So much for Ethical Altruism

“[Sam Bankman-Freid] held himself out as a philosopher king, a devotee to esoteric ethical precepts and a concerned billionaire who was committed to saving the world from ugly political currents; after the collapse, he confessed that this was all marketing nonsense (“this dumb game we woke westerners play”).”
— Cory Doctoroff

Books of 2021: Hillbilly Elegy

JD Vance’s book about his broken Appalachian family may be remembered as the last good and honest thing Vance ever did for his country. It is difficult today to separate the author of this book from the politician, but separate it we must.

Without claiming for the memoir any academic merit, nor confirming Vance’s implication that his family’s story was exemplary of white poverty, his book helped me see and understand the dire cycle into which poverty pulls its victims. I suspect I am not alone, and for that, the book deserves to be recognized and a renewed effort to address poverty in America at its uncomfortable roots begun.

Books of 2021: The Myth of Chinese Capitalism

It wasn’t that Tiff told me anything I didn’t already know. It is, rather, the way he lays all the facts out in a cogent argument that made me stop and think. Creating new terms and adding modifiers to frame China’s current economic system and business climate as “capitalism” was once a hopeful expression that China was somehow transitioning to something recognizably capitalist. Today it is clear that any concessions to capital were temporary and expedient, and that the Party has never strayed from its desire to build a centrally-controlled economy that can satisfy the material needs of the people while building national power and prestige.

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