Economix – Michael Goodwin and Dan E. Burr

As a child, every time someone spoke about the economy I died a little inside. Partially because I noticed in those conversations what people seem to hate about postmodern philosophy – namely that it claims to explain everything, and no one seems to have the same handle and explanation of it. It seems all important, so long as you care about money. At some point you get older and begrudgingly accept that yea, this shit is important. If only someone can explain it to me in a way I can understand.

Well, that is what Michael Goodwin and Dan E Burr have endeavored to do. Economix is economics explained in comic book form, with a particular focus on the advent of capitalism and its effect on world history. That is by no means a complete description of what economics is.

When I write these reviews, I tend to look at things differently if the book is non-fiction vs fiction. Fiction is often looked at as an aesthetic object, while non-fiction is looked at more critically. With this, there can be a very good marriage between the two, as the aesthetic layout leads to the quality of the content. I’ve read other book in this style, and I do have to admit that this was the worst one. Action Philosophers does a much better job breaking down truly difficult concepts into better bite sized pieces. Despite the fact that both deal with exceedingly difficult topics at times (and here i am expecting defenders to pop up and say that economics is more difficult than philosophy, to which I reply – horse shit), Action Philosophers never manages to make you feel overwhelmed by the page. I would imagine (though I can’t be sure) that this is Dan Burr’s fault. It’s all about page layout. Economix is at time packed with text walls, which would seem to defeat the point of writing this as a comic book. Sure, the text walls are comparatively small when one considers literally any other book on economics. But they are also printed in a font that was made for comic books, and not for massive text walls – there is a reason why we have professional type-setters, and there is a reason we don’t write in comic sans. Someone working on this book made a massive aesthetic failure, and it effected the whole reading of this book.

I wish I could say that this was the books only flaw. It is a bit puzzling that it seemed to over avoid the Obama presidency’s contribution to the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, which was the very beginning of the Obama presidency. The book is accused of a left-wing bias, but this was one of that presidency’s most attacked points by the left wing. It felt like a massive omission.

But what really makes the book jarring is the focus away from economics in the second half. Yea, I get that governance and economics are linked, and the uncoupling is pretty much impossible, but the book ceases to be what it set out to be, and what I was hoping to read at that point. Give this book to two Vietnamese students (or any other non-western nationality), one a politics/history student, the other an economics student, and see which one calls this book more useful. That felt like a massive failure.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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