Book Bits: 1 June 2024

The Hamilton Scheme: An Epic Tale of Money and Power in the American Founding
William Hogeland
Summary via publisher (Macmillan)
Forgotten founder” no more, Alexander Hamilton has become a global celebrity. Millions know his name. Millions imagine knowing the man. But what did he really want for the country? What risks did he run in pursuing those vaulting ambitions? Who tried to stop him? How did they fight? It’s ironic that the Hamilton revival has obscured the man’s most dramatic battles and hardest-won achievements—as well as downplaying unsettling aspects of his legacy. Thrilling to the romance of becoming the one-man inventor of a modern nation, our first Treasury secretary fostered growth by engineering an ingenious dynamo—banking, public debt, manufacturing—for concentrating national wealth in the hands of a government-connected elite. Seeking American prosperity, he built American oligarchy. Hence his animus and mutual sense of betrayal with Jefferson and Madison—and his career-long fight to suppress a rowdy egalitarian movement little remembered today: the eighteenth-century white working class.

Cheaper, Faster, Better: How We’ll Win the Climate War
Tom Steyer
Interview with author via
It may be unusual to hear the ultra-rich argue for increasing government regulation of the economy, but billionaire Tom Steyer believes such a thing is necessary to stop the onslaught from climate change. Steyer may be best known for his longtime investment in climate solutions, as well as his decision in 2012 to step away from a highly successful investment fund he had founded.
Like many people who pay attention to the overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels, as explored in his new book “Cheaper, Faster, Better: How We’ll Win the Climate War,” which was released this month. He sees climate changes as a multi-pronged menace, one that causes hardships from mass migration to extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires and droughts.

Poverty for Profit: How Corporations Get Rich off America’s Poor
Anne Kim
Review via Publishers Weekly
Corporations are taking advantage of sclerotic government to skim money off anti-poverty initiatives, according to this stinging exposé. Lawyer and journalist Kim (Abandoned) probes a raft of ill-designed and poorly supervised federal and state programs that are run or mediated by private businesses that jack up prices and deliver substandard services. They include tax preparers that charge low-income taxpayers exorbitant fees to calculate the tax credits they are due, private prisons that charge inmates hundreds of dollars per day for their accommodations, slumlords who make a mint off of low-income housing vouchers, food service companies that sell junk food to kids in school cafeterias, and dental clinic franchises that squeeze profits out of Medicaid reimbursements by subjecting poor kids to painful and unnecessary treatments…. Kim finds plenty of culprits to blame beyond the sleazy corporations: conservatives who insist that business does everything better than government, politicians on the right and the left who cut sweetheart deals with capitalist cronies, a Congress that lurches from one ungainly social-service scheme to the next.

In This Economy?: How Money & Markets Really Work
Kyla Scanlon
Interview with author via
Back in 2021, when GameStop stocks started to surge (along with other meme stocks like AMC and Blackberry), Kyla Scanlon started making TikTok videos. “I kind of noticed that there’s a gap between how people understood the economy and what was actually happening,” said Scanlon in an interview with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal.
This launched Scanlon’s career as an economic educator on social media, with hundreds of thousands of followers across both TikTok and Instagram. Her latest project is a book, “In This Economy? How Money & Markets Really Work,” where she hopes to help people better understand the nuances of the economy and that, at the end of the day, the economy is about people.

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