Book Bits: Facebook, WeWork, Governing The Internet

● The Financial System Limit: The World’s Real Debt Burden
David Kauders
Summary via publisher (Sparkling Books)
Why were economies sluggish before the pandemic arrived? Why have interest rates paid by businesses and households been rising even though deposit rates are nil? Does the policy of bailing out economies, now followed by most governments and central banks, bring any dangers? In The Financial System Limit, British investment manager David Kauders FRSA puts forward three radical theories which together provide the answers to these questions. These theories show that Keynesian economics has gradually turned from a benefit to society, into a damaging scheme. Other economic policies are also not addressing the fundamental problem, which is the world’s inability to afford private sector debts already created.

● The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World
Adrian Wooldridge
Review via The Wall Street Journal
In 1958, the British sociologist Michael Young published “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” a fictional narrative that imagined a world where leaders in business and government would be chosen on the basis of talent and effort rather than social status, wealth or power. But the book, which brought the word “meritocracy” into the English language, wasn’t written to celebrate such a world. To the contrary, it was intended as a warning that those who fell behind in the competition to get ahead were likely to resent the new elite and would eventually rebel.
As Adrian Wooldridge notes in “The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World,” Young predicted that the rebellion would occur in 2034. But in the U.S. and Britain, it seems to have already begun.

● An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination
Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang
Interview with authors via NPR
A new book investigates Facebook’s failure to protect against spreading hate speech, disinformation, conspiracy theories and calls to violence. The book also shows how Facebook became an advertising company, monetizing its users and their data. The book is called “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle For Domination.” My guests are the authors, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang, who are reporters for The New York Times. Frenkel covers cybersecurity and is based in San Francisco and covers technology and regulatory policy and is based in Washington, D.C.

● The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion
Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
Review via Publishers Weekly
Wall Street Journal reporters Brown and Farrell trace the rise and fall of WeWork in this drama-filled debut, a cautionary tale of startup excess. Brown and Farrell follow charming, ambitious, and reckless founder and CEO Adam Neumann from his start as a baby clothes salesman in 2006 to the head of a unicorn startup that carried a market value of tens of billions of dollars. WeWork’s early success stoked unheard-of investments, but increasing ambitions and a lack of focus (including the goal to overhaul the world’s education system) drove such erratic corporate behavior as acquiring a wave pool maker in hopes of enhancing WeWork communities.

● American Marxism
Mark R. Levin
Summary via publisher (Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster)
In American Marxism, Levin explains how the core elements of Marxist ideology are now pervasive in American society and culture—from our schools, the press, and corporations, to Hollywood, the Democratic Party, and the Biden presidency—and how it is often cloaked in deceptive labels like “progressivism,” “democratic socialism,” “social activism,” and more.

● Four Internets: Data, Geopolitics, and the Governance of Cyberspace
Kieron O’Hara, et al.
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
The Internet has become a staple of modern civilized life, now as vital a utility as electricity. But despite its growing influence, the Internet isn’t as stable as it might seem; rather, it can be best thought of as a network of networks reliant on developing technical and social measures to function, including hardware, software, standards, and protocols. As millions of new internet users sign on each year, governing bodies need to balance evolving social ideas surrounding internet use against shifting political pressures on internet governance–or risk disconnection.

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Disclosures: None.

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