Ew, economics! Don't get bored by the subject before you give this book a chance. This book is not only engaging, it's practically riveting. It's not...moreEw, economics! Don't get bored by the subject before you give this book a chance. This book is not only engaging, it's practically riveting. It's not really economics as most people think of it, but probably economics as it should be. See, economics isn't really about money. It's more about the psychology of human motivation. What causes people to do the strange things they do? Isn't that something we always ask? Imagine, here we have an entire academic subject devoted to that exact question, and the experts of the field mostly just use those tools to bicker over rising and falling prices and the value of the dollar.
This economics professor is bored with that, and admits he's not actually very good at it. He's a lot more like a social psychologist. He uses economics to address some fascinating questions. What caused the sudden drop in crime in the 90's? Answer: Roe v. Wade. Seriously. Read the book for the persuasive though controversial explanation. Another interesting question: if drug dealing is such a lucrative business, why do most drug dealers live with their moms, and if it's not so lucrative, why do they persist in such a risky profession? This chapter is fascinating because he was actually able to get his hands on the books of a king pin of a crack gang, who had surprisingly detailed accounting.
There are more interesting things this book discusses, but those were two that stood out for me. This book wasn't deeply profound, but the writing is extremely engaging, fun, and fascinating. Definitely worth reading.(less)
A fairly pretentious, judgmental, poorly-written book about the joys of unemployment and retirement, packed with contradictions and boring anecdotes....moreA fairly pretentious, judgmental, poorly-written book about the joys of unemployment and retirement, packed with contradictions and boring anecdotes. It has plenty of insightful quotes and statistics, but the author doesn't specifically reference a single one of them. Nonetheless, I just had to read this book because its subject matter is practically my religion, but I was extremely disappointed. I know a big reason is that it's all so old-hat and obvious to me by now. It helped to read the letters at the end to remind me that so many people are workaholics, and this subject is really quite profound.(less)
This book details many of the ways the ultra-rich cheat the tax system, reaping billions of dollars in unpaid taxes. This book never fails to explain...moreThis book details many of the ways the ultra-rich cheat the tax system, reaping billions of dollars in unpaid taxes. This book never fails to explain this means that revenue must be made up by the lower- and middle-classes.
Some of these tricks are extremely clever, conceived by highly paid tax lawyers. I do mean HIGHLY paid--many of these tricks cost a million dollars just for the sales pitch! These aren't just loopholes and illegal maneuvers--although this book outlines plenty of those--this book focuses on "perfectly legal" tricks which can only be explained by the influence of wealth in politics.
As I read this book, I alternated between horror and boredom, which is why it took me so long to finish. The author has a knack for presenting a dismal case, but he sticks to the facts. And we're talking about politics and taxes here--it can get pretty dry. Politically, he's a very balanced writer. He has no love for either major party, but otherwise it's impossible to pin down his ideology. That's impressive for such a hot political topic as taxes.
This book is almost 10 years old, and only recently has this discussion arisen in politics, with Obama, Buffett, and the Occupy Movement. Nobody wants to tackle it. It's a big and very complex problem. At the end, this book explains some of the trade-offs. But it can be solved--must be solved--if we really want to live in a democracy. It all starts with discussions like this book.(less)