Goldberg’s writing occasionally plods, and his lengthy quotations from other sources become tiresome, but he does offer some...

THE JOINT VENTURED NATION

WHY AMERICA NEEDS A NEW FOREIGN POLICY

A global economics consultant debuts with an analysis of the failure of American foreign policy to adapt to the new realities of an interconnected world.

The days when leading nations could act solely as rivals are over, writes Goldberg (Political Economy/New York Univ. Center for Global Affairs), who served on Barack Obama’s foreign policy network team. Now, in a globalized world where markets and central banks shape events as much as governments and diplomats, world powers must become joint venture partners. Like corporations that form pragmatic partnerships to enter new markets for mutual profit, the United States must begin to relate to such logical JV partners as the rest of North America, Europe, Japan, and China in ways that reflect their mutual dependence. No longer a matter of confrontational politics, or of making the world safe for democracy, American foreign policy must now be fine-tuned to engage in “a multilayered game of power politics wrapped inside the enigma of globalization, which is then stirred and shaken by markets, central banks, and social media.” Recounting the forces that globalized society since the 1970s, Goldberg details the impact of interconnectedness in the U.S., where 70 percent of job-creating foreign investments come from Europe and some 6 million Americans work for European firms. Nonetheless, Americans’ “subliminal fear” of the outside world and the painful economic effects many have felt from globalization may prevent the U.S. from acting with the needed subtlety and nuance to succeed in a world lacking sharply defined good guys and bad guys. Though often repetitious, the narrative features solid discussions of the changing nature of sovereignty, the power of the Federal Reserve, and the shifting geopolitical views of nations over the past decades. The U.S., writes the author, must focus on the globalized 21st-century countries and temper its obsession with the Middle East.

Goldberg’s writing occasionally plods, and his lengthy quotations from other sources become tiresome, but he does offer some provocative ideas for policymakers.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1222-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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