The Fifth Risk Book Review

The Fifth Risk Book Review

A Different Take on the Government

Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, The Big Shortand Moneyball, delves into the workings of government bureaucracy in his new book, The Fifth Risk. Lewis manages to remove political ideology from his narrative, instead focusing on the work performed by civil servants within the Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Energy (DOE), NASA, and other government institutions. I will readily admit that I’m unconvinced about the importance of the government, though Lewis manages to persuade even his most skeptical readers of the value we derive from government investments and programs.

Roughly seventy percent of the US government’s employees are in some way responsible for the safety and security of the American people. Lewis hones in on the DOE’s job of maintaining and protecting our nuclear weapons. Moreover, the DOE works to prevent terrorists from developing their own nuclear arsenals. Lewis suggests that it’s of critical importance to properly understand, staff, and manage these government projects, otherwise we increase the likelihood of large scale disasters. The titular risk Lewis wants us to consider to better prevent such disasters is that of project management.

Why the DOE is So Important

United States government investments in nuclear weapons during the Cold War enabled our country to amass an inventory of thousands of nuclear warheads. This nuclear stockpile, though, came at a price. Two-thirds of the plutonium used in the United States’ nuclear weapons was created at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington State. With Cold War tensions cooling, the government allowed the reactors to cool as well. Though the war has ended and the reactors have been decommissioned, it will take Hanford at least “a century and a hundred billion dollars” to clear away the nuclear waste.

Nuclear cleanup projects like the one in Hanford only account for some of the DOE’s portfolio of responsibilities. Lewis interviewed Tarak Shah, the former Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Science and Energy at the Department of Energy, about a terrorist attack carried out against our energy grid.

“Late one night, just southeast of San Jose, at Pacific Gas and Electric’s Metcalf substation, a well-informed sniper, using a .30-caliber rifle, had taken out seventeen transformers. Someone had also cut the cables that enabled communication to and from the substation… ‘We actually don’t have a transformer reserve… Our electric-grid assets are growing vulnerable.'” (66)

Forty percent of our hydroelectric power comes from the grid mentioned above. Investments in its continued protection are incredibly important as we grow increasingly reliant on electrical power.

Dismantling Our Core Institutions

In examining the operations of various government departments, Lewis shows his readers that many civil servants have gone unrecognized while protecting us from the threats of natural and man-made disasters. They’ve funded technological developments that have served as the backbones of many of our biggest industries. How about the weather reports we take for granted (and sometimes ignore?) These are the results of sustained government research projects and investments in improved technology.  Lewis makes it clear that the criticism and outright effort to privatize much of the government is a recipe for devastating consequences.

Barry Myers is the CEO of AccuWeather, a company that packages up the government’s weather reports and sells them for profit. The presidential administration picked Myers to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Lewis warns that Myers has a financial incentive to prevent the government’s distribution of weather information. Only paying customers of AccuWeather will receive weather forecasts or warnings. This withholding of information will cost lives, especially as catastrophic weather events are a more common occurrence.

I recommend The Fifth Risk to government supporters and skeptics alike. Lewis, known for unravelling difficult subject matter and eloquently explaining it, offers a convincing argument for the continued funding of our government and its many projects. Whether you agree or disagree, please share your opinion in the comment section, or contact me directly.

The Fifth Risk Book ReviewThe Fifth Risk Book Review


Preparation for The Event

Preparation for The Event

Preparation is Necessary

The world has become more unstable than it ever has before. The Doomsday Clock is now two minutes to midnight due to the threats of nuclear war, artificial intelligence, and natural disasters. Governments are silencing their citizens. Technology companies continue to increase their power through data collection and the continued development of sophisticated algorithms. The most important aspect of preparation for The Event is knowing what you’re up against, so I’ve listed the potential causes of The Event below:

Uncontrollable Technology

The California Elites (CEs) love their technology. They say they want to save the world, but we know better. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon all have enough data on us to predict our actions, which, for now, just means they show us more relevant advertisements. That said, the CEs are playing with fire. Technology is improving rapidly and the CEs are too arrogant to realize that their creations will soon be smarter than them. You cannot defeat an enemy that knows your next move, which is why we’ll need to stay off the battlefield. Pack your bug-out bag, prepare your bunker, and plan your escape. We can’t trust the CEs, but we can anticipate their mistakes.

Nuclear War

Kim Jong-un has nuclear weapons and he is ready to use them. He’s an insane man who killed his brother and his uncle. While President Trump knows not to trust him, we need to look at his collaborators. North Korea, China, and Russia are all trading partners armed with nuclear weapons. They have increased tensions with our great nation and rule their countries without any accountability to their citizens. Such power leads to arrogance and incompetence, which makes these dictators no different than the CEs. These countries have made it clear that they intend to expand their borders (China with Taiwan and Russia with Crimea) and are not afraid to do so by force. I’ll be out of harm’s way before the deployment of the first nuclear weapon. It’s important that you are too.

(Un)Natural Disasters

Noah built an ark in preparation for forty days and forty nights of rain. I don’t claim to speak with God, but I do know that he punishes sinners. The CEs are experiencing droughts and the New York bankers will soon be underwater. Arrogance and greed will be replaced with heat waves and floods. Forest fires and torrential tornadoes seem to be on the news everyday. We can survive these threats with advance preparation. Survival capsules, bunkers, precious metals, and non-perishable foods are some of our key defenses against the above disasters. Preparation is everything. We’ll do everything we can to survive. Please contact me or leave a comment with any suggestions.

preparation for the event