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“…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.”

—Arthur Young; 1771

Our popular economic wisdom says that capitalism equals freedom and free societies, right? Well, if you ever suspected that the logic is full of shit, then I’d recommend checking a book called The Invention of Capitalism, written by an economic historian named Michael Perelmen, who’s been exiled to Chico State, a redneck college in rural California, for his lack of freemarket friendliness. And Perelman has been putting his time in exile to damn good use, digging deep into the works and correspondence of Adam Smith and his contemporaries to write a history of the creation of capitalism that goes beyond superficial The Wealth of Nations fairy tale and straight to the source, allowing you to read the early capitalists, economists, philosophers, clergymen and statesmen in their own words. And it ain’t pretty.

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April 5th, 2012 | Comments (87)

Letter From Athens: Inside the Greek Crisis with Anarchists and the Radicalized Ex-Middle-Class

I arrived in Athens only hours after the February 12 anti-austerity riots, the acrid odor of burnt-out banks still lingering downtown. I checked into a familiar haunt, the Hostel Zorbas on Victoria Square. The last time I stayed there, in the summer of 2001, the place still took drachmas and buzzed with backpackers just returned from Piraeus, where the ferries fan out to the pleasure islands of the Aegean. A decade later, those memories felt like the flashback scenes in The Road.

March 14th, 2012 | Comments (85)

Slums of Detroit: A Look At The Heart of America's 2nd Most Deserted City

I was in Detroit to visit my girlfriend’s family for Thanksgiving and decided to take a look around. Knowing my tastes, locals told me to head for a burnt-out slum called Highland Park, HP for short, as it’s hands-down the…

December 14th, 2009 | Comments (118)

Living With Cons and Paupers in Canada's Arctic Waters

I came to extreme poverty late in life, and did very badly at it. I should have done some kind of crime. But what kind? That’s what I couldn’t figure out. What kind of crime can you actually do, if…

August 18th, 2009 | Comments (67)

Tips for New Paupers

Little did I know that when I lost everything last year, I was doing research. At the time I thought it was just stupidity or bad luck or both. But now that the economy’s crashing, it turns out I’ve been…

October 15th, 2008 | Comments (35)