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Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race

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A former White House director of economic policy makes the outrageous argument that we don't really want to relax-we want to compete.

We think we will be happy when we have some downtime-when we can finally go on vacation, disconnect, shut down. But in this provocative book, Todd Buchholz will convince you that what you really want is to chase your tail-even if you never catch it.

Weaving in everything from neuroeconomics to evolutionary ...

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Overview


A former White House director of economic policy makes the outrageous argument that we don't really want to relax-we want to compete.

We think we will be happy when we have some downtime-when we can finally go on vacation, disconnect, shut down. But in this provocative book, Todd Buchholz will convince you that what you really want is to chase your tail-even if you never catch it.

Weaving in everything from neuroeconomics to evolutionary biology to renaissance art to General Motors, Buchholz will convince you that the race to compete has not only made us taller and smarter, it's what we love and need. Among the book's many counterintuitive takeaways are:

• Put off retirement-it can make you stupid.

• We all need to be control freaks.

• In-house competition is actually great for morale.

• Never let the ninth place team take home a trophy.

Witty, breezy, and very funny, Todd Buchholz shows that it's the race itself that literally delivers the rush, even if we never reach the finish line.

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  • Todd G. Buchholz
    Todd G. Buchholz  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

If you wake up every morning wishing that you could afford to quit your job and move to Provence, Todd Buchholz wants you to think again. The former White House economic advisor and hedge fund director thinks that the much-maligned rat race is a gift that enhances nearly every aspect of our lives. Marshaling statistics and enthusiasm, he notes that the retirement that most of us crave is often a pitfall of depression and diminished cognitive ability. Not all readers will agree with Buchholz's arguments, but there is no disputing that Rush is one stimulating read.

Publishers Weekly
Taking a vacation won't make you happy. Neither will attending a yoga retreat, argues Bucholz, a Harvard economics professor and former White House economic adviser. The quest for happiness has launched a huge industry touting the benefits of a return to a mythical, more relaxing "simpler" time. Bucholz calls its proponents "Edenists," and his book is a sharp rebuke to their message and popularity. Happiness is about activity, he says; stress drives us to perform our best, and competition is endemic to human nature. It leads to innovation and keeps us active, useful, and neurologically fit—he cites studies showing that people frequently show a drop in cognitive abilities after retirement. Though his high-spirited writing sometimes forgoes accuracy for hyperbole, he justifies his contempt for the "happiness industry," and advances his argument for setting ambitious goals for ourselves instead of lapsing into complacency or a "Zen-like sense of calm" with humor and conviction. (May)
Kirkus Reviews - Kikus Reviews

Former presidential economic advisor and hedge-fund director Buchholz (New Ideas from Dead CEOs: Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office, 2007, etc.) sings the praises of competition—in both our personal and professional lives—for leading a happier, healthier life.

The author marshals evidence from a number of sources—neuroscience, psychological investigations, evolutionary theory, common sense and his own experience—to suggest that the great avenue to happiness is being in the hunt, that competition, in all its risk and intensity, is what gets the vital juices flowing. In a zesty voice, and with the occasional wiseacre comment, he presents intelligent remarks on the value of hard work. He draws important distinctions between good and bad competition ("There is a big difference between meeting healthy, productive challenges and plundering your coworker's ego") and between good and bad anxiety (the former being nervous energy, the latter a lifestyle without enough choices). Buchholz appreciates that the competitive marketplace is often not fair, but then neither is life—it's a struggle in which you have to actively engage, and that engagement brings happiness in its wake. Not all readers will agree with the author that "[w]e prefer to earn more than our colleagues at work...because that is a signal that we have earned our keep," or when he asks, "[w]hat's the point of hailing a people as happiest if their purported happiness does not inspire them to reproduce?" Although the humor is fun and a little corny for the most part, it can also be snarky: "The contented do not grow smarter, they grow moss." But the author saves his humanist best for last in a tribute to personal goals, fulfilling forms of competition with yourself that don't require you to root for the defeat of others.

Buchholz projects a communicable affection for the loud business of life, of risk-taking and devoted engagement in the pursuit of happiness.

Kirkus Reviews

Former presidential economic advisor and hedge-fund director Buchholz (New Ideas from Dead CEOs: Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office, 2007, etc.) sings the praises of competition—in both our personal and professional lives—for leading a happier, healthier life.

