Book Bits: 29 July 2023

Our Least Important Asset: Why the Relentless Focus on Finance and Accounting is Bad for Business and Employees
Peter Cappelli
Review via Publishers Weekly
Misguided bean counting leads businesses to mistreat their workers to the detriment of profits, according to this incisive treatise. Wharton professor Cappelli (Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs) pillories financial accounting rules set by the nonprofit Financial Accounting Standards Board that regard wages, benefits, and training as costs to be minimized, resulting in the undervaluation of employees. These perverse incentives, he explains, lead to outcomes that are bad for business, as when the costs of increased turnover outweigh nominal savings from layoffs and pay cuts, and when the outsourcing of labor to “reduce costs in the ‘employment’ accounting category” ends up costing the same as employee wages would have.

Uncomfortably Off: Why the Top 10% of Earners Should Care about Inequality
Marcos González Hernando and Gerry Mitchell
Summary via publisher (Policy Press/Bristol U. Press)
Media attention is often focused on the very richest, the 1%, and their capacity to influence politics and shape society. But they are not the only ones who drive politics, the public conversation and much of the private sector. The focus of this book is on the larger group between the 1% and the 10%. These are the managers and professionals of our media, business, the third sector, political parties and academia and are just as influential. However, many would not recognise themselves as high earners at all. In fact, earning around £60,000 a year in Britain places you in the top 10% of income earners. Maybe you’re surprised you fall into this category, or are not as far off as you thought. Despite this group’s relative advantage and comfort, these high earners don’t always feel politically empowered. They worry about their income and are anxious about the future. Most of them are more likely to move down the income ladder than up it.

Neuromined: Triumphing over Technological Tyranny
Robert Edward Grant and Michael Ashley
Summary via
Are advances in technology working for us or against us? When our phones become our keys to access everything, will our lives be more convenient or more at the mercy of whoever can hack into our devices? Will self-driving cars help us maximize our time and get to our destination safely, or will they erode the autonomy and freedom we feel when we drive ourselves? What happens if the government, in the name of public health, gains access to the data in our handy fitness trackers and uses it to reward or limit us?

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