Book Bits: 3 June 2023

Life after Capitalism: The Meaning of Wealth, the Future of the Economy, and the Time Theory of Money
George Gilder
Review via
Though Gilder penned what many view as the underlying philosophy of supply-side economics with the brilliant Wealth and Poverty in 1981, in his spectacular 2013 book Knowledge and Power Gilder began to question the “incentive” economics that at least on the surface informs supply-side.
To Gilder, wealth is the creation of information, and individual tax rates arguably aren’t as relevant there, particularly in technology. We’re talking about people obsessed with inventing the future. The latter tells us they too aren’t checking individual tax rates ahead of time before deciding whether to work at the Post Office or start a new business. About the Post Office, a card-carrying, well-regarded and well-published supply sider once literally told me that high tax rates would cause our greatest entrepreneurs to take jobs in the Post Office…About all this, tax rates DO matter. Big time. That supply is the source of all demand is a tautology. But tax rates arguably aren’t the work catalyst for the reasons long expressed by supply siders.

Culture Shock: An unstoppable force has changed how we work and live
Jim Clifton and Jim Harter
Summary via publisher (Gallup Press)
A staggering 90% of U.S. employees with desk and office jobs don’t want the old workplace and commute to return. They love their newfound freedom — and expect it from their workplace. How organizations adapt to this culture shock will determine whether they thrive or even survive and whether U.S. and global productivity will go up or down. The immediate danger is that most employees will now operate more like independent contractors or gig workers than employees who are loyal and committed to your organization. The risk grows as your workforce’s mindset continues to shift from my life at work to my life at home. It may become nearly impossible to create a culture of committed team members and powerful relationships at work.

The Search: Finding Meaningful Work in a Post-Career World
Bruce Feller
Review via The Wall Street Journal
This spring, millions of Americans will graduate from high school and college. Almost none of them will work in the same job from degree to retirement and only a handful think they will. There are no longer many career ladders set firmly in place early in adult life. Work is less predictable, less linear and sometimes less secure.
That can be scary, but it’s also an opportunity. “Fewer people search merely for work these days,” Bruce Feiler writes. “More people search for work with meaning.” In “The Search,” Mr. Feiler makes the case that, by reflecting on their personal experience and asking a few probing questions of themselves, people can craft “work stories”—that is, narratives that help people make sense of their various professional twists and turns and help people create their own definitions of success alongside the meaning they are looking for. And “each person gets to decide that meaning for themselves.”

The Monetarists: The Making of the Chicago Monetary Tradition, 1927–1960
George S. Tavlas
Summary via publisher (U. of Chicago Press)
The Chicago School of economic thought has been subject to endless generalizations—and mischaracterizations—in contemporary debate. What is often portrayed as a monolithic obsession with markets is, in fact, a nuanced set of economic theories born from decades of research and debate. The Monetarists is a deeply researched history of the monetary policies—and personalities—that codified the Chicago School of monetary thought from the 1930s through the 1960s. These policies can be characterized broadly as monetarism: the belief that prices and interest rates can be kept stable by controlling the amount of money in circulation. As economist George S. Tavlas makes clear, these ideas were more than just the legacy of Milton Friedman; they were a tradition in theory brought forth by a crucible of minds and debates throughout campus.

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