This book’s personal experiences provide depth but some of the broader, economic generalizations remain unconvincing.

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GET THE HECK OUT OF OUR WAY!

EXAMPLES OF GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS THAT ARE ERODING OUR FREEDOMS, HOLDING BACK THE ECONOMY, AND COSTING US MONEY AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

A treatise argues for a small federal government and fewer regulations.

Debut author Cox contends that running a business in America is far more complicated than it needs to be: “If the government would get out of our way, there is no limit to where we as a people could take our country and ourselves.” How exactly does the government interfere? The author maintains that the federal government in particular is too large, too full of redundancies, and too imposing to allow regular Americans to live their lives (and operate their businesses) as they see fit. The government creates complex regulations (for example, the “Clean Air Act”), passes laws that are thousands of pages long, and seeks to redistribute wealth from people who have earned it to those who have no qualms about taking it. In the author’s opinion, there should be “no departments, bureaus, or commissions that are not absolutely necessary for protecting our freedoms” (although he supports “smart but generous” defense spending). He has a simple message for those in office: “Don’t try to give me what you think I deserve.” To illustrate his views, the book is full of personal experiences that range from installing a water heater without a plumbing license in Massachusetts to encountering problems trying to subdivide land in North Carolina. And while a screed attacking big government is nothing new (and the author notes influences that include Bill O’Reilly and the Heritage Foundation), the book is at its best when describing vivid personal experiences. Pages devoted to the difficulties of owning a mobile home park paint a very specific picture of how trying it can be to deal with the government. When a resident in the park sparks a court battle over a companion animal, it is apparent how the legal system can seem alarmingly whimsical. But some of the author’s more extreme views, such as his attack on the minimum wage, do not gain a lot of traction. Cox presents a good case that laws should be easier to understand and the government should be more transparent. But ideas about abolishing some child labor laws and removing FDA regulations are quixotic at best. 

This book’s personal experiences provide depth but some of the broader, economic generalizations remain unconvincing.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4808-5347-8

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2018

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE

A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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