If such changes are not made, the authors insist, democratic society will collapse, as it always does when "taxes fall most...

THE GREAT AMERICAN TAX DODGE

HOW SPIRALING FRAUD AND AVOIDANCE ARE KILLING FAIRNESS, DESTROYING THE INCOME TAX, AND COSTING YOU

An altogether rare bird: a book meant for a popular audience that actually speaks kindly of the IRS.

The cost of living in a democracy, muckrakers Barlett and Steele (Forevermore, 1984, etc.) observe, is to participate in the workings of government—and that includes paying your taxes. Millions of Americans, however, either fudge their returns, hide their assets in offshore accounts, or do not file at all, and the richer they are the more likely they are to avoid what is already a light burden, by comparison with other nations (for, as Barlett and Steele write, "over the last three decades, America's elected officials have turned a reasonably fair tax code into one crafted for the benefit of those who give the largest campaign contributions, enjoy the greatest access, hire the most influential lobbyists, or otherwise exercise a power beyond that enjoyed by average citizens"). The inevitable result is that average citizens wind up covering the bill for those best equipped to pay it, a fact that obviously enrages the authors. Given the collapse of common-good civics and the rise of a political culture in which the federal government is seen as evil and untrustworthy, Barlett and Steele observe, it's small wonder that many tax chiselers get away with not paying their due; and, the authors add, all this comes at a time when Congress (their real villain) continually hobbles tax-collection agencies. The authors carry on with sheer polemic for far too long, but they end with an entirely sensible call for closing loopholes, withholding income of all kinds rather than relying on voluntary compliance, and otherwise ending the massive giveaway to the rich that has accompanied a time of phenomenal economic growth.

If such changes are not made, the authors insist, democratic society will collapse, as it always does when "taxes fall most onerously on those least able to pay."

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2000

ISBN: 0-316-81135-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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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 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

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