A savvy inside look at the social movement challenging decades of stark economic decline.

THE FIGHT FOR FIFTEEN

THE RIGHT WAGE FOR A WORKING AMERICA

An expert exploration of a provocative blueprint for rescuing the American middle class through the creation of a new living wage.

When New York City fast-food workers first walked off the job in the fall of 2012, power brokers nationwide roundly derided their calls for a $15-per-hour minimum wage as nothing more than pie-in-the-sky prattling. "God bless them—shoot for the stars,” said New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the assembly finally moved to take action. But the spark that those hard-pressed workers ignited would not be limited to New York. Soon, struggling workers in the Pacific Northwest were also spurred to action—first in modest SeaTac, then in Seattle, where the drive for the higher minimum wage finally hit pay dirt. In this comprehensive analysis of the Fight for $15's earliest challenges, Rolf, the president of the Service Employees International Union 775, provides true insight into the competing forces that ultimately yielded one of the most important victories for organized labor in decades. The author’s plainspoken approach and stellar scholarship illuminate in-depth discussions about the deliberate policy decisions that began to decimate the middle class at the start of the 1980s as well as the insidious new ways in which big business continues to attack American workers today via stagnant wages, rampant subcontracting, unpredictable scheduling, and other detrimental practices associated with the so-called “share economy.” Ditching moldy, Reagan-era dogma for a fresh “middle-out” approach, Rolf looks beyond traditional unionism for new ways to empower workers through collective action. Self-avowed venture capitalist “gazallionaire” Nick Hanauer is on board. “ ‘The fundamental law of capitalism,’ he argues, is that ‘if workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators.’ ”

A savvy inside look at the social movement challenging decades of stark economic decline.

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62097-113-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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

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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

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