40% of high school graduates didn’t read a book last year, while just 13% of college graduates didn’t.
If you’re making less than $30,000 a year then there’s a 30% chance you didn’t read a book last year, compared to the 17% that made that much or more who did read a book.
29% of Americans 50 or older don’t read books, while 23% of adults under 50 don’t read books.
19% of Americans haven’t visited a library in a year or more.
These numbers are sad.
And my own reading habits this year have been sad too.
I mean…wow, it’s been awhile since our last good books post!
Mid-October to be exact.
Guess I haven’t been reading as much…though I got back on the wagon early this month.
It’s why I have several books that I found enjoyable and that I think you might like as well.
Most deal with income inequality issues. Let’s begin.
Lincoln on Leadership for Today: Abraham Lincoln’s Approach to 21st-Century Issues.
The book was written by Donald T. Phillips in 2017 and comes in at 280 pages…excluding notes.
I saw it at the library and thought, “Well, that’s kind of silly but interesting at the same time. I wonder what this guy has to say.”
So I picked it up, skimmed through it, read a bit, and decided to check it out.
One of the chapters I really liked was Chapter 10: No Less Than National.
It talks about cabinet picks and leadership and the war effort.
Yeah, I particularly liked the things that Ol’ Abe did in the Civil War.
For instance, we had the Veterans Pension Act come through in July 1862.
The War Department would now take care of those it sent to war, and that wound up costing the federal government half its federal budget for a time during the war.
An interesting note is that the War Department stopped overseeing veterans in 1921 when the Veterans Bureau was created, and they stopped in 1930 when the VA was created. The VA in turn became a cabinet-level agency in 1989.
“Of course, while the president was pursuing his legislative agenda, anti-Lincoln Republican radicals and opponents in the Democratic Party fought him at every turn. But being the pragmatic politician he was, Lincoln expected it, handled it, and didn’t let it bother him. Essentially, he unwaveringly maintained his agenda, cooperated with those who supported him, and simply ‘plowed around’ those who did not.” (p 152)
Phillips could contrast this to the modern-day VA and their problems, but chooses not to.
Another chapter I liked was Chapter 12: The Thunderbolt, and particularly the last section that looks at what Lincoln would do today.
“Recall that it was more than a decade from the time Abraham Lincoln started fighting slavery in 1854 to the time he actually ended it (with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865).
If Lincoln were here today, he would advise our leaders to set out a long-range plan to achieve their major goals; focus on achieving each individual step along the way; wait for the timing to be right – and then seize the moment when it is.” (p 190-1)
Now, I have to mention that the first iteration of this book came out in 1993, this is just an updated version that added a few pages here and there.
Good way to earn a few more dollars from an old book.
The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic.
This book was written by Ganesh Sitaraman in 2017 and comes in at 305 pages…excluding notes.
Sitaraman is a law professor at Vanderbilt and served as an adviser to Elizabeth Warren for a time.
At first I thought this book wouldn’t be that interesting to me, mainly because it looks back at the founding of the country and moves forward.
In fact, it goes into colonial times and even back to ancient Greece.
But I found myself getting into that ancient Greece stuff, with talk of Polybius proving quite interesting.
The stuff on Machiavelli was also insightful.
“Many people these days think of Machiavelli as an amoral political operator, and his name is synonymous with political intrigue and backstabbing…But in an important sense, he was also part of a long political tradition on how to create political stability in a divided society. He was deeply concerned with the problem of economic inequality, and he supported constitutional structures to prevent inequality from spilling over into conflict.” (p 49)
It’s only when you get up to Part III – starting on page 220 – that you get up into the 1970s and even a bit into today’s times.
There are bits before that, however, like this one that caught my eye:
“America of 1774 was surprisingly egalitarian. Considering all households, including slaves, the top 1 percent in America had 8.5 percent of total income. When only free households are taken into account, the number drops to 7.6 percent. In 2012, for comparison, the top 1 percent of Americans took 19.3 percent of total income. In fact, you have to go back to 1973 to find a recent number – 7.7 percent – even in the range of free 1774 America.” (p 62)
You’ll get lots of stats and such, and that’s worthwhile.
Here are some things that stood out to me:
“In fact, 56 percent of all disclosed spending on lobbying in 2012 came from just 3,587 corporations. If we add trade associations and business-wide associations, the number jumps to 78 percent of all lobbying money. Between 1998 and 2010, corporations increased spending on lobbyists by 85 percent (to $2.09 billion) while trade associations increased spending by 53 percent (to $590 million).” (p 251)
“Between 1970 and 2000, the number of think tanks jumped from seventy to more than three hundred.” (p 252)
“According to data from the Tax Policy Center, only about 3,800 estates in the entire country – which amounts to 0.14 percent or one in every seven hundred people who die – pay any estate tax at all. In 1976, by comparison, 139,115 estates paid the tax (which was 7.65 percent of deaths).” (p 256)
“During the 2011-12 cycle of state supreme court elections, political parties and interest groups spent $24.1 million on advertising supporting or attacking judges – more than twice the amount spend in the 2010 cycle and almost ten times more than they spent in 2001-02.” (p 270)
“The defining feature of the 2016 election was the strength of anti-establishment candidates who channeled popular discontent with elites and with the current functioning of American politics.” (p 271)
“On Election Day, a Reuters poll found that 72 percent of voters believed ‘the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.’” (p 272)
I think this is a very good book that you’ll learn a lot from. Give it a look at your local library next time you’re there.
