Geography and natural resources are a starting point. How the population develops — including the degree to which it is educated, liberated, and empowered to innovate, matter. Deeper books along these lines include:
In the end it boils down to clarity, diversity, integrity, and sustainability. I am quite tired of pundits recycling old knowledge, a practice made poissible by an ignorant public (including ignorant policy makers and deeply unethical politicians as well as a captive media that is both ignorant and complicit).
2.0 out of 5 stars Mind-Numbing Waste of Time and Money,September 2, 2012
I am *stunned* that any Comptroller General would sign off on this. In my 33 year government career this is the densest most meaningless compilation of words (no pictures, no figures, no timelines, no lists) of gobbly-goop I have ever seen (of course there are a great many such products from other government agencies I have not seen). If I were the Comptroller General, not only would I not sign off on this, I would consider permanent exile for the entire team responsible for this. It fails to enlighten or communicate — it is more like a “cover your ass” document.
In theory, this book is about independence of audits and the professional management of audits. In fact, this is strung together text, all of it making sense in isolation, and none of it useful to actually doing a real audit meaningful to We the People. This is a classic example of doing the wrong thing righter (Russell Ackoff).
The more I read into this the sadder I got. I have known for a long time that GAO, CBO, and CRS are creatures of a very corrupt Congress, and that Congress actually reserves the right to tell them what their assumptions (code for outcomes) will be, but until I read this I did not realize how disconnected the whole process is. Now I have to emphasize that I value actual GAO reports and I would never consider doing an internal executive audit without consulting both GAO and OMB (which does not do management, but you can at least try to find someone who’s heard of the concept). What this book does is give me pause — if this is the GAO “foundation work” if causes me to wonder what else about GAO is so corrupt (in the holistic not making sense of the word).
This book is available free online at the GAO website. I bought it because it never occurred to me that GAO would produce something from the Stone Age, and for serious thinking, I have to have it in writing in front of me subject to annotation and hand-eye-brain coordination.
Here is the larger bottom line:
a) Congress authorizes and appropriates money based on corruption, personal, financial, and ideological — as long as Congress is getting its standard 5% kick-back, they will authorize and appropriate anything, from the bridge to nowhere to a stealth fighter that does not work as advertised, is unaffordable, and coated in toxins that kill the pilots stupid enough to fly something the USAF swears is safe.
b) GAO is only authorized to audit for compliance with the original corrupt authorization and appropriation. They are not authorized to blow the whistle on insane, unaffordable expenditures.
c) Within the Executive, taking NSA as a classic example, the focus is on keeping money moving and growing the pie because that is how the Executive creates more and more flag and senior executive positions, and that is how those flags and senior executives “pay forward” the reverse bribes that will get them follow-on careers with the contractors that will build any insane unafforable and generally inoperable (SAIC and Trailblazer come to mind) “capability” that Congress has authorized and appropriated.
d) When NSA is inspected from within the Executive, the focus is NOT on the why, on the cost, on the “fit” with any given strategy or other related programs, but on the allocation authority and whether NSA is spending the money as directed, never mind whether it works or not. This is one reason why I believe that both Inspectors General and Operational Test & Evaluation should be part of the Intelligence Directorate of any given Cabinet office, just as I believe that education, intelligence, and research must be asuthorized, appropriated, allocated, constructed, and evaluated as a whole.
It is with a grimace that I prepare to donate this book to the Oakton VA library. It is a perfect example of corrupt perfection. Argh.
Robert David Steele
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability
Price for 160 Pages Beneath Contempt,November 16, 2011
I am angry–I really wanted to buy and read this book, but a price of $50 for 160 pages is beneath contempt. The author is being abused by the publisher and I urge the author to consider a new publisher for the paperback, or demanding that the paperback be published immediately. Barnes and Noble has been shut down by Amazon — all other publishers appear in intent on staving off their ultimate demise in the face of on demand publishing by gouging the public.
This book in hardcopy should not be sold for more than $25, and in paperback for $16. Please join me in boycotting this publisher, as someone who cares deeply about the dissemination of important knowledge — which the author clearly offers — I find this pricing an utter outrage.
2.0 out of 5 stars Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It), February 12, 2008
The book is extremely well-written, and a joy to read. It would be highly recommended, except for two fatal flaws discussed below.
Poundstone’s latest book deals with an issue that is fundamental to democracy, yet almost totally ignored in the U.S. While many books focus on the role of money in elections, or voter registration, or voting machine integrity, relatively few popularly written books have tackled the more fundamental question of how votes get translated into representation. This is not a question of voting machine technology, but of logic. Most Americans are remarkably unaware of the variety of voting methods available, nor of the fact that the plurality voting method that predominates in the U.S. is not the norm among modern democracies, and, in fact, is probably the most problematic of all voting methods.
As a matter of fact it is a bad book in the most general meaning of the word. First of all, it does not deliver what it promises to deliver and thus misleads the buyer. It claims that it is going to provide a `framework’ for an innovative organization, but instead turns out to be a most general blah blah on every subject in the area of `management’. Apart from an abundant use of the word `innovation’, there is hardly anything related to the core of innovation process in this book.
If you like, let me summarise what they say:
1. The book starts with an expose of the CHANGES in the world economy, globalization etc. The usual stuff you would expect to find in any `wake-up call’ book these days. But is there anyone left who is not aware of the big changes going on around us? Do we need another book warning us that business is no longer usual?
2. The book then goes on outlining their `framework’ for innovation. This is called the `five disciplines’. Disciplines indeed! And such `novel’ ones. Let’s look at them, if you like.
Outrageously Priced, Rotten Provision of Information, April 16, 2010
Luis de Sousa, Barry Hindess, Peter Larmour
This is probably a very important book, but it will never be bought by most because it is outrageously priced (272 pages, this should be selling for $27.20 at most), and the publisher has been grievously irresponsible in failing to use the free Amazon tools to provide a sufficiency of information. The authors and the content are without question superb. How this book has been offered is itself a study in corruption.
This book should be selling for no more than $39.95. I’d like to buy it, but not at this price. As a publisher I can tell you it costs a penny a page to publish a book like this. I am adding this book to my list of books I would buy and review if they were more reasonably priced.