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The Fifth Risk

par Michael Lewis

Autres auteurs: Voir la section autres auteur(e)s.

MembresCritiquesPopularitéÉvaluation moyenneMentions
1,4247612,753 (3.96)32
"What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works? 'The election happened,' remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. 'And then there was radio silence.' Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them. Michael Lewis's brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it's not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do. Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gain without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing the cost. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it's better never to really understand those problems. There is an upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview. If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes--unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system: those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night."--Dust jacket.… (plus d'informations)
  1. 20
    The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule par Thomas Frank (M_Clark)
    M_Clark: Although this book stops in 2008, the techniques it describes that conservatives use to wreck US government agencies helps explain the techniques being used by the Trump administration as well.
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Fascinating glimpse into what some of our federal agencies do, as well as a sobering reminder of the consequences of a presidential administration that has little concept how the government runs and what its functions are and appointing unqualified people to run the agencies. I would love to see Mr. Lewis do a follow up now, comparing the people currently running the same programs and departments, to see if there are actually improvements. Mr. Lewis's writing is, as always, engaging, making the complex manageable. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
This is the one book Donald Trump ought to read. And I’m not kidding. Most of the writing on the Trump presidency focuses on the chaos of the White House. This book looks at the bureaucracy affected by the actions and — more often than not — inaction at the top which threatens longstanding projects of the American people. Nuclear waste. Weather forecasting. Etc.

It also raises major conflicts of interest between Trump appointees and govt services that I hadn’t heard about yet.

Lewis wraps his story with the point of view that govt manages a series of natural, technological, and societal risks. Sometimes it manages them well, many it is still learning how to manage at all.

And this reveals a serious weakness in the American electoral system: that life is so complex these days that the voters have little understanding of what they have bargained for. That votes cast for party affiliation are based on the inertia in the system and not on the dynamic environment of governing today.

Earlier books have well pointed out that business is not interested in doing some things assigned to govt today, and that business often builds off the accomplishments of govt.

In some situations big business does succeed where govt lags behind.

But as I have said in earlier essays, govt is only the collective will and imagination of the people on a grander scale than barnraisings and church dinners.

Paranoia about the American govt is mostly overstated. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
3.5 stars. Well researched but not as compelling as some of his other works. ( )
  devilhoo | Jan 3, 2024 |
This book, written with Lewis's usual good storytelling style, is horrifying.
It lays out the criminality of Trump's approach to the transition to his Presidency.

Even though I didn't great around to reading until after Trump was cast from office, the book still will stand as a cautionary tale for future generations (and even this one) about how our votes count, or not.

( )
  jjbinkc | Aug 27, 2023 |
A brief look into oft-overlooked aspects of our government -a great conversation-starter for those interested in what governing is, what it looks like, and what government should be. While there were certain times that the author allowed his own bias to taint his words, the illumination given within the text far outweighs his few indiscretions.

One larger concern I did have - no formal conclusion to wrap up the main threads of the work. His last paragraph did serve as a succinct end; I just wish there was a bit more to tie it up.

A quick read to spur your interest further. Recommended for those interested in U.S. government, bureaucracy, or the presidential transition of 2016. ( )
  alrajul | Jun 1, 2023 |
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Nom de l'auteurRôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Michael Lewisauteur principaltoutes les éditionscalculé
Bevine, VictorNarrateurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Chris Welch DesignConcepteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Garceau, PeteCover designer and artistauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
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Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump

Real organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!

9:55 pm – 15 Nov 2016
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The relationship between the people and their government troubled her (Kathy Sullivan, head of NOAA). The government was the mission of an entire society: why was the society undermining it? "I'm routinely appalled by how profoundly ignorant even highly educated people are when it comes to the structure and function of our government," she said. "The sense of identity as Citizen has been replaced by Consumer. The idea that government should serve the citizens like a waiter or concierge, rather than in a 'collective good' sense."
There is another way to think of John MacWilliams' fifth risk: the risk a society runs when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions. […] “Program Management” is the existential risk that you never really even imagine as a risk. (Chapter I: “Tail Risk,” p. 75 (Norton, 2018))
Thousands of people inside the Federal government had spent the better part of a year drawing a vivid picture of it for the benefit of the new administration. The United States government might be the most complicated on the face of the earth. Its two million federal employees take orders from four thousand political appointees. Dysfunction is baked into the structure of the thing: the subordinates know their bosses will be replaced every four to eight years. And that the direction of their enterprises might change overnight – with an election, or a war, or some other political event. (Chapter I: “Tail Risk,” p. 37 (Norton, 2018))
The 2020 national census will be a massive undertaking for which there is not a moment to lose, and yet there's no Trump appointee in place to run it. “The actual government has not really taken over,” said Max Stier. “It's kindergarten soccer. Everyone is on the ball. No one is at their positions. But I doubt Trump sees the reality. Everywhere he goes, everything is going to be hunky-dory and nice. No-one gives him the bad news.” (Chapter I: “Tail Risk,” p. 46 (Norton, 2018))
The third department [Rick] Perry wanted to get rid of, he later recalled, was the Department of Energy. In his confirmation hearings to run the department, Perry confessed that when he called for its elimination, he hadn't actually known what the Department of Energy did – and he now regretted saying that it didn't do anything worth doing. (Chapter I: “Tail Risk,” p. 47 (Norton, 2018))
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"What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works? 'The election happened,' remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. 'And then there was radio silence.' Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them. Michael Lewis's brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it's not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do. Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gain without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing the cost. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it's better never to really understand those problems. There is an upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview. If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes--unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system: those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night."--Dust jacket.

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