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American Gridlock: Why the Right and Left Are Both Wrong - Commonsense 101 Solutions to the Economic Crises



"With rigorous logic, American Gridlock identifies five major problems confronting the nation. These range from salvaging today's 'Lost Decade,' to the unequal distribution of wealth, to preventing bankruptcy from 'entitlements spending,' and to preventing future financial market crises. Woody Brock does not simply offer his opinions about these crises. Rather, he deduces win-win solutions to each of these from first principles. It is high time for such a book, especially during a presidential election year."
Dr. Nouriel Roubini, Chairman and cofounder, Roubini Global Economics

"Woody Brock is a brilliant economic thinker, and we should heed his call for an infrastructure Marshall Plan to lift our national economy. This book should be required reading for everyone who cares about America's future, particularly our elected officials."
Ambassador Felix G. Rohatyn, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC

"Woody Brock's new book American Gridlock is going to force everybody to think through their views on the critical issues of public policy facing America today. It is not just a question of a failure of leadership. It is also a question, as he puts it, of a failure of thought and analysis. He focuses on this in order to overcome what he terms 'the Dialogue of the Deaf': the shouting match between the Left and the Right and its inevitable manifestation as gridlock. Agree or not, this is the kind of book to which everybody should pay attention."
Mortimer Zuckerman, Editor in Chief, U.S. News & World Report

"Woody Brock is one of America's best kept secrets. My firm has had the good fortune of benefiting from his in-depth analysis of future political and economic trends for years. American Gridlock allows the reader to do the same."
Stan Druckenmiller, Chairman and CEO, Duquesne Family Office

"Woody Brock is one of the most unreasonable men I know: because I agree with George Bernard Shaw that the reasonable man adapts himself to the world, whilst the unreasonable man persists in adapting the world to himself, and therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
Sir David Tang, founder, Shanghai Tang, and author of An Apple a Week

H. Woody Brock is President and founder of Strategic Economic Decisions (SED), Inc., a firm that provides economic and financial market analysis to financial institutions, corporations, and investors. He has authored numerous Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, and a variety of professional journals, and speaks regularly at investment conferences and forums. He is known worldwide as a speaker and writer adept at taking complex ideas and theories and expressing them logically and clearly. Brock was elected an Andrew Mellon Foundation Bicentennial Fellow of the Aspen Institute. He earned his BA, MBA, and MS (in mathematics) from Harvard University, and his MA and PhD from Princeton University.
Preface xiii

Chapter 1 Dialogue of the Deaf 1

What to Do About It

What Went Wrong: Origins of the Dialogue of the Deaf

The Role of Deductive versus Inductive Logic in Policy Analysis

The Illogic of Policy Analysis Today

What Must Be Done to Raise the Level of Debate

Chapter 2 Must There Be a Lost Decade? 23

A Socratic Dialogue with the President Explains Why Not

Reasons for Lackluster Growth During the Remainder of this Decade

"Good" versus "Bad" Deficits, and the Main Policy Proposal

The Identifi cation and Ranking of Public Investment Projects by Their Return

When Huge Defi cits Are Justifi ed: A Unifi cation of the Arrow-Kurz and Keynesian Theories

Chapter 3 Resolving the Entitlements Spending Crisis 75

How to Drive Health-Care Spending Down while Increasing Access

A Supply-Side Solution to the Health-Care Crisis

Three Basic Assumptions for an Optimal Health-Care System

Expert Systems and Automation

Redressing the Social Security Deficit

Chapter 4 Preventing Perfect Financial Storms 119

When Everyone Was Too Clever by Half

The Four Origins of Today's Financial Crisis

The Role of Bad Economic Theory

Emergence of a Pathological Incentive Structure

Requisite Policy Reforms

Chapter 5 Bargaining Theory 101 157

How Not to Deal with China

The Origins of Economics Imperialism

The Possibility of the Hegemony of Political Science: The Nash-Harsanyi Pluralistic Bargaining Model

How Not to Negotiate with Thugocracies—The Case Study of China

The Remarkable Power of the Bargaining Model in Political Science and Beyond

Chapter 6 Beyond Democratic Capitalism 199

An Idealized Political Economy, with Distributive Justice

True Textbook Capitalism, and the Correct Role of Government

Beyond Effi ciency: The Eight Ideals of an Optimal Social System

Distributional Equity

A Comprehensive Theory of Distributive Justice

Conclusion 231

Appendix A Supply/Demand Summary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 235

Appendix B Dynamics of Total Health-Care Expenditure 241

Notes 249

Index 267