I hope you have too.
One study says that 42% of college grads won’t read another book after they finish their schooling.
Please, don’t be like those bozos.
It helps if you turn off the TV.
Please think about doing that more, if not shutting it off for good and getting rid of the damn thing.
Reading “calms the nerves, increases language and reasoning, and can even keep you mentally alert as you age,” according to various studies over the years. “TV, on the other hand, has the opposite effect.”
Watching TV actually makes you more aggressive while lowering your verbal reasoning skills.
In contrast, reading has tons of benefits:
- Just 6 minutes of reading lowers your stress levels by 68%
- Reading reduces your rate of cognitive decline by 32%
- You’ll reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 2.5 times if you read
- The average novel is priced at $8 to $13 and gives you about six hours of entertainment
I’m sure there are other reasons…like that it’s fun and you learn stuff and even kill time (ever ride a bus in a big city? Books help immensely!).
So today let’s talk about a few more good books for you.
Toxic Inequality: How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, & Threatens Our Future.
The book was written by Brandeis University law professor Thomas M. Shapiro in 2017.
It comes in at 218 pages…excluding appendices and notes.
One of the things I liked about this book were the stories.
You don’t get as many facts in this one as you do stories about people losing their homes, their jobs, and just about everything else.
Plus there are tons of stats. Here are some passages that stood out to me:
“David, like 85 percent of middle-class Americans polled in a 2012 survey, said it was more difficult to maintain living standards than it had been ten years earlier. A little more than six in ten middle-class families reported having had to cut back household spending. Today, it is both harder to get into the middle class and harder to stay there than at any time since World War II.” (p 93)
“Social Security provides widespread but not universal coverage; as of 2010, 14.4 percent of persons aged sixty-five or older were not receiving income from Social Security as they lacked sufficient paid and reported work histories to gain coverage.” (p 115)
“Whereas 62 percent of workers enrolled in a single retirement plan in 1983 had a defined benefit pension, by 2013, 71 percent of those enrolled in a single plan had defined contribution plans like 401 (k)s.” (p 117)
“Medicare pays 73 and 80 percent more, respectively, than Medicaid and the VA, which have more leeway in leveraging lower drug costs for larger purchases. This leads Medicare to pay approximately $16 billion more a year than if it could negotiate the same prices as Medicaid and the VA.” (p 152)
So you’ll get a lot of stuff in this book.
Like I said, it’s pretty short at 218 pages and I bet you’ll do what I did and skim through sections of it.
If you’re worried about the country and want some good examples to bring up in conversation, this is a good book for it.
The CEO Pay Machine: How It Trashes America and How to Stop It.
This book was written by Steven Clifford in 2017 and comes in at 232 pages…excluding notes and such.
Clifford was the CEO of King Broadcasting Company for 5 years and CEO of National Mobile Television for 9 years.
In addition to that he’s been the director of thirteen more companies.
Right away in this book you hear about CEO pay packages that he personally oversaw and had to get approval for from the board.
He began to question this, and if the bonus system was in fact motivating CEOs…or just wasting money.
He concludes it’s just wasting money.
He tells us that:
“According to the Economic Policy Institute, since 1978, CEO pay (inflation adjusted) has risen tenfold. “Over the same period, a typical worker’s wages grew from $48,000 in 1978 to just $53,200 in 2014, and increase of less than half of 1 percent per year.” (p 12)
“Between 1950 and 1970, total CEO bonuses ranged between 15 percent and 20 percent of compensation. Today, those proportions are reversed. Salary is typically a small portion of CEO compensation, normally 3 to 10 percent at larger companies. So-called performance bonuses account for more than 80 percent.” (p 87)
There’s a lot more in this book.
If you’re upset with how corporate America acts and rewards itself, this is a good read that you’ll like.
The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives.
This book was written by Lisa Servon in 2017 and comes in at 178 pages…excluding notes and acknowledgements.
Servon is a professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania. She was also once a dean at the New School.
What’s interesting about Servon’s approach is that she actually got a job as a teller at RiteCheck, which is a check cashing service in the South Bronx.
“Before working as a teller, I assumed that mainstream and alternative financial services were separate,” she writes in the introduction to the book. “I soon learned that the reality is much more complicated.”
And so the book begins its course, charting how the banks consolidated, began their aggressive marketing, and started giving credit to riskier groups.
For instance, we learn that:
“The payday lending industry has grown from “$10 billion in 2001 to nearly $30 billion in 2012.” (p xv)
“In 2014, Americans paid nearly $32 billion in overdraft fees, and $6 billion of it went to the three biggest banks (Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo).” (p 31)
“Since the 1970s, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio has increased from 30:1 in 1978 to 296:1 in 2013. In the same time period, CEO compensation has increased by 937 percent while worker compensation has increased by just over 10 percent.” (p 52)
“In 1983, only 43 percent of US households had a MasterCard, Visa, or other general-purpose credit card. By 1995 that number had risen to 66 percent. In 2005, credit card companies sent nearly six billion solicitations to consumers, or twenty solicitations for every man, woman and child in the United States.” (p 70)
Besides that, I like the stories in this book.
