Skin in the game


By N. Taleb.

If you want to be provoked, maybe even annoyed by something you have read, then this is a book to read.

Having said that, if an author has said they have written a standalone book, it makes no sense when one feels every few pages is a sales pitch for previous books of the same author. We are not trying to read all your books, just this one, so go slow on the sales pitch.

Taleb hates Hillary Clinton, Steven Pinker, Dawkins and many others. I wish he could treat this is a separate subject or give an explanation. I think Pinker is misleading us on his claims of us living in the most peaceful times. I am not interested in doing the hard work presently, though.

He is right that those who make policies should have some skin in the game. Think for example, the idiots who make pronouncements about our non existent public transport have a driver paid for by a tax payer. They never get inconvenienced by their stupid regulations. Had they been forced to use public transport, we would have better service. To this extent, and in many others, Taleb has a point. The adage that if someone’s pay is dependent on them solving a problem, they are unlikely to solve it, applies here.

As for his use of aphorisms, I don’t think he succeeded. This work sometimes appear disjointed, random and doesn’t flow so coherently.

He makes a good case for skepticism about GMO and further that sometimes there are simpler solutions to the problem that GMO proponents are trying to solve. Looking at the people dying of hunger in Baringo (where Moi who was president for 24 years hails) is evidence that the problem is infrastructure and political will. To solve the problem, one would need to improve access and plan for adverse weather. But when you have idiots and thieves in charge, you have people die from starvation. Well, they voted for the idiots, anyway. It’s a problem they have a hand in, too.

Have a good weekend everyone. Read a book, if you can. If you can’t, drink a beer, take a walk, make love! Do something, don’t just sit.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

8 thoughts on “Skin in the game

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    “sometimes there are simpler solutions to the problem that GMO proponents are trying to solve. Looking at the people dying of hunger in Baringo (where Moi who was president for 24 years hails) is evidence that the problem is infrastructure and political will. To solve the problem, one would need to improve access and plan for adverse weather. But when you have idiots and thieves in charge, you have people die from starvation. Well, they voted for the idiots, anyway. It’s a problem they have a hand in, too.” Succintly put, Mak. This sums things up in so many situations across the globe now, from the extreme misery of starvation as in Baringo to the slow war of attrition (actual and metaphorical) visited on millions of people by corporate oligarchies.

    It’s stating the obvious (?) but human NEEDS are actually very simple, basic human rights in fact, but somehow increasingly difficult to ensure – clean air and water, food security and access to markets, community support, informed civic participation, freedom from tyrrany, shelter, good health/healthcare, universal access to education, fair means to make a living, judicious use of natural resources, long-term planning by elected representatives.

    Instead, we have rule by powerful lobbyists and vested commercial and political interest, and that’s in our so-called ‘great democracies’ where the electorate is continuously lied to and hoodwinked. The law of catastrophic success rules – benefitting the few and bringing death and misery to the many in the corporately orchestrated war zones and disaster areas.

    There’s also the assumption that poverty is somehow the poor’s own fault, when too often it is actually a tool of political control, and one certainly used in Kenya when we lived there – e.g. the denial of basic infrastructure in deemed opposition areas. The irony about Kenya, too, is it hosts technocrats from across the world from the UN Environment Program downwards. It also has its own well qualified agricultural and environmental experts. The knowledge base on how to restore the environment, ensure food security and access markets and much more besides already exists there, and already tried and tested in countless, isolated low-tech, sustainable projects. In fact there is much the rest of the over-developed world could learn from Kenya in this regard. We need to wake up and get thinking and doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. renudepride says:

    Sometimes, those without having the experiences endured by others think themselves the utmost source of judging those experiences. Having written that, I’m off to enjoy my weekend. The same to you, my Kenyan brother! 😉 Naked hugs!

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  3. The more I sit, the bigger my ass gets. The bigger my ass gets, the easier it is to sit. It’s a vicious circle, I tell ya!

    I’ve repeatedly countered arguments asserting the relative prosperity of the world today with the notion that it is peoples’ perception that really matters. To a manufacturing worker who lost their job to automation or to globalization, and who sees the wealth gap between the very rich and everyone else grow to unprecedented proportions, the fact that most workers were even worse off 100 years ago is completely irrelevant. When the populace is really angry, big societal trouble is brewing.

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