Do men still read fiction?

I used to read a lot of fiction but almost every book I see on the shelves of the bookshops I frequent today provide near zero interest. My wife reads continuously but almost none of what interests her interests me (and vice versa I might add). Very little that is published seems to be written by men writing for other men about men doing the kinds of adventurous things men have always done. Anyway, I bring this up in response to a post at Instapundit that reprints this article: WHY WON’T MEN READ MY PREACHY LITERATI BULLSHIT? It’s a fisking of some female author who asks where have all the male book-readers gone? But what specially interested me were the comments on the article at Instapundit. These capture much of my own present frustration:

“So many books, so little time” is a meme I ponder as I look at the shortness of my life remaining and much of the absolute dreck being published these days. I will read most any genre if ‘I’ find it well written. If it makes me think, wonderful, if it just entertains, cool, if I think it’s a real page turner I’m in heaven, and I don’t really care who or what about the writer unless I was enthralled enough to seek out other works by the same author.

I’m not sure how they even gather the statistics she cites. I buy a lot of e-books and audiobooks. I don’t recall ever being asked if I was a guy or a ‘chick’ when I bought a book online. So how do they know who is reading what?
Furthermore, the last few times I went into an actual ‘new books’ bookstore, the latest selections in the scifi and mystery sections were wöke crap. So if I go into an actual bookstore, it’s likely that it’s a ‘used’ bookstore. I doubt that used bookstores report such data, and I doubt that publishers gather that data.

There are a number of excellent female authors. It’s entertaining if you are prepared ahead of time by knowing it’s all ‘manners and morals’ about money, marriage, and feminine intrigue, and mostly set indoors. Like listening to your favorite aunt tell funny family stories; pleasant Sunday afternoon conversation.

It seems to me – based on all the professional NYT reviews, NY Review of Books, the TImes LTS, etc. – that women’s fiction is being pushed hard (based on what reviewers’ bother to review). Everywhere it’s 90% women’s books that are being headlined…. Even in my favorite genres, male authors prefer female heroes. It’s all about female space captains, women warlords, girl magicians, and sultry female assassins.

Same with the movies.

My reply to a request for the title of my latest book

I received an email with the following heading: “Can you please advise me of the title of Steve Kates’ latest book?” After almost a week I wrote the following in answer to the original query.

This was passed on to me and am grateful for the request which would have been extremely simple to reply to, as follows:

Thank you for your request: this is the tile: Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy and this is the link to the publisher’s website:

However, what then almost immediately came to mind was how best to get the points I am trying to make across, assuming that is actually why you were interested in the title. So what follows is the evolved reply that immediately came into my head which you will hopefully be able to read below which I will eventually be able to put up on the blog.
My latest book is Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy and this was the summary at the publisher’s website [ ]
Economic theory reached its highest level of analytical power and depth in the middle of the nineteenth century among John Stuart Mill and his contemporaries. This book explains classical economics when it was at its height, followed by an analysis of what took place as a result of the ensuing Marginal and Keynesian Revolutions that have left economists less able to understand how economies operate.

The chapters explore the false mythology that has obscured the arguments of classical economists, clouding to the point of near invisibility the theories they had developed. Steven Kates offers a thorough understanding of the operation of an economy within a classical framework, providing a new perspective for viewing modern economic theory from the outside. This provocative book not only explains the meaning of Say’s Law in an accessible way, but also the origins of the Keynesian revolution and Keynes’s pathway in writing The General Theory. It provides a new look at the classical theory of value at its height that was not based, as so many now wrongly believe, on the labour theory of value.

A crucial read for economic policy makers seeking to understand the operation of a market economy, this book should also be of keen interest to economists generally as well as scholars in the history of economic thought.


This is, of course, the history of economics which has a fairly heavy dose of political philosophy mixed in with the economics. It is also historic and explains how economic theory ended up in the mess it is now in. It is not really for someone who has not previously studied economic theory (which, for all I know, you may well have done) and I imagine requires quite some background in the way that economic theory became what it has become. Therefore, on the assumption that your interest is in economic theory in relation to policy, then the book I would recommend, which is not my most recent, is the third edition of my classroom text: Free Market Economics: An Introduction for the General Reader. This is the publisher’s summary:


In this thoroughly updated third edition of Free Market Economics, Steven Kates assesses economic principles based on classical economic theory. Rejecting mainstream Keynesian and neoclassical approaches even though they are thoroughly covered in the text, Kates instead looks at economics from the perspective of an entrepreneur making decisions in a world where the future is unknown, innovation is a continuous process and the future is being created before it can be understood….