One is about a father that was so happy to take his young daughter to open her first savings account with $50.
“I had the idea that once a month we would go to the bank and make a deposit,” the father says. “Then we would watch the money grow, along with the interest.”
Instead they went back the next month and the $50 had turned into $45 due to a low-balance fee the bank charged.
“The little girl was crestfallen and the father was angry. He got the bank to return the five dollars and closed her account – and his own.”
I like Chapter 6: “Living in the Minus: The Millennial Perspective.”
- We learn that 42% of millennials think of the word “security” when they think of money, and 22% think of “stress.” (p 105)
- We discover that our “college debt load increased by 400 percent in the fifteen years between 1987 and 2002,” giving us $1.2 trillion of it today. (p 107)
- We realize that just 41% of millennials worked full-time in 2010, 24% working part-time, and that in 2014, 35% of millennials with a BA didn’t need that BA for the job they had, and also that 16% remained unemployed 6 months after graduating. (p 108)
- We learn that 70% of millennials think their parents had it “easier” and that 60% thought their parents had “better opportunities for building their careers.” (p 110)
As you can see, you’ll get a lot of information in this relatively short book.
Give it a look at your library the next time you’re there.
Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History.
This book was written by Bill Schutt in 2017 and comes in at 296 pages…excluding notes.
Schutt is a professor of biology at New York’s LIU Post and a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History.
This book caught my eye because of the frog eating another frog on the cover.
I picked it up and scanned through it and saw lots of biology stuff about animals and eating other animals.
You get that for about 85 pages, and then it takes you to the Neanderthals, Columbus, the Donner Party, the Siege of Leningrad, Pacific Island Cannibalism, and the same in China.
There’s a lot more, as you get tidbits here and there of other societies in different time periods.
I know this book won’t be appetizing to everyone, but for some it’s an interesting look into a bit of world history that we typically turn our noses up at.
The Truth About Your Future: The Money Guide You Need Now, Later, and Much Later.
This last one that we’ll profile today was written by Ric Edelman in 2017 and comes in at 275 pages…excluding the sources.
Edelman runs Edelman Financial Services, a firm that has 42 offices around the country and manages $18 billion for businesses and families.
In addition, he’s been ranked the nation’s #1 Independent Financial Advisor by Barron’s three times.
This book is great for skimming.
It has lots of charts and graphs and even newspaper cartoons. There are margin boxes that have text separate from the main chapter.
Mostly, you learn a lot in a very short amount of space.
Here are some of the chapters:
- Big Data
- Nanotechnology and Materials Science
- 3D Printing
- Innovations in Education
- The Future of Leisure and Recreation
- The Dark Side
There are 21 chapters in all. Here are some things that stood out to me:
- 95% of American teenagers have a mobile phone (p 4)
- 54% of 18-24 year-olds want to own a car and 46% want internet access (p 3)
- In 2015, 8 billion devices were connected to the internet, and by 2020 that’ll be 50 billion and by 2030 it’ll be 1 trillion (p 7)
- Microsoft figures that robotics will be a $37 billion industry by 2018, and currently we have 1.1 million robots working around the world (Amazon has 10,000) (p 27)
- “In 2007, a drone cost $100,000; today you can buy one for less than $500.” (p 31)
- Auto crashes cost the US $800 billion a year, or 2.2% of our nation’s GDP (p 33)
- In 2010 just 1 city was served by Uber. Today there are 507 (p 37)
- In 2007 a 3D printer cost $40,000 but in 2014 it was down to $150 (p 51)
- 3D printing revenue worldwide was $1.6 billion in 2015 and is expected to be $14.6 billion by 2019 (p 53)
- Workers in Brazil, France and Germany are required by law to take 30 vacation days a year (25 in the UK, Sweden and Italy and 22 in the Netherlands). Americans take an average of 11 vacation days a year, with no requirement that they do so (p 89)
- “According to Age Wave, 83% of working Americans regularly work while on vacation.” (p 89)
- “The average young person racks up more than 10,000 hours of gaming by the age of 21 – about the same amount of time spent in classrooms from middle school through high school.” (p 93)
As you can see, there’s a lot of information in this book.
I’m glad I picked it up, and I’ll be bringing it back soon.
Remember, in Montana you can put books on hold and other libraries will send them to you.
I regularly get stuff from the Flathead Library, for instance.
So please, stay informed and stay educated.