Are The Discworld Books Overrated?

Terry Pratchett is one of the most famous British writers and his Discworld series has been read by millions. He has been praised by many as one of the funniest writers and master of the fantasy genre. His books have been hailed as literary classics and it has even been said that Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Might Be The Highest Form of Literature on the Planet.

So naturally hearing such praise (and being a fan of Douglas Adams and fantasy), I gave it a go. While I found them enjoyable, I wasn’t blown away. They were good but nothing great. So, I thought maybe I was missing something and wasn’t appreciating him fully (Pratchett hardly has critics so the problem must be with me). Or maybe I just haven’t got to the best book yet. So, I kept reading and in total, I’ve read 13 Discworld books, 7 in the City Watch series (up to Thud!), 3 in the Death series (up to Soul Music), the first 2 of the Moist von Lipwig books and Small Gods (also Good Omens which half counts).

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely brilliant elements, clever ideas and hilarious moments. I have a taste for absurd humour and I love political commentary, so there’s a lot I did like about the books. Yet, I began to suspect that Discworld might be overrated. Such a thought is blasphemy, so I kept it to myself until I read enough books to see that while there are some very good books, there are also plenty of mediocre ones. Continue reading “Are The Discworld Books Overrated?”

Misunderstanding Hayek And The Road To Serfdom

“The Road To Serfdom” by Fredrick Hayek is a disappointing book. Conservative bloggers often race about it claiming it has great insights into modern politics. While I disagree with the Austrian school of economics I read it to here the other point of view. I found it a boring, out dated book that didn’t have anything particularly original or insightful to say. It’s mainly concerned with saying a totalitarian state where the government controls everything doesn’t work (you don’t say). The book might have been relevant when it was published, but I am at a loss to see its use today.

I think to a large extent Hayek has been misunderstood. I have regularly heard people use Hayek to criticize the growth of the state or the Obama administration. Yet Continue reading “Misunderstanding Hayek And The Road To Serfdom”

Free Speech, Riots And Incitement To Hatred

The recent rioting in the Arab World has raised controversy and difficulties over how to balance respect and tolerance of others with the right to free speech. Are people free to criticize, even if this will cause offence? Should we ban offensive comments in order to keep the peace? Or is that rewarding violence? Should people be free to incite hatred? Even if it leads to deaths? Does the right to free speech include the right to insult? Continue reading “Free Speech, Riots And Incitement To Hatred”

In The Right Place At The Right Time

A while ago I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It is a book about very successful people and tries to find out what makes them so special. Surprisingly, he does not conclude that it is due to superior skill or talent. In fact he argues that there is no such thing as natural talent, rather all skill derives from practice. Instead it is luck that allows people to achieve enormous success. People become successful because they were in the right place at the right time. Continue reading “In The Right Place At The Right Time”

The Mythical Laffer Curve

Conservatives everywhere condemn the use of tax increases for fear of the Laffer Curve. This is the idea that if taxes are too high, people will lose the incentive to work and therefore revenue will actually decrease. It is most famous for its counter-intuitive argument that a tax cut could increase revenue. Unfortunately there is little or no evidence to support this claim. History clearly shows that cutting taxes does not increase revenue. The Laffer curve is a political idea used to justify tax cuts for the rich. It is not based on sound economics.

Continue reading “The Mythical Laffer Curve”

The Myth Of The Self-Made Millionaire

Most millionaires claim that they are self-made in that they earned their fortune alone. But no person is an island. Every millionaire owes their fortune to the help they received from others. In this world we are so interdependent that no one achieves anything without help from another. Obama was right, we received more help than we can possibly imagine. Our wealth and success are not only a measure of our talents and luck, but also a measure of how much help we had. We are tall because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Continue reading “The Myth Of The Self-Made Millionaire”

Rich Get Richer – Poor Get Poorer

It is often claimed that this recession is hitting all of us. It is said that the rich suffer just as much as anyone else, if not more. It is argued that we all must make a sacrifice as we are all in this together. However this simply isn’t true. In fact this crisis is resulting in even further increases in the gap between rich and poor. Inequality and poverty are rising to even higher heights. Austerity is making the poor suffer the most while leaving the rich untouched. Quite simply the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Continue reading “Rich Get Richer – Poor Get Poorer”