Ranking the 29 best books I read in 2016

2016 was a bizarre year. Donald Trump won the Presidential election. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Uber grew its revenue and still lost $3 billion. It’s been 1,000 days since a major American suburb has poisonous water–and nothing has been done. General Electric re-made itself–again. A 74-year-old socialist almost won a major party’s Presidential nomination. The long-awaited digital… Continue reading

Classic Read: How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul

Matt Stoller’s How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul is the best political analysis I’ve read all year. It offers a solid argument to how economic populism fell out of the national narrative—and accelerated the decline of the American middle class. It’s hard to believe today, but seventy years ago Bernie Sander’s ideas were fairly common… Continue reading

Peter Drucker on Business School

Peter Drucker more or less invented management consulting. Here he is talking about the role of business school in American society. Business schools no longer see themselves as social instruments. They want to be ‘respectable’, as say mathematics departments are respectable. But this is wrong. Professional schools are not intellectual institutions but social institutions. Old-timers… Continue reading

Book Review: Dawn of Innovation by Charles Morris

In Dawn of Innovation Charles Morris argues that America’s economic dominance wasn’t driven by science, technology or ingenuity, but our commitment to mass production (scale). “The dominating American characteristic across all major industries,” he writes, “was the push for scale—adapting the production methods, the use of machinery, and the distribution to suit the product.” Viewing… Continue reading

The perils of privatizing public goods

In September 1987, nearly a year before Tracy Chapman sang about revolution, President Ronald Reagan started one in American policy—he started privatizing America’s public goods. The revolution didn’t happen overnight. In fact, most people didn’t even realize it occurred. As these two fantastic articles reveal, nearly thirty years later we’re dealing with the damaging consequences—economically,… Continue reading

Jon Gerner’s The Idea Factory

Bell Labs, the world’s most innovative organization in history, had a simple view on innovation. Whatever improvement came out of their Murray Hill headquarters had to do the job “better, or cheaper, or both” than its predecessor. In thirty years, this philosophy allowed the company to develop semiconductors, lasers, fiber optics, solar panels, the Unix operating… Continue reading