Is all this pie-in-the-sky thinking? Perhaps so, but Smick’s call for a fairer capitalism makes for bracing reading for...

READ REVIEW

THE GREAT EQUALIZER

HOW MAIN STREET CAPITALISM CAN CREATE AN ECONOMY FOR EVERYONE

The worst enemy of capitalism is…capitalism.

That is one takeaway from financial adviser Smick (The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy, 2008), the founder and publisher of International Economy magazine. One of the lessons learned from the recent presidential election is that there is a hunger for populism in the United States, whether of an authoritarian or a libertarian nature. Thus the Bernie Sanders campaign, which held capitalism as an economic system to be the chief author of our woes. However, writes the author, the culprit is not so much the system of private profit for goods and services, but a global machine that has become much larger and more entrenched than anyone might ever have imagined. “In recent decades, a Corporate Capitalism of inside deal-making, elite special privilege, and dominance by large institutions has...exerted a stranglehold over the U.S. economy,” writes Smick, going on to say that this kind of capitalism is not the kind that we ought to preserve. In its place the author advocates for “Main Street Capitalism,” characterized by openness of access and entry and favoring entrepreneurship and small business, the historic engines of most economic growth. Smick is long on both diagnosis and prescription; he offers detailed notes, for instance, on how tax policy favors the big players, with a private equity firm on Wall Street paying 15 percent capital gains while a family-owned dry cleaner down the road would pay half that. Populist sentiment aside, and though there's really not a whole lot new here, the author is clearly on the side of capitalism against any other kind of -ism, in the interest of which he proposes a “14-point plan” that leverages political compromise, tax and educational reforms, a modest minimum wage hike, and other measures to level a playing field that is indisputably tilted.

Is all this pie-in-the-sky thinking? Perhaps so, but Smick’s call for a fairer capitalism makes for bracing reading for students of the modern economy and polity.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61039-784-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more