Book Bits: 16 July 2022

The Win-Win Wealth Strategy: 7 Investments the Government Will Pay You to Make
Tom Wheelwright
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
The government wants your help, and it’s willing to pay handsomely. You just need to know what to do. In The Win-Win Wealth Strategy: 7 Investments the Government Will Pay You to Make, celebrated entrepreneur, investor, and bestselling author Tom Wheelwright, CPA, transforms the way you think about building wealth and challenges the paradigm that tax incentives are immoral loopholes. Backed by deep research in 15 countries, he identifies seven investing strategies that are A-OK with governments worldwide and will fatten your wallet while making the world a better place.

The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization
Peter Zeihan
Review via
Peter Zeihan foresees globalization going into reverse. He may turn out to be correct. Just as he was finishing his book, The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization, the de-globalization process received a jump-start from the Russia-Ukraine War, along with the West’s participation via economic sanctions. But I hope instead that globalization is robust, and that The End turns out to be just a thought-experiment.
Students of economics could benefit greatly by reading through this thought-experiment. Basic economic concepts like opportunity cost and the gains from trade are rarely made concrete. Instead, they are usually taught using simple paper exercises. In contrast, The End describes economic activity as it actually takes place, in all its modern complexity.

An Economist Goes to the Game: How to Throw Away $580 Million and Other Surprising Insights from the Economics of Sports
Paul Oyer
Review via The Wall Street Journal
In “An Economist Goes to the Game: How to Throw Away $580 Million and Other Surprising Insights From the Economics of Sports,” Mr. Oyer applies the reasoning of his discipline to strategy and a good many other aspects of sports. A professor at Stanford Business School and the editor in chief of the Journal of Labor Economics, the author is also a serve-and-volley tennis player and an Oakland A’s fan who wants to use his academic training to “help us understand how sports work both on and off the field.” He comes across as a well-informed and curious spectator, not just an economist.

The Playbook: How to Deny Science, Sell Lies, and Make a Killing in the Corporate World
Jennifer Jacquet
Review via Publishers Weekly
Jacquet (Is Shame Necessary?), a professor of environmental studies at NYU, delivers a tongue-in-cheek guide for corporate leaders seeking to mislead the public and dodge regulatory efforts. Fashioned as a strategy manual, Jacquet’s satirical advice explains how to achieve greater effectiveness in the goals of misdirection and obfuscation. For example, she documents how trade associations, public relations specialists, and private investigators can help challenge the credibility of scientists and reporters, noting that the Koch brothers hired a former New York City police commissioner to dig up dirt on New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer.

Yes to the City: Millennials and the Fight for Affordable Housing
Max Holleran
Summary via publisher (Princeton U. Press)
The exorbitant costs of urban housing and the widening gap in income inequality are fueling a combative new movement in cities around the world. A growing number of influential activists aren’t waiting for new public housing to be built. Instead, they’re calling for more construction and denser cities in order to increase affordability. Yes to the City offers an in-depth look at the “Yes in My Backyard” (YIMBY) movement. From its origins in San Francisco to its current cadre of activists pushing for new apartment towers in places like Boulder, Austin, and London, Max Holleran explores how urban density, once maligned for its association with overpopulated slums, has become a rallying cry for millennial activists locked out of housing markets and unable to pay high rents.

American Cartel: Inside the Battle to Bring Down the Opioid Industry
Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz
Summary via publisher (Twelve Books)
American Cartel is an unflinching and deeply documented dive into the culpability of the drug companies behind the staggering death toll of the opioid epidemic. It follows a small band of DEA agents led by Joseph Rannazzisi, a tough-talking New Yorker who had spent a storied thirty years bringing down bad guys; along with a band of lawyers, including West Virginia native Paul Farrell Jr., who fought to hold the drug industry to account in the face of the worst man-made drug epidemic in American history. It is the story of underdogs prevailing over corporate greed and political cowardice, persevering in the face of predicted failure, and how they found some semblance of justice for the families of the dead during the most complex civil litigation ever seen.

Ethical Machines: Your Concise Guide to Totally Unbiased, Transparent, and Respectful AI
Reid Blackman
Adapted excerpt via Harvard Business Review
In 2019 a study published in the journal Science found that artificial intelligence from Optum, which many health systems were using to spot high-risk patients who should receive follow-up care, was prompting medical professionals to pay more attention to white people than to Black people. Only 18% of the people identified by the AI were Black, while 82% were white. After reviewing data on the patients who were actually the sickest, the researchers calculated that the numbers should have been about 46% and 53%, respectively. The impact was far-reaching: The researchers estimated that the AI had been applied to at least 100 million patients.

Return of the Artisan: How America Went from Industrial to Handmade
Grant McCracken
Summmary via publisher (Simon & Schuster)
In the 1950s, America was a world of immaculate grocery stores, brightly packaged consumer goods, relentless big brand advertising, homes that were much too clean, and diets so rich in salt, sugar, fat, and preservatives you nearly have a heart attack just thinking of them. And while this approach made a great fortune for large consumer packaged goods companies it has been detrimental to American’s overall health and wellbeing. Then, towards the end of the 20th century, Alice Waters and other pioneers figured out how to market natural, handmade, small-batch products to the American consumer again—and the rest is history. Now, we are in the third wave of a revolution. Thanks to COVID-19, millions of Americans went from being consumers of artisanal goods to being producers. People in the mainstream are baking bread, keeping bees, growing vegetables, and even raising chickens.

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