Review: Skin in the Game – Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

6 Star Top 10%, America (Founders, Current Situation), Best Practices in Management, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Economics, Intelligence (Commercial), Misinformation & Propaganda, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb

6 Star – Skin in the Game = Ethics = Sustainable

By the author Black Swan and Anti-Fragility, among many other works, this book is a simplified overview — a capstone work — and the easiest to read.

Skin in the Game is defined by the author as symmetry of risk and reward — in other words, you don't get to externalize losses to others while reaping the rewards without any personal risk.

That pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with banking, commerce, government, religions, and universities.

He's also very good as defining “intelligent idiots” — which pretty much sums up all the politicians, media pundits, and anemic professors who have never gotten their hands dirty and are out of touch with ground truth — the dirt.

QUOTE (11): Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.

In the author's view (and I certainly concur) we have no choice but to decentralize — this includes down-sizing and localizing. In that way, we restore the efficacy of ethics as an operating system.

QUOTE (14): The same mechanism of transferring risk also impedes learning.

I have a note that the author makes a very strong case for the First Amendment as a vital foundation for tolerance and as the opposite of political correctness, the thought police, and what I call #GoogleGestapo — the criminal combination of media and payment platforms that have digitally assassinated thousands of conservative and progressive voices with impunity.

The author is trenchantly clear on globalism and universalism as a death knell for society — scaling kills — scaling is fragile.

Overall the early portion of the book provides an excellent indictment of intellectualism and scientism.

QUOTE (29): Specialization, as I will keep insisting, comes with side effects, one of which is separating labor from the fruits of labor.

I totally warm to the author's critique of the conventional educational system (one I define as a soft prison that dumbs down out future — in  this vein see John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction).

A third of the way through the book the author makes it clear that Skin in the Game is equivalent to Soul in the Game — he speaks of honor as an existential commitment, one that not only distinguishes between man and machine but also ranks humans.

The author is explicitly in favor of protectionism as a means of protecting both the indigenous culture and the indigenous economy. It protects and restores artesianship, honors indigenous manufacturers who have “skin in the game.”

QUOTE (39): …decentalization and fragmentation, aside from stabilizing the system, improves people's connection to their labor.

Chapter 2 is entitled “The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dominance of the Stubborn Minority.” This chapter can be read two ways: as an explanation of why the perverse left has turned  the USA into a shit-house of tolerance for bestiality and pedophilia as well as cheating and treason; or as a hopeful articulation of how conservatives might yet restore the Constitution and the Republic.

Chapter 3 is fascinating, about de facto slavery as embedded in the corrupt version of capitalism we tolerate today.

QUOTE (101): The best slave is someone you overpay and who knows it, terrified of losing his status.

I cannot help but think of the Deep State and the tens of thousands of enablers, some blackmailed, most bribed, who will lose their unearned status if and when we take the Deep State down as I believe we will.

It is not possible to do this book justice in a summary review, it must be read. A few notes that stand out:

Public service should not be a path to private sector profiteering.

Only the future can validate your life's work.

Competition destroys knowledge.

The easiest people to understand are the bullshitters.

West is over-intellectualized and under-emphathized.

There is an entire chapter on fake news and the failure of journalism, and an entire chapter on virtue but I must stress, this entire book is an ethical manifesto worthy of being read more than once.

QUOTE (195): So always keep in mind that historians and policy scholaristas are selected from a cohort of people who derive their knowledge from books, not real life and business.

Chapter 18 focuses on religion and risk management and suggests that superstitions are a form of heuristics — a means of passing from one generation to the next tacit knowledge.

Ralph Nader and Ron Paul are the first of many to be thanked in the acknowledgement at the end of the book.

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