Thursday marks the 3 month countdown to the release of All The Money In The World, with book buyers starting to look at it. And so I’m thrilled that Publishers Weekly gave the book a positive review this past week. According to the review (which you can read in full here), “Vanderkam explores the ways in which thinking more cogently about money’s role in our lives can bring us peace, and asks: if you had all the money in the world—not literally, but all you wanted—what would you change about your life? … Vanderkam’s gracious, levelheaded polemic will give readers some much-needed sanity around this difficult topic; as she observes: ‘If money can’t buy happiness, perhaps we’re not spending it right.'”
If you’re looking for a little more Laura reading, I also have a column in today’s USA Today called “Entrepreneurs are public servants too.” I point out the strangeness that our government rewards “public servants” (defined to basically include employees at most non-profits) with loan forgiveness, but doesn’t offer the same terms to people who work long hours for low pay to ultimately create the wealth that allows people to donate to non-profits in the first place.
9 thoughts on “Publishers Weekly touts All The Money”
Your book sounds great! Congratulations.
My Worst Evil–Losing Yourself has a
chapter about that.
OMG thank you for this take on Entrepreneurship! Also congrats on the review, can’t wait to read the book… when is the book out again ?
Gov employees totally mostly dont’ get it… amazing how creating jobs and working 100 hour weeks gets treated in a country that rewards work !
@Cara- the book is out March 1st. But can be pre-ordered whenever!
Laura, I’m thrilled for you! I just started reading it (I’m a few chapters in) and so far, I concur with PW!
I read your article and disagree with your premise. Most entrepreneurs are small and will stay that way. Only a few work long hours. Of the businesses started in this country, the overwhelming majority are in-home childcare, handyman/cleaning (house or small business) and small scale sales of various types (Tupperware, jewelry, Pampered Chef…). I’m not sure these are less worthy than non-profits but they are no more worthy, and they don’t require a college degree to enter.
Perhaps the real answer is that government should stop subsidizing college and loans would be available from private sources, who would likely take into account factors such as SAT/ACT performance and intended major. I think it would be quite sensible to limit college lending to people who are 1) prepared to complete college-level work without remediation and 2) have what an outsider views as a reasonable chance of employment in their field. People who need remedial work at 18, unless they have extenuating circumstances such as lack of English fluency, are unlikely to excel in the highest levels of their profession.
At a slightly higher level, business becomes much more complicated. Even a single employee requires understanding of withholding and unemployment tax law. Liability is a huge factor if you have any assets to protect and liability insurance is expensive and hard to get, one of the barriers to entry for small business. Business taxes and arcane rules, such as the now-revamped IRS rule to issue a tax document to any suppliers to which one pays $600 or more, are expensive to comply with, either in time or money. Environmental and safety (including food safety) compliance are other factors.
I was a National Merit Scholar who got a job at a Fortune 100 company and worked there for 11 years. I find legally running a small business to have quite a bit of overhead in terms of following regulations. People who can’t get a job after college are unlikely to be able to run a business, absent family connections or other extenuating factors. If they do run a business, it will probably be of the website support or landscaping variety- valuable services, but not ones that grow the economy much.
@Twin Mom: those website support and landscaping companies do create a reasonable number of jobs, though. There are close to 13 million people working for businesses with 1-9 employees: http://www.census.gov/econ/smallbus.html. And even providing work/income for the business owner alone is often a socially useful thing. Steve Mariotti, who runs the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (which works in low-income schools) has tales of alums being able to create their own jobs after serving time in prison — a time when it would clearly be difficult to be in the job market.
Twin Mom, have you read the paper, “What Do Small Businesses Do?” by two people from the University of Chicago? Interesting research, similar points.
Their research indicates that, “most small businesses have little desire to grow big or innovate in any observable way.” Basically, people who start small businesses generally intend to duplicate an existing product or service and serve an existing customer base, which doesn’t make them entrepreneurs. So in that sense, it’s hard to imagine they’re creating jobs. Really, it’s more like they’re jumping into the ring with everybody else providing that service and hoping they can draw enough business to themselves to make a go of it. These jobs would already exist…it’s just that somebody else would be doing them. Starting the business allows them to work for themselves instead of doing the same job working for somebody else…which is great, but it’s not a public service.
I looked up the paper and read some of it. The conclusions make sense to me. The small business owners I know- two specialist physicians, a real estate agent, a bike shop owner- are not going to experience rapid growth due to the local nature of their businesses and the natural limits of their markets.
Most web developers with skill will move into IT jobs with salary and benefits. Self-employed web developers are usually along the lines of my younger brother, who got a job running the website for our local United Way back in 2001 while he was in high school. He was paid the princely sum of $10/hr and could work around his sports practices. (He was an all-conference baseball pitcher and soccer goalie, so this was non-negligible.)
Landscapers have to compete with others who don’t hire legal immigrants or pay social security- a lot of work is under-the-table here. Most people who start their own business in that area probably wouldn’t pay much in taxes anyway and are struggling to feed their families, so I am not especially bothered that they ignore some of the complexities of employment law. As my other brother commented about people who poach deer, “I wouldn’t turn somebody in who poached a deer to get meat to eat. Hunting licenses are expensive and the rules are complex. If somebody poaches a deer to eat, I figure it saves on food stamps.”
link to the paper
I read the USA Today article, too. I’ve always assumed that the public service loan forgiveness is because people who work for non-profits tend to have to accept lower pay than they might otherwise get working in the private sector (whether for themselves or for somebody else), and they aren’t working in a job that will allow them to build up some kind of asset (like a business they own). They were basically trying to do things like get more math majors to consider going into teaching, and using this to offset the low salaries.