Menu
Cart 0

John T. Reed’s review of The Premonition by Michael Lewis

Posted by John T. Reed on

I had great expectations for Michel Lewis’s new book: The Premonition. It’s about the pandemic.
.
I just finished it.
.
It says government at all levels is congenitally incompetent at managing a pandemic. Risks must be taken. Outcomes are uncertain. Politicians are at the top of the chain of command. All they care about is taking credit for everything good and blaming their opponents for everything bad. It is a disaster.
.
He identifies a collection of smart people some inside the bureaucracy, most outside in informal groups of people who are good at diagnosing the problem and know what needs to be done.
.
Here and there, the politically powerful, desperate not to look bad, hear about these people and ask their advice. But their politician incentives cannot allow them to do the right things.
.
My impression is that Operation Warp Speed was a great thing and Trump deserves great credit for it. Not a word about it in the book.
.
My first job was army officer. I encountered what I called OPUM and OVUM—actions that were Officially Prohibited but Unofficially Mandatory, like signing false documents and actions that were Officially Voluntary but Unofficially Mandatory, like having the attend mandatory “command performance” parties hosted by colonels on Friday or Saturday evenings.
.
I Instantly and absolutely refused to do those things, kept refusing when they pressured me to change, and spent my time in the Army in a one-man dog house. Most of the time, I was an assistant to someone who was not authorized to have an assistant.
.
So I never rose to any level but the absolute lowest and thus never encountered the high level incompetence and astonishing refusal to do the right thing that is depicted in this book.
.
The book is kind of depressing in that the good guys essentially never win. They are occasionally listened to, but their ideas generally are ignored for various political and bureaucratic reasons.
.
Generally, they might as well have not existed. So I do not know what the moral of Lewis’s story is. I know who the villains are: politicians and bureaucrats. I know who the good guys are, too, but I have no idea what the point of their goodness is. They knew how to drive the pandemic car, but were never allowed to do so.
.
If you were to use this book as a text, it would be in a course about the fecklessness and evil incentives of government and politics. I would have thought I did not need such a course after my four years as an Army officer. But the higher levels, which I did not experience, are far worse than even I thought. Okay, but what to do about them.
.
My books and articles mainly mention what the right thing to do is in passing, then get to my point which is how you can avoid being stepped on by the elephant that is bureaucracy and politics.
.
Self-employment is my main solution. But you have to relate to other humans to get them to pay you so I talk a lot in my Succeeding book about how one can be honest and true to yourself and still make a living.
.
I think Michael Lewis needs to apply some of my thinking to his book topics. I have read almost all of his books. I can see the same formula in each. But HE apparently cannot see that his formula works in situations like Blind Side and Moneyball or the Big Short, but not in The Premonition or Flash Boys.
.
I don’t want to be too hard on the guy. I was asked not long ago which famous person I would like to be more like and I said Michael Lewis. But that is not a strong feeling. I like being me in spite of less fame.
.
Also, Lewis lives in Berkeley, CA, about 12 miles from me. Our local paper recently told of his daughter and her boyfriend being killed in a head-on car crash with a semi-tractor. He and his wife Tabitha Soren also have another daughter and a son. Horrible thing.
.
I had a brief email conversation with him once. He and I both wrote books on baseball coaching and I complimented him on his Moneyball. I noted that I had read in the media that a Hollywood movie studio had bought the film rights to Moneyball and said, “I don’s know how anyone could make a movie about the book.” He said, “Me neither.”
.
We were both wrong. It’s a great movie.

Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →