With a provocative point-counterpoint format, Rules of the Game features two widely respected professors - of widely divergent political views - in a lively discussion of how government works. Phillip Magness, a Texas Republican, and Paul Weissburg, a left-winged liberal, go head to head on such topics as "good" public administration, Congress, big business, and everyone's favorite bugaboo, bureaucratic dysfunction.
©2011 Phillip Magness and Paul Weissburg (P)2011 Recorded Books
"Rules of the Game" is the only entry in the Modern Scholars series to feature two professors and the result is a dynamic interaction that is equal parts lecture, discussion, and debate. Professor Magness is a conservative Libertarian whose main argument is that government is inevitably going to sell itself to the highest bidder (special interest groups, lobbyists, etc.) and so magnify the worst aspects of the free market system rather than fix them. Professor Weissburg is a liberal whose position seems to be that the solution to a flawed government isn't to further handicap it by cutting or under-funding government programs; if it doesn't work, we need to focus on making it better.
The two professors split up the lectures, with Magness taking a more historical look at US government and Weissburg focusing more on issues like privatization, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and private governance. The highlight of the series is the final lecture, where the two professors finally get back together to apply everything they've discussed to a single case study: the US financial crisis. They show how all this political theory can be applied to a single case and, more interestingly, how one's personal political biases can determine which interpretation a case like this seems to "prove".
The interaction between Magness and Weissburg is a lot of fun and my only critique of this lecture series would be that I would have liked more debate between them. Some of the individual lectures are fascinating but some can get a little dry at times. Overall, though, this was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about US government, politics, economic theory, and current events!
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