The aim of this book is to redirect the attention of economists and policy makers towards the economic theories that prevailed in earlier times. Their problems were little different from ours but their way of understanding the operation of an economy and dealing with those problems was completely different.

There is then, in relation to economic theory, my Economics for Infants which is discussed at the publisher’s website [ ]. It is not really for infants, of course, but is done in the form of a children’s book. This is the summary put up by the publisher:

A perfect book to read to your children and grandchildren!

How do you explain the complexities of the economic order to a child? In this retro-inspired illustrated book, Associate Professor Steven Kates attempts this task in a storybook form. A basic primer on economics for the youngest of readers.

The text is to the point but what makes the book so valuable are the drawings by Liam Capello who has a phenomenal gift for representing text pictorially, who is now pursuing another career direction. But I have to say, especially with the drawings accompanying the text, that it explains some very complicated things in a very simple way. 
Finally, let me just mention this, which you can just download from the CIS in Sydney at this web address:  – This discusses the operation of the price mechinism which is dealt with in the first two books discussed above but this goes into it much more deeply. It explains precisely why no socialist system has ever worked or can ever be expected to work by showing how pricing and entrepreneurial decision-making is the key to understanding how things actually operate.
Anyway, I hope this has been of some help to you. Your request has certainly been of some help to me.
And if you have any further questions, feel free to drop me a note.
With kindest best wishes.

Leoplodstadt by Tom Stoppard

From Wikipedia.

Leopoldstadt is a play by Sir Tom Stoppard, which premiered on 25 January 2020 at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End. The play is set among the Jewish community of Vienna in the first half of the 20th century and follows the lives of “a prosperous Jewish family who had fled the pogroms in the East”. According to Stoppard the play “took a year to write, but the gestation was much longer. Quite a lot of it is personal to me, but I made it about a Viennese family so that it wouldn’t seem to be about me.”

The opening scene is set in 1900 but other than the dress and gadgetry available to the family, it could have been about any modern Jewish family anywhere in the West right now. The second scene is set in post-World War I Vienna in 1924 where the family is all far to the left in the manner of the 1920s. The third scene is set in November 1938 on the day of Kristallnacht. And the final scene, with virtually all of the family now dead, is set in 1955, again in Vienna. 

The best piece of theatre I have seen in many a year.

“If our economy of freedom fails to distribute wealth as ably as it has created it…”

I came across this quote from Will Durant which stopped me in my tracks:

“If our economy of freedom fails to distribute wealth as ably as it has created it, the road to dictatorship will be open to any man who can persuasively promise security to all.”

I then went searching and found an entire storehouse of quotes from him that are just as profound: The Lessons of History Quotes, taken from:

The Lessons of History

A few more from the link:

“Normally and generally men are judged by their ability to produce—except in war, when they are ranked according to their ability to destroy.”

“History is, above all else, the creation and recording of that heritage; progress is its increasing abundance, preservation, transmission, and use. To those of us who study history not merely as a warning reminder of man’s follies and crimes, but also as an encouraging remembrance of generative souls, the past ceases to be a depressing chamber of horrors; it becomes a celestial city, a spacious country of the mind, wherein a thousand saints, statesmen, inventors, scientists, poets, artists, musicians, lovers, and philosophers still live and speak, teach and carve and sing. The historian will not mourn because he can see no meaning in human existence except that which man puts into it; let it be our pride that we ourselves may put meaning into our lives, and sometimes a significance that transcends death. If a man is fortunate he will, before he dies, gather up as much as he can of his civilized heritage and transmit it to his children. And to his final breath he will be grateful for this inexhaustible legacy, knowing that it is our nourishing mother and our lasting life.”

“The conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it—perhaps as much more valuable as roots are more vital than grafts.”

“[…] violent revolutions do not so much redistribute wealth as destroy it. There may be a redivision of the land, but the natural inequality of men soon re-creates an inequality of possessions and privileges, and raises to power a new minority with essentially the same instincts as in the old. The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.”

Every political leader comes with a political style which is not how one judges a political leader

I wrote a book of my own on Donald Trump which, if you ask me, is still about the best book available on America’s 44th president: The Art of the Impossible: A Blog History of the Election of Donald J. Trump as President. Also published by Connor Court as is this one, a book that was reviewed a few days ago at Quadrant Online under the heading: Donald Trump, Magnificent Vulgarian. The book was written by Richard Alston, who ought to know something about politics but perhaps has lost a bit of feel for the subject in his years on the sidelines. Is Donald Trump’s appeal all that difficult to understand? Seems so:

Alston is no apologist for Trump. Quite the contrary. While seeing Trump as the ultimate political risk-taker, trailblazer and disruptive contrarian, Alston lists many of Trump’s personal character failings on no less than a dozen occasions, including: ‘not only an amoralist but a true vulgarian who fails the character test’; ‘brutish vulgarian’; ‘eccentric high achiever’; ‘disorganised’; ‘vindictive’; and of having the ‘morals of an alley cat’ to name a few. To counter these character failings, Alston does however describe Trump as having a ‘magnetic attraction’, acknowledges his ‘political bravery … [and] invaluable business experience’, and his ‘strategic and deliberate’ approach.

