Review of The Fifth Risk

Review of The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
Rating ****

I’ll admit that I am not a Trump fan. Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, described him as a con man, a liar, and a cheat. That says it all. I also knew that equally incompetent people surrounded him at every level. Michael Lewis’s book delves deeper into that incompetence by examining the early days of the Trump transition.

The book examines three government agencies and what happened after Trump won: Commerce, Energy, and Agriculture. I’ll give Trump a pass for being ignorant. He doesn’t read. He didn’t think he would win. And he has the leadership skills of an uneducated dictator. So it isn’t that unimaginable that he was unprepared for the task. But couldn’t he have at least had the common sense to keep some of the career government people who understood the responsibilities of their respective agencies?

The only requirement Trump had for appointing someone to a position was that he or she, mostly old white he’s, was a vocal supporter. It also helped if you had donated generously to his campaign. If you were also a climate change denier and despised a particular government agency, you were a lock. Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, hated any regulation that hampered oil production. We’ll put him in charge of the Department of Energy. It was only after the fact that Rick Perry and the Trump team learned that the Department of Energy had little to do with energy production.

The same incompetence metastasized throughout the government. Wilbur Ross was a successful businessman (according to Wilbur Ross), we’ll put him in charge of Commerce. Wait. The Commerce Department doesn’t have anything to do with Commerce or trade?

Michael Lewis could have picked any government agency and could have told the same story. I wish he would have looked at the EPA and how Scott Pruitt and his successor have taken us back fifty years to a time before there were regulations in place to protect our land, water, and air.

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