An average contribution to a variety of political debates.

WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU

HOW POLICE AND GOVERNMENT ARE TRAMPLING OUR LIBERTIES - AND HOW TO TAKE THEM BACK

Investigative reporting and anecdotes demonstrate why the author believes United States citizens should fear governments at all levels.

A journalist and self-described “leftist libertarian,” Kirby (Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity, 2012, etc.) certainly understands the vital roles of governments regarding roads, parks, schools, consumer safety, environmental protection, and even law enforcement. In this book, the author focuses on how and why government entities in Washington, D.C., state capitals, county seats, city halls, and law enforcement complexes consistently restrict the rights of Americans. Kirby hopes to raise individual consciousness with the case studies and then encourage individuals to mobilize against government overreach, whether it is well intended or motivated by corruption. The chapters focus on warrantless police searches of residences; child protective services removing juveniles from families; incarceration of suspects for minor alleged offenses or inability to pay bail (manifested in the proliferation of “modern-day debtors’ prisons”); a law enforcement practice known as forfeiture, which strips cash and other assets from alleged criminals, many of whom are not guilty; suppression of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment; governmental invasions of individual privacy; a malfunctioning criminal justice system revolving around out-of-control police, inefficient courts, and mass incarceration in inhumane jails and prisons. The author also explains why he decided to exclude a chapter about voter suppression by governments, suppression aimed unequally at people of color. He goes on to delineate why he decided to omit Second Amendment controversies over gun ownership and government-enforced gun control. Kirby generally avoids partisan political verbiage; throughout the narrative, he chooses case studies that reflect poorly on nearly everyone involved in the political process: Republicans, Democrats, and so-called civil servants who are unaffiliated. Readers who pay attention to the news behind the headlines will already know much of this information, and Kirby’s proposed reforms at the end of each chapter are intriguing but probably mostly impractical in the current political climate.

An average contribution to a variety of political debates.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-06436-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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