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Old 06-19-2014, 08:31 AM   #2776
Jailblazers7
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Recently finished Cosmos by Sagan and it was everything I hoped it would be. Dude had a way with words.



Pretty eye opening book. Pretty much the dark underbelly of U.S. history with a convincing narrative woven throughout. He is careful not to overstate his opinion but I think it is an important book with how insane the intense the deification of the founding fathers has become. I'm only like 150 pages in but it is very good so far.

edit -

One of the main of the interesting ideas that is floated in the book is the idea of how the U.S. government was able to build a middle class voting coalition that was used to maintain stability during the early years of the government. The idea the Zinn presents is that the new nation was so rich in land and resources that they were able to distribute a small portion of it to the people to build a middle class of farmers and skilled workers. The amount of land and wealth taken from the Loyalists and Indianís was so vast that they could keep the majority and distribute a small amount to ameliorate the people. In the end, the country had enough middle class landowners to create a broad coalition whose interests were directly correlated with government stability. Zinn is careful to avoid accusing the government of nefarious plotting here but he claims that the situation was just a natural development of the wealth protecting their own interests.

The idea really gets interesting when the development of the U.S. and Russia are compared (this isnít in the book). The wealth gap was so extreme in early American history that there were many rebellions by slaves and poor whites. During many of the rebellion, calls for the equal distribution of land and food for everyone were popular. Sounds a lot like the development of Russian socialism. I think that Russia and the U.S. took separate developmental paths because of the compositions of their governments.
Russia had a top down monarchy that proved to be too rigid and out of touch to adapt to changing societal conditions. That were too slow to adapt to the wishes of the people and policy changes were too little, too late. In the end, violent uprising succeeded. However, the U.S. had the state government and a voting process that kept the government and the wealthy elite constantly in tune with the public sentiment. Public opinion was heard and adapted to but the elite still control government office because you had to own a certain amount of land/wealth to hold office in most states. Most states took active policy steps to ease tensions by forgiving debt, changes in the law, and giving Indian land to the people. This calmed rebellions and shifted the focus of public anger toward the Indian population who continued to fight at the frontier.

The principles of government coercion in America from then are still present today but they helped to protect the democracy and the capitalist system. Zinn highlights the mistreatment of millions at the hands of the U.S. government during its development but the ends might justify the means here. But then again, it is pretty easy for me to say that as a middle class, white male living in 2014.

But it is also very difficult to imagine how the development of the country would look better if the government didn't viciously mistreat people during its development. American culture would no doubt have benefited from an inclusion of native american culture and the agricultural/environmental landscape would be very different. The end of slavery with the introduction of the Bill of Rights would have saved countless lives and recovered billions in lost human potential. The book is really a precautionary tale for current generations about the power structures of government and their resiliency.

Finished reading this yesterday. Really good book and I would suggest it to anybody interested in US history because it really highlights events from a different perspective than traditional history texts. The events/facts come at you quickly and it becomes difficult to absorb all of them but the book does a very good job of contextualizing today's political environment with the development of the US.

It also lead me to some interesting thoughts on labor compensation and unionization. Economic theory hypothesizes that an individual is paid their marginal value in a perfectly competitive market but I'm starting to wonder if the sum of all individual wages are equal to the collective value of a workforce.
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:03 AM   #2777
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Finished reading this yesterday. Really good book and I would suggest it to anybody interested in US history because it really highlights events from a different perspective than traditional history texts. The events/facts come at you quickly and it becomes difficult to absorb all of them but the book does a very good job of contextualizing today's political environment with the development of the US.

It also lead me to some interesting thoughts on labor compensation and unionization. Economic theory hypothesizes that an individual is paid their marginal value in a perfectly competitive market but I'm starting to wonder if the sum of all individual wages are equal to the collective value of a workforce.

Brah, there is no perfectly competitive market, so neoclassical theories are pretty much off when applied to the real world.

About the bold, imo, they don't add up to be the same, the collective value of the workforce is defined by other variables like management and technological matrix used.
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:21 AM   #2778
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Default Re: What are you reading?

If you're going to read A People's History, you should also read A Patriot's History.

I've read both and I find it utterly fascinating how two scholars can make a single nation's history sound like two completely different countries with different histories.
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:25 AM   #2779
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A really depressing read. If you get what I mean..
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:10 AM   #2780
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Brah, there is no perfectly competitive market, so neoclassical theories are pretty much off when applied to the real world.

About the bold, imo, they don't add up to be the same, the collective value of the workforce is defined by other variables like management and technological matrix used.

Yeah, I know that neoclassical theory is pretty terrible in application but it was just a half baked idea that came to mind when reading the final chapter or so. Good point about mgmt and technology tho I hadn't considered those factors all that much yet. It was just a riff on "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" idea. Now that I think about it more I was essentially just thinking through how unionization helps correct for labor market inefficiencies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derka
If you're going to read A People's History, you should also read A Patriot's History.

I've read both and I find it utterly fascinating how two scholars can make a single nation's history sound like two completely different countries with different histories.

I will definitely put it on my list. Thanks for the recommendation. History is a very interesting subject because there can be no truly objective record. It is interesting too see how different historian interpret the same chain of events.

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Old 06-19-2014, 11:20 AM   #2781
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Yeah, I know that neoclassical theory is pretty terrible in application but it was just a half baked idea that came to mind when reading the final chapter or so. Good point about mgmt and technology tho I hadn't considered those factors all that much yet. It was just a riff on "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" idea. Now that I think about it more I was essentially just thinking through how unionization helps correct for labor market inefficiencies.

They also help create some inefficiencies.

Unions can be a boon to workers but sometimes when they are over aggressive they end up killing an entire industry like carmakers in the U.S and cost thousands of workers their jobs.

Not saying the unions were the reason why GM and Chrysler failed, but they had a big part in their lack of flexibility.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:21 PM   #2782
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Yeah, not trying to say unions are perfect or anything. It was more about tracing the history of labor to understand the impetus for unionization.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:42 PM   #2783
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Old 06-19-2014, 08:42 PM   #2784
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Old 07-20-2014, 11:54 PM   #2785
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Little Trouble In Tall Tree - 4/10
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Old 07-21-2014, 06:00 AM   #2786
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I've not finished yet but I like most of the short stories in it
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:31 AM   #2787
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Finished reading


Great start to the trophy can't wait to find it what's really going on reading book #2 the scorch trials now
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Old 07-21-2014, 12:58 PM   #2788
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About to start this today:

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Old 07-21-2014, 01:04 PM   #2789
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About to start this today:




Step dad said this was a good one.
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Old 07-21-2014, 01:22 PM   #2790
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Step dad said this was a good one.

Good to know!
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