The author marshals evidence from a number of sources—neuroscience, psychological investigations, evolutionary theory, common sense and his own experience—to suggest that the great avenue to happiness is being in the hunt, that competition, in all its risk and intensity, is what gets the vital juices flowing. In a zesty voice, and with the occasional wiseacre comment, he presents intelligent remarks on the value of hard work. He draws important distinctions between good and bad competition ("There is a big difference between meeting healthy, productive challenges and plundering your coworker's ego") and between good and bad anxiety (the former being nervous energy, the latter a lifestyle without enough choices). Buchholz appreciates that the competitive marketplace is often not fair, but then neither is life—it's a struggle in which you have to actively engage, and that engagement brings happiness in its wake. Not all readers will agree with the author that "[w]e prefer to earn more than our colleagues at work...because that is a signal that we have earned our keep," or when he asks, "[w]hat's the point of hailing a people as happiest if their purported happiness does not inspire them to reproduce?" Although the humor is fun and a little corny for the most part, it can also be snarky: "The contented do not grow smarter, they grow moss." But the author saves his humanist best for last in a tribute to personal goals, fulfilling forms of competition with yourself that don't require you to root for the defeat of others.

Buchholz projects a communicable affection for the loud business of life, of risk-taking and devoted engagement in the pursuit of happiness.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594630774
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/5/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author


Todd G. Buchholz is an internationally acclaimed economist who advises ABC News, as well as some of the world's leading investment funds. He has served as a director of economic policy at the White House and is a contribuiting editor for Worth magazine. Buchholz holds advanced degrees from Cambridge University and Harvard Law School and was awarded the Allyn Young Teaching Prize by Harvard University's Department of Economics.
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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Thomas Carlyle defined Economics as the "dismal science," and any skeptic has probably heard at least a dozen satirical definitions of economists and their craft. If so, they haven't met Todd Buchholz, author of a half dozen books such as NEW IDEAS FROM DEAD ECONOMISTS to BRINGING THE JOBS HOME, each of them trying to place our current economic arena into perspective, and each of them well worth reading. Todd has a wealth of experience that indemnifies his expertise, from Harvard trained lawyer, White House Economic Advisor to the first Pres. Bush, manager for a billion dollar hedge fund, lecturer at Harvard and Cambridge University in England and many other venues, as well as frequently appearing on CNBC, a channel devoted to reportage of global economics. I have to thank that cultural gem National Public Radio for leading me to his latest literary effort, RUSH, Why You Need and Love the Rat Race one evening when he gave an entertaining yet informative commentary on our current budgetary dilemma on "Market Place."
    With all of his accomplishments, Todd does not sit in an Ivory Tower. The eponymous title of the book comes from RUSH, a contemporary iconic rock group. His book also gave me some insight upon why I worked until I was 70 years old and mustered out of the work force when I could have retired much earlier. Had I written the book, I probably would have chosen a title such as THAT'S LIFE, a song by Frank Sinatra, my generational icon, that echoes one of Buchholz"s basic themes in the text with the lyrics: "I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet/ a pawn and a king/ I've been over and under and down and out/ and I know one thing./ Each time I find myself lying flat on my face/ I pick myself up and get back /into the race." Metaphorically, Todd has been and done all of those things.
    He draws not only upon personal experience, but alludes to and draws from dozens of authorities to back his premise He begins with Adam, from the Garden of Eden. He calls those who would foster and return to such an existence as Edenists. He places such revered figures as Rousseau (father of the "Noble Savage" concept), and Thoreau, the American romanticist who retreated to Walden Pond. These personalities decry civilization as corrupt, leading to a host of social ills. He contrasts them with such theorists as Hobbes, who said that, " '.before society, life was nasty, poor, brutish, and short.' " Society made what Todd calls a Giant Leap: Foraging societies (that is, Edenists) are historically much more violent than today's working culture. "Work makes people less violent and less impulsive," says he, citing a host of statistics that affirm the brutality of primitive cultures.
    Darwin becomes the centerpiece of his argument. He uses Darwin as an extended metaphor for the evolution of homo sapiens. He gives a biographical sketch of Darwin as a student, evolving to the naturalist/biologist aboard the HMS Beagle on its tour around the world, stopping at such eye-opening places as the Galapagos Islands, back to England never to leave that island, spending much of the rest of his life developing what would become the earth shattering Theory of Evolution in his Origin of the Species.
    He extends Darwin's concept of evolution into the modern age, citing how the human brain has gone through three stages of development: (1) Reptilian, which controls life f

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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