by Gary Rivlin ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 18, 2022
Compelling stories at the intersection of entrepreneurial aspirations, personal obligations, and public policy.
A Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist reports on how small-business owners in northeast Pennsylvania—and one in New York City—weathered the challenges posed by the pandemic.
In the best of times, running a small business is a precarious proposition; the pandemic made it nearly impossible. In early 2020, Rivlin, author of Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.―How the Working Poor Became Big Business, among other books, set out to document how a handful of businesses dealt with the precipitous decline in customers, unrelenting mortgage and utility bills, and costs that escalated as supply chains faltered. Among others, these include Vilma’s Hair Salon, Cusumano’s Italian restaurant, Lech’s Pharmacy, J.R.’s Hallmark, and Sol Cacao, a chocolate bar business. During the pandemic, owners worried about their employees and rethought their businesses. They navigated shifting shutdown orders and mask mandates and applied for financial assistance from the federal and state governments. Making matters worse was the lack of a “coordinated federal plan”; each state made its own rules. In addition, there were the constant threats posed by large restaurant and pharmaceutical chains, retail behemoths such as Walmart, and, of course, Amazon. These large corporations not only undercut their prices; they also gutted the downtown centers that brought in customers. Politicians might celebrate small businesses for being essential to living in a community and for embodying the independent spirit that ostensibly defines the American character, but economic policy always favors big business. That many businesses survived was due, in part, to the loyalty of employees and customers, the support of local business associations, and governmental grants and loans that carried them through the worst of the pandemic. For Rivlin, though, most important were business owners’ “creativity and fortitude,” the tenacity and improvisational talent to get the job done.Compelling stories at the intersection of entrepreneurial aspirations, personal obligations, and public policy.
Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Harper Business
Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022
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by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...
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
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
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by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
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
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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