There may be no one in Australia who has paid closer attention to Trump than I have, with the added advantage that I grew up in North America and watched the American political system from close at hand, although admittedly from the northern side of Lake Ontario.

This is how the review ends.

Much commentary in this area indulges in disgust for Trump’s personal qualities. Alston records his distaste for Trump’s character, but as a prelude to a serious review and critique of Trump’s record in office. While the dust is a long way from settling on the Trump presidency, Alston’s contribution is a stake in the ground. It is now on others to offer their qualified opinions.       

You want my opinion. Alston is pandering to the left who could find no policy issues to argue against so chose to argue about Trump’s personality. And as it happens, Trump, the greatest American president of my lifetime, may yet return to the White House in 2024.

I will just note that the comments on this review at QoL largely take my side of the issue, with this one mentioned not just because I agree with it but also because it is short and to the point.

By the living daylights you lot are hard markers. For one, he [Trump, that is] is conservative in his economic policies and pro business. Secondly, he has incredible poise. Witness when he arrived for the State of the Union address. OK, he’s a New York property billionaire, however being President of the most powerful nation ever in the history of our world is another thing altogether. He arrived in the room as though it was his parent’s home. Totally self assured and confident in his bearing. This behaviour is not presidential? So is speaking at Klu Klux Clan [sic] funerals presidential [here reminding us that Biden spoke at Robert Byrd’s funeral]? Which President had an Italian opera singer sing Ave Maria on the White House portico? So is Christian and proud of it not Presidential?

It seems commentators compete to damn him for what are essentially peccadillos. It not as though leaders of the western world are thick on the ground.

Exactly as I think of these things myself. I will add in the last of the comments since it also gets to the point that needs to be made.

To say the obvious, Trump would not have become president were there not a deep underlying comprehension among many US citizens that the Left is Evil.
And so, the Left had to destroy Trump. Which they did.
The mainstream media is 90% Evil Left – as it is in Australia too, of course.
It’s just in Australia too few non-Leftists can see this, or rather are too complacent to bother to look.


An ancient fairy tale whose message is as alive as ever in the Age of Covid

The moral: never trust Foxy Loxy, examples of which can be found everywhere. Every one of them has an agenda completely different from the one they pretend to have. Specially if some “leader” is trying to convince you that Covid requires you to pass on all of your freedoms to the government so that they can take care of you, remember Foxy Loxy. And there are Foxy Loxies everywhere.

And just in case you don’t remember: Who was Foxy Loxy?    

Image result for foxy loxy 1943

Foxy Loxy is the main antagonist of the 1943 animated short Chicken Little. His motive is to simply eat all of the birds living within the gated farm yard.

This tells a story of how Disney made the film in 1943 where the moral was everything. Not a children’s movie at the time, but people have to grow up eventually. And do go to the vid below which has a brief introduction to the entire Disney version which is as up-to-date as the morning post.

Nothing changes but the names and dates.

Speaking of which, I grew up with the story known to me as Chicken Little, but my European-born wife brought up in Australia knows it under the name Henny Penny. And the Henny Penny link will add even more of its history. Quite an interesting history, but they all have one bit in common, the hysteria following the declaration that “the sky is falling”.

We have to spend money we don’t have to stop us from going bankrupt

Let me again mention my book on Classical Economics and the Modern Economy the review of which I discussed here. It is not all that unusual that an author should be fond of a book he has written, so you will have to forgive me having written the following to a colleague who has also written a positive review of the book somewhere else. This is what I wrote:

It was indeed a phenomenal review. But then I wrote to someone else, as a joke, that it has made me want to read the book myself, which in fact is what I have now begun to do and am half way through. And while you may feel he has provided a more in-depth understanding, and undoubtedly he has, yours was as on-the-mark as any I could have hoped for.

In re-reading what I sent to the publisher more than a year ago, and possibly finished the copy editing process at least a year ago, I am amazed how well it has come out. It says everything I even now would want to say and it says it as clearly as I am capable of saying it. I found one gremlin (and they were always going to be there), but there is nothing I wish I had added and there were a number of surprises where I had said something I had forgotten I had even included.

