Common Sense by Joel Greenblatt is a book that offers an investor’s perspective on building an economy that truly works for everyone.
The author makes a lively and provocative case for disruptive new approaches, some drawn from personal experience, some from the outside looking in.
However, this book is only very peripherally related to investing. It is more a policy-oriented book about education, immigration, and banking regulation.
The author champions the benefit of highly-skilled immigration from an economic perspective and courageously outlines the cost:benefit of immigration based on various educational levels.
He also argues that public education is just as much about politics (if not more) than being held accountable for overall excellence. He is a believer in public charter schools so that children who live in zip codes with high levels of poverty and a lower income tax base can achieve academic success.
What I Liked
The book has some well-argued policy ideas, though I think many of his arguments fall flat or completely misframes the issue.
What I Did Not Like
His arguments are honestly, not common sense. They are all just off the shelf center-right business-oriented solutions. He loves to straw man issues to set up a complex solution. For example, in the section on education, he points to the distorting effects of education funding by ZIP code. But rather than doing the simple and obvious solution to even out funding…he argues for yet another complicated layer of programs and schools run by 3rd party organizations. Same with the rest of the book.
The guy is a great investor, but a mediocre public policy writer.