Michael Lewis - The Fifth Risk

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Michael Lewis - The Fifth Risk

Post by Ricordanza » Tue Sep 01, 2020 10:39 am

Is it possible to write a fascinating book about the federal bureaucracy? (That is, fascinating to readers other than me—a 35-year veteran of the state bureaucracy.) Michael Lewis has done this, and more. The book paints a sad picture of the transition from the Obama to Trump administrations in three departments: Energy, Agriculture and Commerce. Actually, this could be described as a non-transition, since the Trump appointees had little interest and even less commitment to the actual work of these agencies. In this brief volume (just over 200 pages), Lewis vividly describes what can go wrong when an administration ignores the value of existing governmental programs. Many of these programs, he explains, are designed to manage risks. On page 25 of this 2018 book, he gives some examples: “Many of the risks that fell into the government’s lap felt so remote as to be unreal….[for example] that some airborne virus wiped out millions.”

Hmmm. Not so unreal.

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