Maddening for those who care about matters constitutional and an important document in the ongoing struggle to undo Citizens...

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WE THE CORPORATIONS

HOW AMERICAN BUSINESSES WON THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS

A chronicle of the steady, willful process by which corporations became people—until, that is, you try to sue them.

As Winkler (Law/UCLA; Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, 2011) notes, “there was nearly $1 billion in new political spending” in the first campaign cycle after the Citizens United v. FEC decision of 2010, almost all from corporations or wealthy individuals—and that was just at the federal level. It’s worth remembering that Citizens United began as an attack on Hillary Clinton, every conservative’s favorite bête noire; but, as Winkler notes, it had long antecedents. His account begins nearly 120 years before, in fact, with an argument by Roscoe Conkling, a former senator and friend of President Chester Arthur, before the Supreme Court positing that the authors of the 14th Amendment meant to include corporations when they wrote that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” As Winkler wryly observes, the amendment was meant to protect the rights of newly emancipated enslaved people, not Southern Pacific, and, as he writes, “there was just one small problem with Conkling’s account of the drafting of the Fourteenth Amendment: it was not true.” Untruths and half-truths abound in the author’s subsequent discussion of arguments advanced before—and increasingly accepted by—American courts, including the premise with the recent Hobby Lobby decision that corporations, as voluntary associations of people, can hold religious views. It’s small consolation that corporations themselves have not succeeded in gaining the right to vote, but they hold other powers, including, after Citizens United, “the right to use their amassed resources to influence candidate elections.” At the same time, thanks to what can only be perceived as a perversion of justice and judicial intent, corporations have none of the responsibilities of people, a textbook example of having your cake and eating it too.

Maddening for those who care about matters constitutional and an important document in the ongoing struggle to undo Citizens United.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-87140-712-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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