Common-sensical—perhaps too much so for policymakers to stomach—and plainspoken. Free trade absolutists and corporate...

AMERICAN MADE

WHY MAKING THINGS WILL RETURN US TO GREATNESS

Do you want to build an economy? Well, you can make burgers, or you can make things—and making burgers, warns the former CEO of steel giant Nucor, is a fast track to immiseration.

For the last 30 years, writes DiMicco, the United States has followed a course whereby jobs have fled the country for cheaper labor markets while our own economy has been converted from manufacturing to service. “We went out of our way to dismantle what made this country great,” he writes, “while other countries around the world are building their way to greatness.” Even as DiMicco was propounding arguments on Capitol Hill for the creation of 200,000 high-paying jobs per month over a five-year span, Congress was finding ways to hobble so-called free trade, cutting deals with the corporate giants that allowed them to outsource their operations at no penalty and regulating incoming manufacturers to such an extent that they boarded up shop and returned to their home countries. The infrastructure crisis is fast crippling the nation, and everyone knows it except, it seems, Congress, which is reluctant to spend a dime if it means raising taxes on the wealthy or on corporations. “I wouldn’t even classify infrastructure spending as ‘spending,’ ” writes the author, who’s no one’s idea of a squishy liberal. “It’s a public investment that pays dividends for decades”—and, he adds, every dollar of infrastructure spending adds $1.59 in gross domestic product. A no-brainer? Well, he suggests, a lack of brains is what has gotten us into a mess that can be fixed only by building our way to solvency—a seeming impossibility since Congress once again refused to build a “buy America” plank into the last series of stimulus packages.

Common-sensical—perhaps too much so for policymakers to stomach—and plainspoken. Free trade absolutists and corporate apologists will hate it, but as for the rest, it’s worthy of much discussion.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-137-27979-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more