DC Confidential: Inside the Five Tricks of Washington.
This book was written by David Schoenbrod in 2017 and comes in at 170 pages…excluding notes.
Schoenbrod led the Natural Resources Defense Council in the 1970s. You’ll also get a forward from Howard Dean and another from current senator Mike Lee of Utah.
So what are these five tricks?
We’re told this on page 3:
- The Money Trick
- The Debt Guarantee Trick
- The Federal Mandate Trick
- The Regulation Trick
- The War Trick
Let me give you an example of a couple of these.
“The Money Trick lets current members of Congress get the credit for gratifying the public’s demand for tax cuts, benefit increases, and other spending increases, while shifting the blame for the inevitable tax increases and benefit cuts to their successors in office when the long-term fiscal consequences of these actions require painful adjustments. As a result, Congress has set a course that, unless changed soon, will require draconian tax increases and spending cuts across the entire population.
The Federal Mandate Trick lets members of Congress get the credit for the benefits they require the state and local governments to deliver, while shifting the blame for the burdens necessary to deliver those benefits to state and local officials. As a result, Congress mandates benefits without considering whether they are worth the burdens they place on us.” (p 3-4)
What’s cool is that this book gives us a lot of insightful information.
Some of the chapters are called “How Congress is Supposed to Work – And Long Did,” “The Left and Right Agree on One Thing: Congress Misrepresents,” and “An Action Plan for Us.”
I’d tell you more, but I actually just picked this one up from the library yesterday and I’m not that far into it.
I hope you’ll give it a look – we need more people realizing what’s really going on in the District of Criminals.
American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus.
This book was written by Lisa Wade, came out in 2017, and comes to about 250 pages…excluding notes.
Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College in LA.
I feel this is a good book for university administrators to read. It’s a good one for parents and students to read too.
And boy…it’s pretty rough.
Here are some stats from the first few pages:
- 50% of first-year students “express concern that they are not emotionally healthy.”
- 33% of students say “their intimate relationships have been ‘traumatic’ or ‘very difficult to handle.’
- 10% of first-year students “frequently feel depressed.”
- 10% of students say they’ve been “sexually coerced or assaulted in the past year.”
- “Students are less happy and healthy than in previous generations,” Wade concludes, “less so even than just ten or twenty years ago.”
Pretty eye-opening numbers.
Now, let’s get to what students themselves are saying:
“The goal is to look ‘fuckable,’ Miranda said.”
“You don’t walk into a party without a couple shots of vodka.”
“The first step in hooking up is to get shitfaced.”
“Destiny emphasized how alcohol made her feel carefree three times in as many sentences.”
“Men who painted the word ‘pussy’ on a known non-drinker’s car.”
“Sure, it’s not a social tragedy to hook up with an average-looking guy. But hooking up with someone attractive is a social asset for sure. It raises your standing in the hierarchy of potential partners. It makes you more attractive.”
“In our room, sex is a commodity, which, like gold, increases a man’s social status, especially if he ‘scores’ or ‘pounds’ an especially blonde girl. Blonde is hot.”
“Frat stars and athletes – those are the only ones that matter. I mean, honestly.”
‘“I know I’m going to be really drunk,” said a female student to a friend, “so you need to stop me if you see me hooking up with someone who isn’t cute.”’
“Perhaps that’s part of what makes hookup cultures so gripping for some students: there’s always the possibility that they’ll hook up with someone above their social station and always the risk of hooking up with someone below it. Social mobility is real, and that’s both exciting and scary.”
This is quite a gripping book that I’m sure you’ll get into.
Why not hook up with it at your local library some night?
The Sale of a Lifetime: How the Great Bubble Burst of 2017-2019 Can Make You Rich.
The book was written by Harry S. Dent, Jr., came out in 2016, and comes in at 345 pages.
There are no notes in this book, as the notes are presented in each chapter.
Mostly, these come in the form of graphs.
Boy, do you get graphs in this book! I’d say there are 250 or more.
They sure don’t paint a pretty picture, either.
Dent is a Harvard MBA, but he’s written books like this before and oftentimes his dire predictions don’t come to pass.
Despite that, for those that feel the American economy isn’t quite as straight as it makes itself out to be, this is the book for you.
I got it on an inter-library loan from the Flathead, so I know you can get it too.
In fact, all of the books you’ve just read about came from the library.
There’s no excuse not to read them, or better yet, find the books that speak to you.
So please, take a trip to your library this week…if you don’t do so already.
I go damn-near everyday, myself.
Reading is important.
Let’s act like it.