The NYT reviewer in the OP was repelled by the author's pose ("The aphorisms are sometimes lazy, the facts can be sloppy, and the studied cool – all the while insisting that “I am the uncoolest person you will ever meet” – can be grating."), but ultimately able to get past it to the anecdotes and "directionally correct" analysis in the book.
You can note that the HN readership also had a similar reaction, with varying degrees of being able to move past the initial impression.
Somehow after years of complaining about financial services hiring all our promising mathematicians and physicist, this comment tickles me and puts me in my place at the same time. Sadly, I fear this was not intended as a joke
It would be nice if we could economically rearrange society to amply reward careers in research, teaching, government, public-interest law, community organizing and development, providing social services, and so on (not to mention just regular jobs in factories, agriculture, retail, food preparation, etc.), so that doing work that benefited society was more attractive vis-à-vis zero-sum financial hocus pocus, predatory legal engineering, aggressive marketing/propaganda, internet surveillance, quasi-legal fraud, etc.
[My recommendation would be to dramatically increase taxes on land, inheritances, long-term capital gains, and carbon emissions, and redistribute the proceeds evenly to all citizens. And also to return anti-trust law to its roots and aggressively break apart monopolies and monopsonies, separate different types of financial activities to reduce conflicts of interest, and to dramatically increase funding for government regulatory agencies which are currently infinitely outclassed by industry.]
But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, in our current society. I’m not sure what can be done to help e.g. the kind of business school grads who have already decided that personal success is more important than general social welfare.
As of 2004 the financial services industry (finance industry) represented 20% of the market capitalization of the S&P 500 in the United States." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_services
As Warren Buffet once said:
"It has always been a fantasy of mine that a boatload of 25 brokers would be shipwrecked and struggle to an island from which there could be no rescue. Faced with developing an economy that would maximize their consumption and pleasure, would they, I wonder, assign 20 of their number to produce food, clothing, shelter, etc., while setting five to trading endlessly on the future output of the 20?" -Warren Buffet
The idea that "very little" of it can be replaced with software seems like it might need more support than a bare assertion.
How would you decide what benefited society and what didn't? Centrally planned economies have been tried and failed - the economy is too complex for any single organization to understand, just as the Internet would grind to a halt if a central facility had to decide which way all the packets were routed. The Soviet Union in its early years had some incredibly innovative work in psychology and biology - that no-one followed up because the central planners didn't think it was valuable. In its later years it's estimated that some factories had negative productivity - they were taking valuable raw materials and turning them into products that had made sense in the '30s but no-one now wanted.
We can go into the specifics, but I feel like a lot of the careers in your first list are things that people assume must be valuable because they're public service and/or low-paid. Whereas often these things are low-paid because, when push comes to shove, people don't really put a lot of value on them. Everyone is happy to talk about spending more of other people's money on teachers, community organizers or the like, but when you ask how much they personally would be willing to spend on them, suddenly the answer changes.
(FWIW a lot of finance creates a lot of value through efficient allocation of resources - I won't deny that there are zero-sum aspects (particularly tax avoidance schemes) but the main way these businesses make money is by providing valuable services. Not that I expect you to agree with me. More generally look at e.g. the contributions of private for-profit schools and businesses to the UN development goals for Africa, and compare that to how much well-meaning NGOs and the like have achieved)
> [My recommendation would be to dramatically increase taxes on land, inheritances, long-term capital gains, and carbon emissions, and redistribute the proceeds evenly to all citizens. And also to return anti-trust law to its roots and aggressively break apart monopolies and monopsonies, separate different types of financial activities to reduce conflicts of interest, and to dramatically increase funding for government regulatory agencies which are currently infinitely outclassed by industry.]
First, good on you for giving concrete proposals.
Land tax: completely agreed. Direct money transfers to citizens rather than organized public services: also agreed, but what's your approach to people who e.g. spend all their money at the start of the month and then can't buy food? Or to things like healthcare where it's enormous occasional costs rather than small regular costs? Inheritances: not convinced; it punishes people whose parents die young, and seems impossible to police fairly. Capital gains: I would argue for just taxing it like income, we don't want to discourage investment but nor do we want to disproportionately encourage it. Carbon emissions: disagree with distributing the proceeds, we should be taxing emissions at what it costs to clean them up, and spending the money on doing that. Anti-trust laws: agreed. Financial activities: if you split them up you're going to force more bankruptcies (or more bailouts) - a bank's whole purpose is to be large and diversified so that people can keep their deposits there with confidence. I see that as a much bigger issue than conflicts of interest. Regulatory agencies: maybe. Better to ensure that the regulations are such that it's easy to detect violations, IMO.
Maslow's Hammer rears its head
Because if it isn't the same guy, then what are you talking about?
Even so, assuming Harvard MBAs are a valuable national resource cracks me up. I've dealt with a few
"Underneath the braggadocio and evisceration of professional nemeses in Antonio García Martinez’s book lies the beating heart of a formidable teacher."
is everything that is wrong with journalism. It is hard to read a single sentence after that, your brain just shuts off.
...but to copy that line I couldn't just select and paste because of the NYT's weird website, so I viewed the source. And then it hit even harder...
<meta itemprop="description" name="description" content="Underneath the braggadocio and evisceration of professional nemeses in Antonio García Martinez’s book lies the beating heart of a formidable teacher." />
I haven't read the book but I am planning to.
I caught the last few minutes of your interview on NPR the other day. You said you built the FB Exchange. I made a mental note to look that up later and now serendipitously, it shows up here. Anyhow, not familiar with it but it sounded like some sort of an interface to Amazon. Would you care to elaborate?
You don't dig all that deep into the tech side of the valley, so it's not the geeks. You don't talk all that much about the details of the deals, so it's not the suits. That, leaves ... tourists?
What do you think of Michael O. Church?
There is nothing about a boat that saves money, ever. It's an incredibly rewarding hobby if you're into it, but not cheap!
If he had done the same thing in a saner real-estate market then maybe by now his sailboat habit would have cost him as much as a flat would have, only later. But in the SF Bay I'm pretty sure he never would have caught up, and this way he's the lord & master & captain of his own tiny domain.
I know some people who do, and they enjoy it. Some of them even sail their homes, or take off to Hawaii for a few weeks in their home.
5). An odd shaped hole in the water you throw money into.
Source: I owned a 25 foot sailboat.
"The two best days of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it."
That's so fucking depressing.
From this article take the second to last paragraph.
At the least, readers of “Chaos Monkeys” will think twice before taking at face value tech leaders’ high-minded arguments for refusing to assist our national security apparatus in fighting terrorist threats. Even in the area of advertising, important social and public policy questions are implicated.
This comment hardly fits into the theme and flow of the rest of the review.
I find it hard to read this other than as "It's bullshit, but but bullshit that reinforces my prejudices."