Political books

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Political books

Postby Zarniwoop » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:03 pm

So we have a what are you reading thread in off topic, I thought I’d create one here as well where we can discuss what we are reading beyond the ridiculous MSM headlines. We can also list books that helped form our own political philosophies and give recommendations.



———————-

I’ll start with a book I’m currently reading...about a third of the way through it


Arthur Ekirch

The Decline of American Liberalism




A couple summaries of it:


From the Revolutionary War and World Wars I and II to the Great Depression and civil rights battles, this chronicle takes a historical look at how principles such as individual liberty and democratic rule have weathered the last few centuries. The growth of state empowerment and its effect on autonomy and the economy is also discussed.






Ekirch traces the history of the liberal idea in the United States from the founding through World War II. He places the high point of true liberalism in the years immediately following the American Revolution, before the federal government began its long march of ever more centralized control over the country. And he shows how this shift has negatively impacted everything from global peace to the economy to individual autonomy.
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Re: Political books

Postby Zarniwoop » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:02 am

OK, got a new book yesterday

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His last book, Anti-fragile, was one of the best books I have ever read in my life. Hoping this one is good as well.


From Amazon:

In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life.

As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. Among his insights:

• For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do. You cannot get rich without owning your own risk and paying for your own losses. Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations.
• Ethical rules aren’t universal. You’re part of a group larger than you, but it’s still smaller than humanity in general.
• Minorities, not majorities, run the world. The world is not run by consensus but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and ethics on others.
• You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot. “Educated philistines” have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb diets.
• Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). A simple barbell can build muscle better than expensive new machines.
• True religion is commitment, not just faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you’re willing to risk for it.
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Re: Political books

Postby PrimeMinister » Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:15 am

Zarni, that book sounds fascinating. I have 2 books to read at the moment but I’ll put this one on the list for next. Please let me know what you think of it as you’re going through it.
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Re: Political books

Postby Zarniwoop » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:52 am

PrimeMinister wrote:Zarni, that book sounds fascinating. I have 2 books to read at the moment but I’ll put this one on the list for next. Please let me know what you think of it as you’re going through it.



I'm about 2/3 of the way through. It's a pretty good book. In the first 1/3 to 1/2 he talks about his general principles of "skin in the game" and why he believes it. The second part of the book gives wide ranging case examples -- from industry, banking, gov't to academia.


Most people will find something they like in the book -- a leftist would like his discussions about the failures of the structure of modern businesses -- particularly banking where companies are able to get massive rewards while pushing risk onto the common citizen. However, that same leftist would hate that Taleb basically shows that 1.) The government played an active role in setting up a system that allows for this 2.) The government is the worst example of not having skin in the game and as a result, they tend to make the very worst decisions of any "group" (gov't vs business vs organization vs charity). Flip the like/dislike for a traditional conservative.

Not many people will agree with everything he has to say.



In terms of writing, it's just OK. At times its too simple and could use lots more precision...he seems to attempt to trade wit for detailed explanation at times. The writing can be unbearably repetitive at times as well (particularly if you have read his old books).

I really like Taleb and have liked most of his writing and podcasts. Like any critic / author...he certainly has his faults but I do agree with most of his thought process.

I still think AntiFragile is by far his best book and should be mandatory reading for every college student.
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Re: Political books

Postby PrimeMinister » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:31 pm

Zarniwoop wrote:
PrimeMinister wrote:Zarni, that book sounds fascinating. I have 2 books to read at the moment but I’ll put this one on the list for next. Please let me know what you think of it as you’re going through it.



I'm about 2/3 of the way through. It's a pretty good book. In the first 1/3 to 1/2 he talks about his general principles of "skin in the game" and why he believes it. The second part of the book gives wide ranging case examples -- from industry, banking, gov't to academia.


