By Robert Kuttner
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95, 367 pages
In Debtors’ Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility, Robert Kuttner argues that focus of national debates on debt center on the wrong type of debt – on public rather than government. Wars and gratuitous tax cuts for the wealthy have caused more deficit than would an excess of social generosity. The flow of money into the market has become stilted as people grapple with student loans, past debts and a fear of excessive spending.
“Repayment of debt is assumed to be a moral obligation, though there are plainly circumstances when debt relief is an economic imperative.”
This book sheds very little new light on the subject, offering information that people could have gleaned just by living in the United Sates and reading the bylines of major news articles during the past five years. Worse, there are substantial errors, such as the statement that Wells Fargo acquired Washington Mutual. (Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia and Washington Mutual went to Chase.) Without its facts properly checked, Debtors’ Prison loses its integrity and everything written in it is subject to doubt, which is a shame in a conversation as important as improving the economy.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins