Talking to My Daughter About the Economy took me AGES to finish…and now even longer to review!
I want to be the kind of person that is informed about financial stuff, but honestly, the word economy just makes my eyes glaze over and my brain go numb. Keeping daily accounts and a family budget – yep, got that. Managing things like home loans, savings accounts, superannuation, paying bills – yep, can do. But as soon as you go down that old rabbit hole of world markets, capitalism and economic stimulus, you lose me. Every single time.
I kept up for over half the book; Varoufakis’ style is easy to read and quite engaging. But once we left the history lesson behind, I stopped being interested.
His daughter, Xenia lives in Australia, so many of the references and details used Australian examples, which helped. The Ancient, and not so ancient, Greeks also came in for a number of references as did a whole bunch of fictional characters like Doctor Faustus, Frankenstein, Scrooge and the crew on board Star Trek.
Tonight, jotting down some of the passages I underlined (pre-Covid) was, however, a very interesting exercise. Many of Varoufakis’ statements have taken on an eerie prescient quality.
- It’s incredible easy to convince ourselves that the order of things – especially when it favours us – is logical, natural and just.
- No company, no family, no country can recover if it remains for ever in the clutches of an unpayable debt.
- Bankers, entrepreneurs – rich people in general – tend to be against government….And yet, when a crash occurs…they…suddenly demand the state’s aid.
- Without public debt, market societies can’t work.
- Rousseau – if a goal can only be achieved collectively, success depends not just on each individual pulling together but primarily on each individual believing that every other individual will do so.
- The labour market is based not just on the exchange value of labour but on people’s optimism or pessimism about the economy as a whole.
- If the economy is the engine of society and debt is the fuel, then labour is the spark, the life-breathing force that animates the engine, while money is the lubricant without which the engine would seize up.
- Every crisis is pregnant with a recovery. And vice versa.
- Judging from the three great monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islma – we humans think very highly of ourselves. We like to think that we’ve been fashioned in the image and likeness of God, of that which is perfect and unique.
- In ancient Greece, a person who refused to think in terms of the common good was called an idiotis – a privateer, a person who minded his own business.
- The government serves the interests of those who run it – politicians and bureaucrats.
- To what do we owe the evolution of our character and our desires? Conflict is the short answer…our confrontation with the world and its refusal to grant us all our wishes at once, as well as the conflict within us made possible by our capacity to think for ourselves…authentic happiness is impossible…without dissatisfaction as well as satisfaction.
- The economy is too important to leave to the economists.
- My Bodley Head edition published 2017.
- Originally published in 2013.
- Original title Μιλώντας στην κόρη μου για την οικονομία.