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The holiday season is a time for good cheer, family togetherness, and pointless political arguments with your dearest loved ones over dinner and that fifth glass of red wine. These internecine battles are even worse when your great uncle revels in the minutiae of healthcare finance and your second-cousin just scored a fellowship at a tax policy think-tank. (Note: I apologize in advance to my family for ruining the mood with an extended discussion of economic development incentives.)

The best way to avoid a lengthy discursion on the merits of the Export-Import Bank is to buy your wonky relatives a gift good enough to buy you a few hours’ peace. Luckily for you, the nerds at ITEP have compiled this holiday guide to make your life easier!


We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money ($24 on Amazon): “Edward Kleinbard is one of the foremost expects in tax and budget policy, and his new book is definitely one of the best policy books released this year. While I do not agree with everything, the book provides a crucial picture of America’s fiscal state and thoughtfully lays out how lawmakers could create a more economically efficient and financially responsible government.” – Richard Phillips

Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie and Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bold Tales From the American Gothic House ($19 and $21 on Amazon, respectively): “Seems like we are always fighting over the same revenue pie – education needs their slice, economic development, health and human services too. In that vein, I recommend these two books by author Beth Howard. The former talks about how pie making helped Beth deal with complicated grief following the death of her husband just hours before divorce papers were to be signed, and the latter is a book of her pie recipes. Howard makes a very convincing case that the world would be a better place if more people baked and shared pie together. Here’s hoping that as legislative sessions start there are more conversations about making the revenue pie bigger, and that folks from both sides of the political spectrum come together to enjoy some homemade goodness.” – Kelly Davis

 The Tax Shelter Coloring Book (How to Color Yourself Rich!) ($6 on Amazon): “Are you tired of kids coloring in the latest Disney character? Do you think that coloring should also help a family’s bottom line? If so, you need this classic coloring book in your life. It not only has lots of information about how to set up your financial arrangements for tax avoidance purposes, it also has plenty of pictures for children to color in!” – Richard Phillips

Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? ($10 on Amazon): “This book is a childhood classic, and the section on road construction can help you introduce complicated ideas around infrastructure financing to the budding policy nerd in your life.” – Rebecca Wilkins

The Settlers of Catan ($33 on Amazon): “This popular game is a perfect introduction to the world of insanely complicated German board games set in abstract agrarian economies. It is also the perfect way to start a conversation on the merits of taxing resource extraction to pay for road construction, if that’s your thing.” – Meg Wiehe

We’re Not Broke ($20 online): “There is no better overview of how multinational corporations are using their political clout and complex financial maneuvers to avoid taxes than this brilliant documentary, written and directed by Victoria Bruce and Karen Hayes. The movie dives right into how corporations like Google and Apple are able to avoid paying billions in taxes and leave everyday American taxpayers holding the bag.” – Richard Phillips

Titleist Pro V1 Golf Balls ($55 for a dozen on Amazon): “Golf balls, good novels, etc. Anything to make the wonks more human.” – Bob McIntyre