Most people will find something they like in the book -- a leftist would like his discussions about the failures of the structure of modern businesses -- particularly banking where companies are able to get massive rewards while pushing risk onto the common citizen. However, that same leftist would hate that Taleb basically shows that 1.) The government played an active role in setting up a system that allows for this 2.) The government is the worst example of not having skin in the game and as a result, they tend to make the very worst decisions of any "group" (gov't vs business vs organization vs charity). Flip the like/dislike for a traditional conservative.

Not many people will agree with everything he has to say.



In terms of writing, it's just OK. At times its too simple and could use lots more precision...he seems to attempt to trade wit for detailed explanation at times. The writing can be unbearably repetitive at times as well (particularly if you have read his old books).

I really like Taleb and have liked most of his writing and podcasts. Like any critic / author...he certainly has his faults but I do agree with most of his thought process.

I still think AntiFragile is by far his best book and should be mandatory reading for every college student.


That is intriguing. I imagine that book would lead to good conversations in the politics forum.
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Re: Political books

Postby beardmcdoug » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:50 pm

Thanks for the recommendations Zarni - everytime I think of Taleb, I can't help but think of Sam Harris's description of him, and laugh my ass off:

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doesn't mean I'm not interested in what Taleb has to say though and sounds like he makes some pretty decent points, based on what you broadly described above
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Re: Political books

Postby Zarniwoop » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:10 pm

Lol. There’s no doubt there is a ton of arrogance in him


Same with Harris and Peterson and Rubin and Pinker and the rest of today’s thinkers. I have no problem with it though. If they didn’t think they were smarter than others they wouldn’t have a public platform.

And I happen to agree with those guys ... they are vastly smarter than most ... while I’m certain none of them have “the answer”, they all perceive the problems fairly astutely and do offer steps in the right direction
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Re: Political books

Postby Zarniwoop » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:57 am

OK so here are some quick hits from the book:

When talking about our military intervention in other countries...Taleb writes the following...which I think can be very easily applied to almost all things in life (including our recent debates on immigration and gun control)....he is criticizing the decision making of Clinton, Bush (both), Obama and everyone else that favors intervention:

....The first flaw is that they are incapable of thinking in second steps and unaware of the need for them....the second flaw is that they are also incapable of distinguishing between multidimensional problems and their single dimension representation...they can't get the idea that complex systems do not have obvious one-dimensional cause and effect mechanisms




In talking about bureaucracy (both governmental and business)

Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions...bureaucratic intervention tends to remove skin from the game



Anyone who has ever worked on a continuous improvement plan such as six sigma or lean can attest to the following:

systems learn by removing parts....via negativa. We often know much better what is wrong, then what is right.





In criticizing the modern obsession with globalism and the push for "oneness" through a following of Kant's categorical imperative

Universal behavior is great on paper, but disastrous in practice....we should focus on our immediate environment; we need simple practical rules....the general and the abstract tend to attract self righteous psychopaths





And anyone who has ever worked on a project designed by an engineer or business person in an ivory tower can empathize with:

Things designed by people without skin in the game tend to grow in complication (before their final collapse
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Re: Political books

Postby Mountaineer Buc » Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:16 pm

One strategy we explored in grad school in strategic planning was the consideration of every decision as being a paradox. One solution creates multiple new problems and mitigating the probability of the anticipated new problems was necessary before continuing with the forward planning.

I prefer reverse planning myself. It requires a specific and defined goal other than....wage war on terrorism.
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Re: Political books

Postby Zarniwoop » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:22 pm

New book I just started


Just two chapters in so far....written in a nice lighthearted manner.

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In How Do I Tax Thee?, libertarian commentator and rising media star Kristin Tate takes us on a tour of the ways the government bleeds us dry in innumerable daily transactions and at various stages of life.

We all know the government taxes our pay: federal, state, and local taxes are withheld by employers, as are social security payments. But what about the many other ways the government drains money from our wallets? Have you studied your cell phone bill? Customers in New York State pay an average of 24.36% in federal, state and local taxes on their wireless bills. They’re also charged for obscure services they didn’t ask for and don’t understand like a universal service fund fee, an FCC compliance fee, a line service fee, and an emergency services fee. These aren’t taxes, strictly speaking. The government imposes these administrative and regulatory costs, and your wireless provider passes them along to you. But the effect is exactly the same.

