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I publish WendellNotes for significant books I read to make their perspective available to friends and GIN subscribers who may not otherwise have time for them. Before I started writing WendellNotes in 2011, book notes were part of my Journal. [Brackets separate my comments from the author's.]

Retracing the footsteps of giants not only makes us witnesses to the intellectual clashes of the past, it adds depth to our understanding of the ideas that resulted from it and are still with us today. The most basic question is not what is best but who decides what is best. The first rule of economics is scarcity—and the first rule of politics is to ignore the first rule of economics. Families are best positioned to socialize the next generation. “Having been forced by birth to be on the receiving end of discrimination for many years, I cannot find the cleverness to justify it now, either to others or to myself.” The biological continuity of the generations lends plausibility to the notion of group compensation—but only if guilt can be inherited. The contemporary socioeconomic position of groups in a given society often bears no relationship to wrongs they have suffered. Data show that the existence of racism is an insufficient explanation of social inequality. Government has a role to  play in social mobility, albeit a limited one, and incentives matter. It is not the recognition of a racial identity but its prioritization that is the problem. An adversarial, victim-focused identity that preoccupies us with white racism confuses racial unity with initiative--to rely on unity to do what only individual initiative can do.

Tacit knowledge is what we know but cannot say. Wisdom is defined by how one copes with uncertainty. Thoughtful long division provides simple and comparable metrics. Think about the margin, not the average. Positive cross-partials are the reason people congregate in urban areas.

Spreading values through commerce happens naturally--one reason why Business As Mission is so powerful. We must never equate economic or political weakness with spiritual frailty. Power is the enemy of Mutuality and often an enemy of Jesus Christ. Those most endowed with character and conviction are often ones who lack material wealth.

Download this file (meeting_of_the_waters.pdf)meeting_of_the_waters.pdf67 kB

Start with creation, not with Christ. It’s about discovering and obeying, not teaching and knowledge. Disciple people to conversion not vice versa. Coach lost people from the beginning to discover and obey biblical truth. Discovery Bible Studies begin with creation and work their way through Scripture. Pray for Muslims with love, because they don’t understand what they do. One of the most serious problems in Islam is Mohammed’s own dying confession that even he didn’t know what would happen to him after death. Making disciples is a group process. Groups remember more than individuals. They learn faster than individuals, require less repetition, and group repetition becomes individual memory. Groups replicate faster than individuals and more often. We have to avoid falling into the role of explaining Scripture. If we do, we become the authority rather than allowing Scripture to be the authority. From 50 to 70% of the new churches in the most violent and extreme Muslim areas happened in part because of signs and wonder.

Download this file (Miraculous Movements.pdf)Miraculous Movements.pdf206 kB

Private military actors worsen security in a free market such as Somalia but increase it in a mediated market such as Liberia and, under the right market circumstance, could even prove a powerful tool for the UN and others. Private military force, a timeless phenomenon, is back after a 400 year hiatus and is not likely to go away. The US penchant to lean on the private sector in war has produced the modern mercenary. The US has introduced 2 significant innovations to realize “humane” warfare: armed unmanned drones and a private military industry to do the dying for America. No one even tallies the numbers of dead contractors. The Army’s total cost of operating an infantry unit in Iraq was $110M, while hiring the same size unit from Blackwater to perform the same tasks was $99M. In peacetime, the cost differential jumps even more. The cost of maintaining an army infantry unit at home is $60M, whereas the cost of Blackwater is $0. “Moral hazard” is any situation in which one person makes the decision about risk, while someone else bears the cost if things go badly. In 2002 the US declared that it was “now threatened less by conquering states than by failing ones.” Neomedievalism: a non-state-centric, multipolar international system of overlapping authorities and allegiances within the same territory. International organizations now assert their own authority alongside states within the same territory, producing the conditions of neomedievalism. The IS vision of the future does not entail UN membership but rather a stateless caliphate and society based on their particular vision of Islam. Today about 1B people live in a failing or fragile state. When Westphalian militaries engage neomedieval foes, they often win every military engagement yet lose the war, because military success does not equal political victory. They achieve tactical results but fail in strategic objectives. In the era of colonialism strong European states conquered much of the world. Now the opposite is true. Strong states cringe at becoming entangled with weak states. Many of the specialized skills needed for stability operations can now only be found in the private sector and are considered proprietary knowledge. By outsourcing victory and defeat, the US is increasingly becoming vulnerable to the ebb and flow of contract warfare.

