A well-reasoned, evenhanded account of the immigration system.



Exploration of an obscure corner of immigration law tinged with racism and politicization.

Dating to the Cold War, a lottery system that in 1995 offered some 55,000 visas for Africans to move to the U.S. provided “a rare alternative to a long-standing sense of global marginalization.” There were 6.5 million applications for those visas. Naturally, scams soon abounded, with entrepreneurs promising shortcuts to success. Then the business of admitting entrants from any country—but particularly majority Black countries—fell into the morass of legislative and political dealing, especially in what Goodman, senior editor of the Made by History site at the Washington Post, characterizes as the openly racist Trump administration. “What has become clearer over time is that those who seek to eliminate the diversity visa lottery,” she writes, “do so because it represents a threat to white power in America.” Conversely, proponents of the diversity lottery view it as an expression of pluralistic democracy in action. Trump tried to undo it, though his efforts were thwarted, such that in 2019 about 110,000 green card recipients were from Africa. Because these recipients can bring family members with them, the process further runs up against foes of “chain migration,” an objection that, oddly enough, seems never to arise when the immigrants are White. Goodman looks at the history of Irish migration in several waves, with comparatively few roadblocks. However, she adds, the demographics have shifted, with most immigrants arriving not from Europe but Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Goodman offers a strong defense for the visa lottery, which is not weighted by country, allowing immigrants from all over Africa. Moreover, it has proven to be an instrument of goodwill not just in the Cold War era, but also in the post–9/11 years. As one Ghanaian told the author, “In the whole world it is only America that is open,” a sentiment that altogether too many nativists would like to disprove.

A well-reasoned, evenhanded account of the immigration system.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781469673042

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.


Everyone’s favorite avuncular socialist sends up a rousing call to remake the American way of doing business.

“In the twenty-first century we can end the vicious dog-eat-dog economy in which the vast majority struggle to survive,” writes Sanders, “while a handful of billionaires have more wealth than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes.” With that statement, the author updates an argument as old as Marx and Proudhon. In a nice play on words, he condemns “the uber-capitalist system under which we live,” showing how it benefits only the slimmest slice of the few while imposing undue burdens on everyone else. Along the way, Sanders notes that resentment over this inequality was powerful fuel for the disastrous Trump administration, since the Democratic Party thoughtlessly largely abandoned underprivileged voters in favor of “wealthy campaign contributors and the ‘beautiful people.’ ” The author looks squarely at Jeff Bezos, whose company “paid nothing in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018.” Indeed, writes Sanders, “Bezos is the embodiment of the extreme corporate greed that shapes our times.” Aside from a few passages putting a face to avarice, Sanders lays forth a well-reasoned platform of programs to retool the American economy for greater equity, including investment in education and taking seriously a progressive (in all senses) corporate and personal taxation system to make the rich pay their fair share. In the end, he urges, “We must stop being afraid to call out capitalism and demand fundamental change to a corrupt and rigged system.” One wonders if this firebrand of a manifesto is the opening gambit in still another Sanders run for the presidency. If it is, well, the plutocrats might want to take cover for the duration.

Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593238714

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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