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WHY GLOBALIZATION WORKS FOR AMERICA

HOW NATIONALIST TRADE POLICIES ARE DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY

A clear explanation of why globalization is a boon to all countries.

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A look at the benefits of globalization in the 21st century and earlier eras.

In this economics book, Goldberg, an adjunct professor at New York University and the author of The Joint Ventured Nation (2016), provides a concise overview of how economic and political globalization have worked throughout history, and how ideologically driven propaganda and the unequal distribution of benefits have shaped the perception of globalization in today’s United States. Goldberg begins his analysis by taking the long view, focusing on the dominance of the tomato in Italian cuisine, despite its South American origins, as an object lesson and a metaphor for the worldwide transmission of knowledge. The book explores the relative change in the United States’ and China’s positions in the world since 1980, with a particular focus on how both countries have seen economic growth as a result of greater interaction. However, Goldberg also points out that macroeconomic changes have not been evenly distributed across the population. The book explores how foreign investment has driven the U.S. economy since the country issued its first government bonds, as well as how restrictive tariffs have caused economic damage in the past. In the final chapter, the author addresses problems of governance and leadership that have obscured globalization’s benefits in America, identifying key features and trends that have allowed anti-globalization politicians to succeed in driving public opinion and policy.

Goldberg makes an effective argument on behalf of his thesis that globalization is ultimately a force for good, and that the populist objection to its growth is, in fact, damaging: “America’s enemy is not globalization; America’s enemy is America.” He does a fine job of explaining both the benefits and the inevitability of globalization, and he offers readers a useful framework for understanding the distinction between changes related to foreign trade and those related to technological advancement. The book provides a nuanced discussion of “the hard-to-understand but easily exploitable fact that global economics is not a zero-sum game,” while also acknowledging the valid complaints of those who are harmed by an evolving economy. Goldberg notes that there no easy solutions to the problems faced by displaced workers, and that this fosters populist, anti-globalization sentiment that provides no substantive relief. Readers who approach the topic from a populist perspective may wish that Goldberg had offered possible  solutions to displacement and job loss, instead of merely acknowledging that such problems exist. In addition, it’s surprising that the author does not include full citations for the many works that he references over the course of the text. That said, the book does provide enough general information about these sources to give readers confidence in them. On the whole, the book does an good job of distilling a complex issue into manageable components. The prose is strong, for the most part, and although a few analogies feel overwrought (“Northeast Philadelphia...had become a modern-day version of the battle of Agincourt”), it’s consistently informative and highly readable.

A clear explanation of why globalization is a boon to all countries.

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64012-301-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2020

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

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

“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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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