Download this file (Modern Mercenary2.pdf)Modern Mercenary202 kB

[This book offers the best explanation I’ve seen for the recently observed US sustained economic health and low inflation relative to other countries’ economies that are less free, with weaker institutions.] I call tech progress, capitalism, public awareness, and responsive government the “4 horsemen of the optimist.” When there is more capitalism, there is more prosperity. Economic growth in America and other rich countries has decoupled from resource consumption. Institutions are the “rules of the game” for a society. What we’re doing is working and therefore we should keep doing it. Some of us are certain that fairness means equality while others are adamant that it means proportionality. Talent is equally distributed; opportunity is not.             

Download this file (More From Less.pdf)More from Less239 kB

Allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns reduces violent crimes, and the reductions coincide closely with the number of concealed-handgun permits issues. Of all methods studied by economists, the carrying of concealed handguns appears to be the most cost-effective method for reducing crime. By 2007, stories of people who had used guns to defend themselves had helped motivate 39 states to adopt nondiscretionary concealed-handgun laws. After Florida’s 1987 law, the size of murder rate drop corresponded with the number of concealed-handgun permits outstanding. Women and blacks both tend to be the strongest supporters of gun control, yet obtain the largest benefits from nondiscretionary concealed-handgun laws. Violent crime rates were rising consistently before the right-to-carry laws and falling thereafter. Gun elimination strengthens criminals relative to physically weak victims. Between 1977 and 1996 29 states changed their laws. The benefits from these laws increase over time as more people obtain permits.]

Download this file (More Guns Less Crime3.pdf)More Guns Less Crime221 kB

Some leaders seem to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them, while others apply their intelligence to amplify others’ smarts and capability. Not only can you become a Multiplier yourself, you can find and create other Multipliers. Finding people’s genius begins by carefully observing them in action, looking for spikes of authentic enthusiasm and a natural flow of energy. Consistency creates predictability. Multipliers get more than 100% of people’s capability because they grow under the watch of a Multiplier. When the scoreboard is visible, people hold themselves accountable. Adopt the assumptions of a Multiplier and allow the behavior practices to naturally follow.

Download this file (Multipliers2.pdf)Multipliers216 kB

Racism in the US is worse than we thought and our responsibility is greater than we’ve been taught. The creation of a white standard in the world during the age of exploration and the white structural privilege prevailed for so long in America that it led to “white privilege.” It doesn’t mean your life isn’t hard—just that if you are a person of color your life might be harder. The word race can be traced only to the 16th century. Vagrancy laws lasted for over 60 years through 1927 across the South, enslaving hundreds of thousands of African Americans. The white American “creation story" is positive and exciting. The black American creation story is rooted in tragedy, kidnapping, enslavement, theft, coercion, rape, murder, genocide, inequality, exclusion, terrorism, and oppression in this country. Many things can only be seen through eyes that have cried. The greatest wounds and injustices in human history have happened through the institutions, systems, philosophies, cultures, religions, and governments of mankind.

Download this file (Myth of Equality.pdf)Myth of Equality221 kB

The Good Samaritan was an immigrant to Judea who was kind to a local citizen victimized by an assault. The Bible is in many ways a book about immigration. God invariably takes the side of the immigrant over and against the local, more established populations. With an appeal to “homeland security,” the Egyptians enslave the descendants of Abraham. Christianity was largely illegal for the first 300 years after the life of Christ. Christianity became illegal during the Protestant Reformation. Those who sought to limit Geneva’s welcome of religious exiles used many of the same arguments employed by those who seek to close America’s borders today. Some Americans believe that while immigration was unquestionably wise for their own parents or grandparents, it really ought to stop now in another form of NIMBY. The Bible makes specific provision for the care of those who immigrate because they are poor and seeking a better life for themselves and their families. In the Old Testament, aliens were classified, along with widows and orphans, as people to be helped.  Are international borders more deserving of protection than the humans who cross them? Justice is not the same as fairness. I’m not always sure what is fair, but it’s not hard to discern what is unjust. When discussions around immigration are educated, thoughtful, and separated from fear, prejudice, and xenophobia, consensus usually emerges.

