Reading List: The Sidney Awards


The political commentator and writer David Books gives out annual Sidney Awards to the best magazine essays. All are wonderful, but three bear particularly interest for entrepreneurs and others with an interest in the capital markets.

First was “Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds,” by Michael Lewis and first published in Vanity Fair. Especially for anyone who has cursed the IRS and wondered what would happen should the US Government lose its ability to collect taxes — well, be careful what you wish for.

Second is “Solitude and Leadership” by William Deresiewicz, which was initially a lecture at West Point, subsequently published in The American Scholar. Leadership, particularly of big institutions, often means having the courage to resist the conformity and routine that characterize those institutions. Often, he says, this is learned through the ability to reflect – at exactly the same time we move to increased multitasking.

Third is a piece on “The Inequality that Matters” by Tyler Cowen.  Cowen notes, what is now shared between different social classes is far greater than what is separated. Envy, as he points out, is usually local (with a wonderful quote attributed to Gore Vidal: “Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies“), yet the riches available exacerbate excessive risk-taking and cause substantial and dangerous implications for the economy.