Under a Green Sky

Under a Green Sky,  Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us about Our Future by Peter D. Ward published in 2007. Climate varies in regular cycles of varying lengths. We live now at the end of a time of stability that is relatively rare. Humanity has flourished in a long period of the stability of what we consider to be normal climate, but in fact is very rare. Adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as we are will accelerate change and return us to a climate that varies markedly. In the future, coastlines will be different, crops will suffer, and many millions will die from starvation and/or war. I recommend this book.

The Hidden Wealth of Nations

The Hidden Wealth of Nations, The Scourge of Tax Havens by Gabriel Zucman published in 2015. Zucman is French and currently teaches at UC Berkeley. In this book, he describes how tax cheaters avoid taxation and he suggests a way for the taxing authorities of the world to collect what is properly and legally due. There are registers in major countries where securities are listed with their owners. If those registers are linked creating a global financial register, then tax avoidance would be much more difficult. The US registry is maintained by a private corporation, Depository Trust Company, at 55 Water Street, New York City.

Once a global register is created, tax avoidance will become much more difficult. An additional record of derivatives and other exotic financial instruments would be required for complete coverage of all financial transactions. Countries like Luxembourg that derive much national income from servicing tax cheats would see their revenues drop. The rest of world would gain from easier policing of tax revenues that would grow to fund necessary government services. Tax cheating would be a thing of the past.

Please see Tip of the iceberg? | The Panama papers

New York, 2140

New York, 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. One writer’s vision of the world in 2140 when the oceans have risen 50 feet. New York City is a new Venice while Venice, Italy, presumably is totally underwater. The Greenland icecap lasted longer than expected because the underlying geography is a bowl surrounded by mountains. On the other hand, Antarctica slopes down to the seas around it. Once the ice there started to move, it moved relatively rapidly. Rising seas forced millions to relocate inland if they could. Globalization was disrupted as the world’s harbors were rebuilt and then rebuilt again to service container ships and oil tankers.

Robinson extrapolates today’s financial cycles into the future and the rich are richer and the poor and displaced struggle to survive. Finally after a severe hurricane devastates lower New York, the poor declare a rent strike to topple the status quo. This time the Federal Reserve does not bail out the banks; it nationalizes them, putting the people in charge for a change.

The Intimidation Game

The Intimidation Game, How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech by Kimberley Strassel published in 2016. Most Americans get their news from TV and that is a shame. Too often on the tube, people of different viewpoints talk rapidly and at the same time so that viewers are hard pressed to understand what is being said. That is why I prefer to get my political opinions from books that I can read at my speed and dissect the arguments at my leisure.

Kimberley Strassel is a noted reporter for the Wall Street Journal, yet her argument for unrestricted money in politics is full of holes. Elections are often decided by who spends the most. That being the case, voters must know where the money is coming from. With dark money, we don’t know. I don’t have a problem with conservatives arguing their point of view. I do have a problem with lies and distortions to gain a victory at all costs.