Download this file (Neighbor2.pdf)Neighbor144 kB

This book is “being read from the hall of Congress to the statehouses across the country,” per a Newsweek article published 6/19/13. Mass incarceration in the US has emerged as a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner similar to Jim Crow. Studies show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. The stigma of criminality functions in much the same way that the stigma of race once did. Proponents of racial hierarchy found they could install a new racial caste system without violating the law or the new limits of acceptable political discourse by demanding “law and order” rather than “segregation forever.” Never before in our history have so many felt compelled to plead guilty, even if they are innocent. Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, ¾ of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been black or Latino. Unbridled discretion inevitably creates huge racial disparities. Roughly 65M people have criminal records, including tens of millions of Americans who have been arrested but never convicted of any offense, or convicted only of minor misdemeanors. Laws that said nothing about race operated to discriminate because those charged with enforcement were granted tremendous discretion and they exercised it in a highly discriminatory manner. Whereas black success stories undermined the logic of Jim Crow, they actually reinforce the system of mass incarceration.

Download this file (New Jim Crow (3).pdf)New Jim Crow (3).pdf157 kB

America's fundamental interests are the physical security of the US and a relatively untrammeled international economic system. The American presidency is weak at home but immensely powerful outside the US. How can the US espouse multiculturalism and then demand that other people select  their leaders the way people do in Iowa? Conventional virtue is unacceptable in a president. The practical foundation of the modem economy is the corporation. Without this innovation, there would be no stock market as we know it, no investment in start-ups, and little entrepreneurship. The president's task is to protect the republic from a world full of people who are not virtuous in any conventional sense. In deciding to invade in 2003, George W. Bush placed his moral obsession above the fundamental principle of American strategy: maintaining a balance in each region without committing substantial numbers of troops. If a president is to lead a nation into war, he must crisply designate both the enemy and the end being sought. Only one country ever produced a nuclear weaponfrom scratch--the US.

Download this file (Next Decade.pdf)Next Decade219 kB

[The way society wrestles with the judgment process is the fascinating subject of this book.] Noise audits suggest that respected professionals maintain an illusion of agreement while in fact disagreeing in their daily professional judgments. Underwriters who heard about the noise audit and accepted its validity never believed that its conclusions applied to them personally. Judgment is measurement in which the instrument is a human mind. Professionals are distressingly weak in what they often see as their unique strength: the ability to integrate information. The illusion of validity is found wherever predictive judgments are made. All mechanical approaches are noise-free and far superior to clinical judgments. Rules are transparent and easy to apply. Professional regard the idea of algorithmic decision making as dehumanizing and an abdication of their responsibility. Confidence is no guarantee of accuracy. Unknowns are characteristics of the task of prediction. Overconfidence is one of the best-documented cognitive biases. The future is unpredictable. However, the obviousness of this fact is matched only by the regularity with which it is ignored. People often mistake their sense of confidence for an indication of predictive validity. When they listen to their gut, decision makers hear the internal signal and feel the emotional reward it brings. Human judgment will not be replaced, so it must be improved. Causation implies correlation. Whatever the event, once it has happened, causal thinking makes it feel entirely explainable, indeed predictable. This continuous hindsight causal interpretation of reality is how we “understand” the world.

Download this file (Noise--A Flaw in Uman Judgement.pdf)Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment239 kB

7 stages of organizational development: Idea, Start-up, Growth, Maturity, Decline, Turnaround, and Terminal. 5 capacity builders ~ programs, management, governance, financial resources, and systems. Realizing the goals of high performance, best practices, and organizational effectiveness are wholly dependent on capacity.

Download this file (nonprofit_lifecycles.pdf)nonprofit_lifecycles.pdf603 kB

Alexis de Tocqueville came [from France] to America to learn how a fledgling nation, barely 50 years old, could already be competing with them on virtually every level. This was impossible. He was going to sort it out. We do not have to yield to pop culture, Hollywood, politicians, or the media who are enforcing political correctness. We need to simply ignore the “barking” and act like mature adults who can tolerate hearing something about which we disagree and still remain civil and open-minded. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has. Bullying by the British was a major impetus for the resistance movement that resulted in our ultimate independence and the establishment of our Constitution. When the vision of the US government included guarding the rights of people but staying out of their way, America was an economic engine more powerful than anything the world had ever seen.

Download this file (One Nation2.pdf)One Nation79 kB