All The Books I Read In 2024

Some notes and quotes from the books I have read this year:

  • Seeking social democracy : seven decades in the fight for equality

  • Unmasking AI

  • Paved Paradise

  • Gigs, Hustles, & Temps

    • “The difference from the private sector is, of course, derided by neo-liberal adherents who argue that it drives up taxes and creates ‘fat-chat’ bureaucrats. In response, I argue that neo-liberals are creating a false narrative designed to pit private sector workers (who pay taxes) against public sector workers (who also pay taxes) to denigrate the role of the public sectors. This false narrative leads the public to believe that public sector workers should suffer the same working conditions as those in the private sector, driving everyone’s working conditions down. In contrast, expecting government to lead by example aspires to pull everyone up.”
    • “Neo-liberal adherents of precarious work are wrong because they exclude the human dimension from their narratives. When only looking at money, the case for precarious employment is obvious, at least from an employer’s perspective. Neo-liberals also believe that humans are innately selfish and rationally work to maximize their self-interests. Hence, they assume a worker in a precarious position will work harder in order to improve their situation. When looking at things in that way, turning to precarious work is a no-brainer. However, real humans have something to say about that. Turns out they are not so enamoured at the idea of others profiting from their precarity. They resent being treated as numbers on a spreadsheet and thus behave in ways that contradict the neo-liberal vision of economic growth. The world is much more complicated than neo-liberal economists think.”
  • Recoding America

    • “Government’s obsession with requirements - voluminous details requirements that can take so long to compile the software is obsolete before it’s even bid out - stems from a delusion that it’s possible to make a work plan so specific that it requires no further decision-making. You hand it off and the developers just do exactly that they’re told. Why not let those developers choose the best tool or platform for the job? In part, because they sit at the bottom of the waterfall.”
    • “The technology needs to be your product. It can’t just be a project that was contracted for, developed, tested, and declared ‘done.’ You need to own the code, and you need to be able to change it to meet your needs. This doesn’t mean that you can’t user contractors at all - in government, you will almost certainly use them. It means that you must have the core competencies to support a living, ever-adapting system. Government knows how to acquire technology. What we need to acquire are capabilities.”
    • “The next time you’re struggling with a government form or process that makes you feel like some nameless, faceless bureaucrat is trying to torture you, remember that no one public servant has that power. That form or process was the result of committees, comment periods, and countless opportunities to object, influence, overturn, and relitigate. If someone had been given the power to understand your needs and make decisions in your interest, you might be having a very different experience. But our fear of concentrated power has that that incredibly difficult. In our attempts to keep government small, it’s not the disease that has hurt us, it’s the cure.”
    • “The best solution of all would be to hold public servants accountable to outcomes over process. … We must find ways to trust people in government to make smart tradeoffs in the service of meeting people’s needs. They must be able to decide what to do, not just churn through endless checklists handed down from above. They must be empowered to make government make sense to a person.”

See also