What about your cable bill? Your power bill? Your water bill? The cost of a gallon of gas, a cab ride, a hotel stay and a movie ticket are all inflated by hidden fees. How much of what you pay at the pump, the box office, or the airport is really an indirect tax?

In a series of short, pointed, fact-laden, humorous chapters, Tate exposes the vast government shakedown that consumes up to half of your income―and also explains where these hidden fees and taxes come from.




if you don't enjoy the premise of the book...maybe you'll enjoy a picture of the author :P


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Re: Political books

Postby Buc2 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:35 pm

Zarniwoop wrote:New book I just started


Just two chapters in so far....written in a nice lighthearted manner.

In How Do I Tax Thee?, libertarian commentator and rising media star Kristin Tate takes us on a tour of the ways the government bleeds us dry in innumerable daily transactions and at various stages of life.

We all know the government taxes our pay: federal, state, and local taxes are withheld by employers, as are social security payments. But what about the many other ways the government drains money from our wallets? Have you studied your cell phone bill? Customers in New York State pay an average of 24.36% in federal, state and local taxes on their wireless bills. They’re also charged for obscure services they didn’t ask for and don’t understand like a universal service fund fee, an FCC compliance fee, a line service fee, and an emergency services fee. These aren’t taxes, strictly speaking. The government imposes these administrative and regulatory costs, and your wireless provider passes them along to you. But the effect is exactly the same.

What about your cable bill? Your power bill? Your water bill? The cost of a gallon of gas, a cab ride, a hotel stay and a movie ticket are all inflated by hidden fees. How much of what you pay at the pump, the box office, or the airport is really an indirect tax?

In a series of short, pointed, fact-laden, humorous chapters, Tate exposes the vast government shakedown that consumes up to half of your income―and also explains where these hidden fees and taxes come from.


As they say... Out of sight. Out of mind. I've been well aware of these "hidden in plain sight" government fees/taxes for a long time. I've had many a discussion with friends/family about this. It is very much a cost we consumers bear. My Directv bill would probably only cost me about $50-$60 a month instead of $100 if the government didn't add on their fees. Gas in my town would cost about $1.95 a gallon right now instead of $2.50.
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Re: Political books

Postby Zarniwoop » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:38 pm

The city I live in is insane with these things. My city contains part of DFW airport and has a huge # of hotels and rental car places. In order for the city to help keep my property taxes low, they tax the living hell out of visitors.




One of the great things about the book is the author isn't necessarily all that anti-tax....she is really coming across as calling out the lack of balls on politicians for hiding them. They put stuff like "Fire and Police Fund"...when in actuality none of that money actually is targeted for the Fire and Police...it's just dropped into general funds.

The deception is eye opening...even for a cynic like me
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Re: Political books

Postby Buc2 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:42 pm

Zarniwoop wrote:The city I live in is insane with these things. My city contains part of DFW airport and has a huge # of hotels and rental car places. In order for the city to help keep my property taxes low, they tax the living hell out of visitors.




One of the great things about the book is the author isn't necessarily all that anti-tax....she is really coming across as calling out the lack of balls on politicians for hiding them. They put stuff like "Fire and Police Fund"...when in actuality none of that money actually is targeted for the Fire and Police...it's just dropped into general funds.

The deception is eye opening...even for a cynic like me


That has been Florida's modus operandi for years. :D

Yeah...I'm sure even I would be surprised at some of the crap the gvt hides from us in the form of fees. I'm probably better off not knowing. I mean, why go looking for yet another thing to piss me off?
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Re: Political books

Postby Zarniwoop » Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:56 pm

Here is a book suggestion for the progressives who have come to deplore classical liberalism...just heard a review of it on the radio...i think you guys would like it...it goes completely against John Locke (indeed it argues his work is the reason the world sucks today), the Enlightenment and individual liberty

https://www.amazon.com/Why-Liberalism-F ... 0300223447

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