Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review: The Jungle

When I told people that I was listening to the Libravox audio book recording of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, they would all respond, "Isn't that the beef story", or something like that.  Honestly, I got all the way through it, and it's a lot more than that.  Only the first 1/3 of the book is about the meat packing industry.  The second 1/3 of the book is about the misery of the poor, and the final 1/3 is about the benefits of socialism.

This book has been credited with stirring the public to reform the Government's responsibility for inspecting food for public consumption.  But, it attempts to provide an argument for why Capitalism fails the people and why we should re-distribute wealth in order to achieve better health standards.  Having family that lived in the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s, I can tell you that black bananas and rotten meat is the result of a centrally planned government - just as bad as what could result from a corrupt capitalism.

The book is all wrong.  It takes 2/3 of the time to explain dozens of instances of corrupt government and uses this to rationalize giving the government MORE power with FEWER checks instead of simple and liberal application of laws such as they existed at the time - The Sherman Anti Trust Act, and eight years after the publication of this novel, The Clayton Act which Roosevelt and Taft were to use to bust the very corrupt organizations that the book described.

Speaking of Theodore Roosevelt, I completely agree with his assessment of this book calling him a "crackpot", and saying, "I have an utter contempt for him. He is hysterical, unbalanced...".

I'm glad we ended up with an FDA.  And, I'm glad we ended up with the Clayton Act.

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