Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth (2013)
I could start and end my commentary with this simple imperative: BUY THIS BOOK.
Economics was one subject about which I had little interest and a lot of hostility when forced to take it in college. The teacher tried his best, but trying to explain economic theory to a bunch of kids who have possibly never had any knowledge of how much money their parents make, spend, or what things cost is a rather hopeless proposition. At least for me, combined with minimal exposure to life long enough to seen the actual consequences of economic theory in policymaking and being able to see the short-term and long-term impact of such policies, made the content just too much of a word salad to be useful.
Continue reading Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth
Why Corruption Threatens Global Security: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security by Sarah Chayes (2016)
I finished the book a while ago and meant to do the write while it was fresh but got distracted. It is a very depressing read, but probably important to know the arguments she makes so I’m going to go MUST READ on this book. The focus is on governmental and corporate corruption so obviously no good news with that focus. The problem is that there seems to be an endless supply of corrupt people, or good people stressed or tempted or coerced and turned corrupt. Or willingly ignorant. Or simply evil. I guess it depends on what you believe the core of people is: good or evil? Since I spent childhood ducking and covering under my pathetic school desk (while realizing that it was going to be of no use at all), and my father was a bomber pilot who was absolutely a good man but he dropped bombs and people died. Of course they were scum sucking Nazi’s, but before the demagogue Hitler incited them to hate, they were just bakers, or shop clerks and so on. These same people closed their eyes to the deliberate seizure of their property and then themselves of Jews (or whomever Hitler deemed degenerate races including slavs and gypsies and of course gays) rounded up into synagogues right there in the towns and burned them alive and the synagogues to the ground. And of course the death camps. How can anyone believe in a god after the Holocaust?
So the point is, corruption is also at the heart of so many people that I am not sure it can be stomped out no matter how many whistle-blowers try. The forces of corruption are so great, and wealthy, and rationalized, and dog eat dog, or everyone else is doing it so just looking out for themselves. This is, in essence, the Tragedy of the Commons written by ecologist Garrett Hardin (no relation) in 1968.
Continue reading Thieves of State by Sarah Chayes