Being an elected representative carries a tremendous responsibility. Decisions made by representatives while in office impact their current constituents, but will also influence future ones as well, often times long after they have left office.
Because of this legacy effect, and the reality of unintended consequences, it is, and should be, imperative that public servants learn all that they can about the critical issues facing those they are elected to represent. Sadly, the commentary and actions from the local, state, and national policians tells me this is not happening. As such, I’ve prepared a short list of books that should be read as a primer for those entering public service, as well as those already serving.
While I’m at it, I may as well include everyone that is represented by elected officials too. It’s difficult to engage in meaningful debate when most citizens understanding of their civic duty is limited to sound bites from television and radio personalities.
Bank loan or floating rates bonds are unique among bond types in that the rate is not fixed, but is free to move in relation to an underlying base rate such as the LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate). As with any investment there are risks and bank loans are no exception. With the prospect of rising interest rates looming over our economy, everything from bonds to houses will be impacted so I’m constantly looking for ways to benefit from that environment.
Author and speaker James Howard Kunstler is perhaps the most outspoken critic of suburban sprawl and alternative energy as a replacement for cheap oil. In a pair of TED talks in 2004 and 2010 he shares his perspective and explains how our we lost our “places.” (a word of caution: Kunstler uses colorful language at times)
For a deeper dive into how we got to where we are and some thoughts on where we might be going Kunstler also wrote a few books worth reading:
Luis von Ahnm created Captcha to suppress spam on the internet and launched reCaptcha when he realized the potential of massive online collaboration to help digitize books. Now he’s doing the same for language learning and translation with DuoLingo.
An insightful talk by Professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, Sugata Mitra on the legacy and shortcomings of an empire driven educational system and how his “hole in the wall” experiments compelled him to develop a new method of education.
It’s quite fashionable to say that the educational system is broken. It’s not broken. It’s wonderfully constructed. It’s just that we don’t need it anymore.
Is a self sufficient local economy really possible? It’s the question that led to the publishing of Lyle Estill’s 2008 book, Small is Possible; Life In a Local Economy.
I found it to be an easy but insightful read into the politics, struggles, and rewards of a group of North Carolina residents trying to live local. The book is divided into two parts with the first, “Funky Town” providing some background and context to the authors experiences and beliefs. The second part, titled “Homegrown” is Estill’s practical explanation and examples of how they’ve done it, or would.
It is this section of the book that I found most helpful in starting to think of ways to not only live and purchase locally, but it shows how one might begin to think about the types of businesses (and investments) that would be necessary for a community to replace it’s dependence on imported goods and services.
At 216 pages, with 16 chapters the material is easily digestible and well worth the time…even if you (like me) don’t agree with all of the author’s ideas.