A refreshingly unconventional anatomy of the nation’s economic ailments, but it presents its remedies too quickly and...




A sweeping plan for political and economic reforms in the United States, pragmatically based on policies’ rates of return.

According to debut author Macke, the principal problems that beset the United States are politically generated—a series of unforced errors made by politicians who elevate partisan considerations over practical benefits. He proposes a new “action plan” that replaces “today’s established system in which the spending of taxpayer dollars is based on campaign donations, lobbying dollars spent, and which special interest has more power” with a decision-making process based on return on investment. First, Macke supports an “incentive-based corporate tax policy” that ties the availability of tax breaks to a company’s performance in hiring and providing wage increases. Second, he formulates a trade policy that emphasizes the enormous leverage of having the “largest, most affluent market in the world” that every nation want to access. The government should use that incomparable advantage to renegotiate fairer trade deals globally, he says, even if that means the judiciously deploying protectionist instruments, such as tariffs and quotas. Macke proffers some boldly original suggestions; for example, in order to avert a future financial crisis, he recommends that executive compensation at banks should be linked to the repayment of loans they approve. He also argues that congressional pay and pensions should be pegged to the overall performance of the economy. The author covers an impressively broad swath of political terrain along the way—proposing a four-step strategy to reform Congress, a new approach to the funding of higher education, and a road map for the expansion of the middle class. This remarkable breadth, however, is also a vice, as Macke covers too many subjects to address any of them in convincing depth. He also has a tendency is to reduce complex topics to a tug of war between common sense and “myths” to be dispelled, rather than empirically engaged. Although his arguments are consistently provocative, they’re disappointingly dismissive of political reality. Indeed, the author seems uninterested in how significant legislative reforms would be passed by a Congress in which he has so little faith.

A refreshingly unconventional anatomy of the nation’s economic ailments, but it presents its remedies too quickly and stridently.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64293-096-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Post Hill Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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