“A show about the attack on the authority
of referees in American life,
and what that’s doing to our idea of fairness.” —Michael Lewis
“Don’t pick sides, unless it is mine.” This is the message of Michael Lewis’s son to the referees in his life. Humans at every age struggle with the idea of fairness in life. Against the Rules explores a variety of arenas in life where referees are needed, such as consumer finance, language, stock-trading, the legal system, visual art, and sports itself. Host and bestselling author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short, The Blind Side, Flash Boys) uses his reputation, boyish curiosity, and storytelling ability to create a valuable critique of humanity’s complicated relationship with fairness.
Lewis gains access to interview federal judges, administrators, and academics in the most powerful organizations of America. His reputation opens the doors for conversations among those who have the expertise and power to impact millions of citizens with their decisions and actions. Even when human failures and broken systems highlight injustice, Michael Lewis paints a picture of what he believes are the qualities of a fair person. A combination of tenacity, consistency, morality, authenticity, neutrality, and integrity are needed if humanity is to have hope of restoring fairness to society.
Lewis asks simple questions and gets quickly to the bottom of some extremely complicated issues. He demonstrates genuine curiousness for others, even flying to Ireland to meet the parents of someone he interviewed (ep. 7).
Above all, Lewis knows how to take the information he has gathered and weave it together into a compelling story that listeners can easily follow and understand. The first season of Against the Rules ends with hope. We hear of a couple of stock traders who found out the stock-exchange system was purposefully broken and set to fix this rigged system. They chose to give up their lucrative careers to become referees so they could fix the injustices they saw. Despite significant ridicule and persecution, they succeeded in making the financial system just a little fairer.
The traits of fairness sound similar to many of the teachings of the Bible. Yet Jesus demonstrates a fairness more radical than the one Michael Lewis hopes for. Rather than equality, we learn in the parable of the vineyard workers in Matt. 20:1-16 the radical nature of fairness where the workers are paid the same when the work is different. Jesus ends by saying, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Simply seeing fairness as equality, Michael Lewis misses out on the transformational power of the other-centered love. Still, Against the Rules is an excellent podcast for engaged citizens of American life. Season Two is currently being aired and moves on to look at the concept and traits of coaches. (Pushkin Industries)