Book Bits | 11.9.13

White-Collar Government: The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policy Making
By Nicholas Carnes
Essay by author via
On both sides of the aisle, the vast majority of our lawmakers come from the most privileged slice of American society. If Barack Obama, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell sat down to talk about how to solve the budget impasse, no one at the table would have a net worth under $1.7 million.
And they aren’t alone. Working-class jobs – manual labor and service-industry positions – make up a majority of our labor force, but people from those kinds of jobs make up less than 2 percent of Congress. Meanwhile, millionaires – who make up less than 5 percent of the country – control all three branches of the federal government: They have a majority in the House, a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House.

The American Health Care Paradox: Why Spending More is Getting Us Less
By Elizabeth Bradley and Lauren Taylor
Summary via publisher, Public Affairs
For decades, experts have puzzled over why the U.S. spends more on health care but suffers poorer outcomes than other industrialized nations. Now Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren A. Taylor marshal extensive research and get to the root of this paradox: We’ve left out of our tally the most impactful expenditures countries can make to improve their citizens’ health—investments in social services. In The American Health Care Paradox, Bradley and Taylor illuminate how narrow definitions of “health care,” archaic divisions in the distribution of health and social services, and our allergy to government programs combine to create needless suffering and cost.
Family Wealth Management: Seven Imperatives for Successful Investing in the New World Order
By Mark Haynes Daniell and Tom McCullough
Summary via publisher, Wiley
Family Wealth Management is co-authored by two experts in the field of private wealth – one, a former director of Bain & Company and the chairman of two of the world’s largest family trusts, and the other, a CEO of a leading global family office and professor of finance from University of Toronto. The book introduces you to a unique model of wealth management that produces the desired return outcomes while being consistent with a family’s overarching goals and values. The approach combines the best traditional investment and portfolio management practices with innovative new approaches designed to successfully navigate through economic climates both fair and foul. While the authors address the critical “hard” issues of asset management, they also emphasize important “soft” issues of working with families to ensure that actions are congruent with objectives, in alignment with family governance principles and designed to help sustain and grow family wealth over multiple generations.
The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters
By Gregory Zuckerman
Review via American Enterprise Institute (Mark Perry)
I just finished reading an advance copy of a really interesting new book titled “The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters” by Gregory Zuckerman, a financial journalist and special writer at the Wall Street Journal. It’s a fascinating and detailed account of America’s great shale revolution, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about what is probably the most important energy chapter in US history.
Zuckerman skillfully presents a very detailed and readable story of the American wildcatters who eventually “cracked the code” for shale oil and gas and revolutionized the US energy sector starting in about 2008. While the major oil companies had given up on finding new oil and gas in America and focused on exploration elsewhere – Africa, Asia, Russia – a small group of US “petropreneurs” were determined to find cost-effective technologies to unlock the oceans of oil and gas they knew were trapped inside shale rock formations saturated with fossil fuels miles below the Earth’s surface.
Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA
By Benjamin C. Waterhouse
Summary via publisher, Princeton University Press
Lobbying America tells the story of the political mobilization of American business in the 1970s and 1980s. Benjamin Waterhouse traces the rise and ultimate fragmentation of a broad-based effort to unify the business community and promote a fiscally conservative, antiregulatory, and market-oriented policy agenda to Congress and the country at large. Arguing that business’s political involvement was historically distinctive during this period, Waterhouse illustrates the changing power and goals of America’s top corporate leaders.
Reputation Economics: Why Who You Know Is Worth More Than What You Have
By Joshua Klein
Summary via publisher, Palgrave Macmillan
s the internet has increasingly become more social, the value of individual reputations has risen, and a new currency based on reputation has been created. This means that not only are companies tracking what an individual is tweeting and what sites they spend the most time on, but they’re using this knowledge to predict the consumer’s future behavior. And a world in which Target knows that a woman is pregnant before she does, or where a person gets a job (or loses one) based on his high school hijinx is a scary one indeed. But what if there were a way to harness the power of these new technologies to empower the individual and entrepreneur? What if it turned out that David was actually better suited to navigate this new realm of reputation than Goliath? And what if he ushered in a new age of business in which reputation, rather than money, was the strongest currency of all? This is all currently happening online already.