Robert Frank has a strong message, which is we are spending too much of our money in keeping up with our peers and the rich. We do this in order to liRobert Frank has a strong message, which is we are spending too much of our money in keeping up with our peers and the rich. We do this in order to live in a better neighborhood, and send the kids to a better school, and it sends prices up. The sizes of people’s houses has been increasing as well. When you compare your house to large oversized house suddenly it looks small. But comparing to another poorer country it may seem large. There’s relatively in play.
Frank uses an example of replacing his broken backyard grill. At the store he’s shown a super deluxe do everything grill that costs $5,000. He tells the salesperson there’s no way he’s buying that, so now shown a $1,000 grill that seems like a bargain in comparison. But what he went in to buy he hoped to spend more like a 10th of the cheap one. This is one way people end up spending more than they expect.
When looking at cars, they have become increasingly bigger and heavier. Now a cheaper small car that was more than adequate 20 or 30 years ago is not as safe as it used to be if involved in a car accident. For safety reasons then a family may choose to buy a bigger and heavier car than they need.
Frank also relates research that consistently shows that buying more things, including bigger houses does not make one happier. We need to stop buying bigger houses and heavier cars. We often don’t recognize the trade off, of bigger house to working more hours, which means less time for spending with family and friends. He also goes into some of the research on happiness, or overall satisfaction with one's life.
The voluntary simplicity movement has been talking about reducing buying of stuff for over 20 years and has done little to change the situation. Frank points out that it’s one thing to reduce your spending when you’re a top wage earner, but if you are struggling and already take your lunch to work, have a 15 year old car, there is no room to cut back. Thus the simplicity movement really does not apply to many.
Frank has a policy solution, which is a progressive tax on consumption with no taxes on savings.
It was a short book, I got through it in a day. It felt on occasion somewhat academic as he uses the economist terminology and gives several thought experiments throughout. Since it is a short book, full of information, albeit a little dated, it is worth one’s time to read if interested in this topic.
A fictional account of a family in Ohio where the parents are of mix race and during a time when women were expected to stay in the home instead of woA fictional account of a family in Ohio where the parents are of mix race and during a time when women were expected to stay in the home instead of working. Unfortunately for the wife of the story, she wanted more. Several other issues are touched on in the book as well, but I don't want to give anything away. A very good first book by author Ng. ...more
Sometimes I'm surprised by what I find in my own little library. I've tried to make a list of everything I own, (goodreads has helped with that endeavSometimes I'm surprised by what I find in my own little library. I've tried to make a list of everything I own, (goodreads has helped with that endeavor) but I have so far failed at being complete. The Last of the Savages is one of those curious books, I found it the other week. I don't remember buying it, nor why, but the sticker on the back revealed that I had bought it used at a Long's Drug store. Not my typical place to purchase books, so another surprise. Perhaps I picked it up because it was something outside of the more commonly found romance or crime thriller book. In any case I am glad I did, and that I gave the book a chance.
This may be the best written book I've read all year. There's subtly, surprise and not a lot of gimmick. It's a book that you read and think this writer is someone who will be remembered. But honestly I haven't heard of Jay McInerney before, and now feel like I had missed him somehow. I will definitely look for more of his books.
The book is about male friendship, two young boys meet at a prep school. One aspires to rise above his roots and wishes he had the background of his roommate Will Savage, who is from an established Southern family who wants to not just shake things, up but to tear it apart. These two are opposites and yet they remain friends through three decades, the 60's through the 80's. History is weaved well into the story and the switching of time from present to remembrances is well done. A lot goes on in the book, and the way it is told could easily have been confusing or gone awry, but McInerery is someone who knows the craft of writing and tells a good tale. ...more
Short book, mainly literary criticism, focused on Thoreau's approach to the Indian, at a time when extermination was more or less the approach. To sayShort book, mainly literary criticism, focused on Thoreau's approach to the Indian, at a time when extermination was more or less the approach. To say Thoreau viewed the natives differently would be an understatement. He viewed them as nature and wondered why their poetry or art was ignored. ...more
Yes! This was a better book than I expected. I listened to the audio version, Elizabeth Warren narrates and I think it added a lot to the book. She stYes! This was a better book than I expected. I listened to the audio version, Elizabeth Warren narrates and I think it added a lot to the book. She starts in the beginning, her childhood and background then carries forth to today as a Senator.
Perhaps I’m a little biased as I do like Elizabeth Warren. I first heard about her on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and those appearances are covered in the book too. We find out how nervous she was while waiting in the green room. I found her to be a refreshing change from most people in politics, but that’s because she wasn’t in it. Now that she is, happily, I’m hoping she won’t change her stance and after reading this book I get the sense that she won’t.
I liked how she included her foibles: getting lost, running into a light pole or something. As someone who also is a little klutzy I can really relate. And perhaps that is her point here, she is just like most average people. But she is also super smart and used her wits with working hard to get where she is today.
My only issue with the book was towards the end, when talking about the campaign leading up to her winning the Senate seat. It was a little too detailed and long. Yes, I understand this was a big deal and an incredible win, but I would have preferred to hear more about how she came to be a politician. All along she talked about not being a politician, not understanding how Washington works when she started working in those circles. And when she starts to run for a Senate seat, very little is discussed about the decision. But this is a minor point.
Warren's background is in bankruptcy law and finance and perhaps that is everything. Money too often is. Bottom line, her message is, that game is rigged in favor of the big banks and people with money and she is trying to change that -- to give the average American A Fighting Chance. Go Warren!
This appears to be another classic book that I really didn't like too much. Perhaps it's me, today, and the me in my early 20's might have enjoyed theThis appears to be another classic book that I really didn't like too much. Perhaps it's me, today, and the me in my early 20's might have enjoyed the book more. Hard to say, but it just didn't appeal to me. I didn't find a lot of philosophizing in this book like I thought it was about; which really was a general impression I had without actually reading reviews. Instead I found a lot of going back and forth across the country, mainly driving without sleeping, drinking all hours and other silly craziness, whew yeah. I found the approach to women reproachable and the craziness of Dean Moriarty annoying instead of entertaining or interesting. With a title On the Road you'd expect it to be about traveling and likely hitchhiking, but the reckless driving with other people's cars entrusted to them, and stealing cars, well that I just couldn't dig. I'm actually disappointed in the book. I had higher expectations than was delivered....more