But what reading the text made me realise even more than before, no one else, certainly no one else alive today, will ever see what the book is saying. It will perhaps be in fifty years when some library goes about selling off its discarded texts that someone might pick it up and read it then and really see the point, in the same ways as I saw Mill’s point 150 years after his Principles was published in 1848.

But for almost anyone alive today, I am much too obscure and no one will ever take my word for it against the massive edifice of modern theory. For all that, I have just read the small bit on productive vs unproductive consumption and have marvelled again at how such a perspective has evaporated entirely from the body of economic theory. It is not only obvious, but essential.

And then this came up which you would have to understand economic theory in an entirely different way from what you see in the textbooks to see just how stupid this is: V.P. Biden ’09: ‘We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt’.

On Wednesday, Democrats passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution and, with the help of 19 Republicans, a $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” bill.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the total public debt outstanding as of Aug. 9, 2021, was $28,427,651,083,061.54, or roughly $28.4 trillion.

How this will prevent the US from going bankrupt we will now all live to see for ourselves.

Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy reviewed at the QJAE

This is the most positive review of any book I have ever written. And aside from much else, it is the first time a review of one of my books taught me something about a book I had written that I did not know myself and was pleased to find out. I just hope the attachment will open for you so that you can read it for yourself. It is, as you might imagine, a very positive review and by someone whose judgement I trust and value.

Book Review: Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy which has been written by a true scholar himself, Per Bylund who is at the University of Oklahoma. Not sure how long that link will last but hopefully long enough for anyone who is interested to read it for themselves.

If you cannot open the link, the review can be found in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Volume 24, Number 2, pages 374-378, Summer 2021. 
I realise, alas, that this goes well off into and beyond the hinterland of virtually everyone else’s interest, even among economists, but what you would find between the covers of the book has been the central perspective of my academic life, my professional life, and family aside, the centre of much of my adult life as well.
As a reader of second-hand books and a second-hand bookshop troll since the age of eleven, I am all too sadly aware how rapidly books disappear into the past where perhaps, very occasionally, someone with a similar interest will pick the book up and perhaps even read it. There are many books on my shelves which I may have been near-on one of only a handful of others to have read in possibly a century, and even where they might have been more widely read, it is only ever so often.
All is vanity, but even so, there are moments like this, when I read an astonishingly accurate review of something I have put together that brings that moment of satisfaction that will last until the next time I am caught up in traffic (very likely tomorrow) or something equally annoying and distracting. But it is very rare to find that someone else has understood what you had hoped to say, and this is one of those times, for which I could not be more grateful.
I commend the review to you. And for those with the right kind of spirit of adventure, my suggestion is that you perhaps go out and ask your local library to buy a copy so that you, and perhaps others, can read it. 
A wonderful moment for me which I am pleased to be able to share with you. 
I will add that having read the review I have gone back to read it for myself, and even for me it is full of surprises. Highly recommended, even if I do say so myself.

Economics for Infants

Economics for Infants – full text with illustrations (1)

Available for sale here.

And here is my recommendation.

If you have friends who like the way a market economy works, and who are leery of governments, buy a copy for their children. Their parents will enjoy the book as much as their children, who will learn things they would not otherwise find out so early in life.

However, for parents of a contrary disposition, buy the book for their children, as above, but never expect the book to be passed on to their children, and certainly not read to them. You will just have to content yourself with knowing the parents have read the book and then had a meltdown before throwing it on the compost heap, or hopefully passing it on to the local op-shop where someone else will buy it.

Modern economics provides no sound advice on how to manage an economy

Modern economic theory is complete trash, as I have noted before, but which is now also discussed here: Dismal Economics.

Although neoclassical economics relies on assumptions that should have been discarded long ago, it remains the mainstream orthodoxy. Three recent books, and one older one, help to show why its staying power should be regarded as a scandal.

Let me therefore mention my own book that deals with this ongoing scandal, a book which is now available as a paperback: Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy. This is the short description at the link:

Economic theory reached its zenith of analytical power and depth of understanding in the middle of the nineteenth century among John Stuart Mill and his contemporaries. This book explains what took place in the ensuing Marginal Revolution and Keynesian Revolution that left economists less able to understand how economies operate. It explores the false mythology that has obscured the arguments of classical economists, providing a pathway into the theory they developed.

Modern economic theory provides no obstacle to any of the inanities that pass for public economic policy at the present time. If anything, vast oceans of public sector debt and huge increases in the stock of money are seen as in keeping with modern theory, which they largely are.