparison that he did I have always preferred comparisons between East and West Germany and North and South Korea as those are homogeneous populations in similar circumstances that have taken two very different paths and led to very different results The economic destruction in Germany after WWII was far greater than Greece or Iceland in the mid 2000's His discussion on how England has such a superior healthcare system made me think I was reading a satire At the time he was praising the system there in the 50's 70's it was suffering a massive brain drain where many doctors were leaving the country to practice elsewhere I was just waiting for the part where he would say how British dentistry was also a model to be emulated His criticism of the response to the collapse of the USSR neglected that the key problem was that it was so heavily government run for 70 years it had created a time bomb Surely the response could have been improved but to skip over the primary cause for the problem just lacks too much Russia around 1990 had an economy on par with the US in 1890 That was a major reason why transitioning had such a devastating impact The valid criticisms he made were overshadowed by neglecting long term effects as well as other flaws Those who support Keynesian economics and big government will enjoy this book Most other people will find it frustrating at best

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The Body Economic Politicians have talked endlessly about the seismic economic and social impacts of the recent financial crisis but many continue to ignore its disastrous effects on human health—and have even exacerbated them by adopting harsh austerity measures and cutting key social programs at a time when constituents need them most The result as pioneering public health experts David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu reveal in this provocative book is that many countries have turned their recessions into veritable epidemics ruining or extinguishing thousands of lives in a misguided attempt to balance budgets and shore up financial markets Yet sound alternative policies could instead help improve economies and protect public health at the same timeIn The Body Economic Stuckler and Basu mine data from around the globe and throughout history to show how government policy becomes a matter of life and death during financial crises In a series of historical case studies stretching from 1930s America to Russia and Indonesia in the 1990s to present day Greece Britain Spain and the US Stuckler and Basu reveal that governmental mismanagement of financial strife has resulted in a grim array of human tragedies from suicides to HIV infections Yet people can and do stay healthy and even get healthier during downturns During the Great Depression US deaths actually plummeted and today Iceland Norway and Japan are happier and healthier than ever proof that public wellbeing need not be sacrificed for fiscal healthFull of shocking and counterintuitive revelations and bold policy recommendations The Body Economic offers an alternative to austerity—one that will prevent widespread suffering both now and in the future

  • Hardcover
  • 240 pages
  • The Body Economic
  • David Stuckler
  • English
  • 21 April 2014
  • 9780465063987

About the Author: David Stuckler

David Stuckler PhD MPH HonMFPH FRSA is a Professor of Political Economy and Sociology at University of Oxford and research fellow of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine He has written over 170 peer reviewed scientific articles on global health in The Lancet British Medical Journal and Nature in addition to other major journals His book about the global chronic disease epidemi