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The Modern Scholar: Rules of the Game: How Government Works and Why It Sometimes Doesn't

Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Politics
4 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

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  • GLBT
  • Illinois
  • 08-02-12

Two Professors Battling it Out over Politics

"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!

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Great introduction with fantastic perspective

I can only ask that more intellectuals with opposing opinions come together like this course. Learning politics from two views is the way should be. Well done!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Philo
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 07-31-19

USA political economy, told well, calmly

This is an American history book, and economics book, and a politics book, all woven together in clear tales. There are plenty of colorful real-life characters around whom the stories and ideas are well-arranged. The two professors working off each other keeps a freshness to it. These are pretty abstract ideas but told so anyone can understand. I especially appreciate the more conservative of the two, who never falls into the trap of being vindictive: he lets the ideas and calm arguments do the talking. This is SO refreshing in today's time of political circus at a shrill pitch that quickly loses the reasoning and falls into an insult-contest. We as a public audience probably deserve the worsening political theater we are getting, because evidence suggests fake and catchy "news" catches more attention than reality (which requires a sharper mind and more cognitive work). But these fellows, alongside being very principled on that, make it all as clear and easy as it can get. The title very aptly tells what this is about: many instances in which government is admittedly needed and functional, and plenty when it is not. This book raises one's ability to sort all this out.

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  • Kenneth
  • WASHINGTON, DC, United States
  • 05-28-13

I like this but where is the written companion?

What made the experience of listening to The Modern Scholar: Rules of the Game: How Government Works and Why it Sometimes Doesn't the most enjoyable?

This is an unusual course in that there are two professors. At times it's a tad confusing because their voices are pretty similiar so it's sometimes confusing to know who one is listening to, and since they have different perspectives it's important to know.

Would you be willing to try another book from Professor Phillip W. Magness and Professor Paul Weissburg ? Why or why not?

Yes, but I'd like the written part that usually accompanies these.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Phillip W. Magness and Paul Weissburg ?

Yes

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It's a course!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful