An exhilarating record of intellectual engagement.

THE VANISHING AMERICAN DREAM

A FRANK LOOK AT THE ECONOMIC REALITIES FACING MIDDLE- AND LOWER-INCOME AMERICANS

A work focuses on a symposium devoted to diagnosing and curing the socioeconomic ailments that plague the lower and middle classes in America.

According to Ludwig, the editor of this volume and the organizer of the discussions at Yale Law School it documents, the lower and middle classes in the United States are desperately falling behind. They are the victims of an “economic tsunami” ravaging them for some time, the effects thrown into grimly sharp relief by the recent pandemic, of which they are “bearing the brunt of the burden.” The crisis is sometimes obscured by an overemphasis on standard economic indices, like the gross domestic product, which fails to capture the heart of the problem. Stagnating and even declining wages and a dearth of employment opportunities as well as the rising costs of basic necessities like shelter, education, and health care have left many in the nation embattled. In spring 2019, Ludwig brought together an impressive assemblage of luminaries to discuss this issue, culled from academia, government, and the world of commerce, including Lawrence H. Summers, the economist, former secretary of the Treasury, and former president of Harvard; Deval Patrick—the former Massachusetts governor, who delivered the keynote address—and Sarah Bloom Raskin, the former deputy secretary of the Treasury. The discussion is subdivided into three panels that investigate the nature of the problem, the possible responses at the national level, and the possible strategies at the local level. The editor not only brings together an accomplished coterie of participants, but also a diverse one. The highlights often involve the principled disagreement among the speakers, exchanges that manage to be edifying, spirited, and unfailingly civil, no small feat in the currently overcharged political climate. Furthermore, the topics touched on are wide-ranging, including the impact of technology on inequality, the exclusivity of elite education, macroeconomic strategies for increasing employment, and the rise of White nationalism and populism. In this lively and engrossing work, Ludwig presents a model of public discourse—informed, multidisciplinary, and shorn of myopic ideological commitments.

An exhilarating record of intellectual engagement.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63331-044-5

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Disruption Books

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2020

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A cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.

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TEN LESSONS FOR A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

The CNN host and bestselling author delivers a pithy roundup of some of the inevitable global changes that will follow the current pandemic.

Examining issues both obvious and subtler, Zakaria sets out how and why the world has changed forever. The speed with which the Covid-19 virus spread around the world was shocking, and the fallout has been staggering. In fact, writes the author, “it may well turn out that this viral speck will cause the greatest economic, political, and social damage to humankind since World War II.” The U.S., in particular, was exposed as woefully unprepared, as government leadership failed to deliver a clear, practical message, and the nation’s vaunted medical institutions were caught flat-footed: "Before the pandemic…Americans might have taken solace in the country’s great research facilities or the huge amounts of money spent on health care, while forgetting about the waste, complexity and deeply unequal access that mark it as well." While American leaders wasted months denying the seriousness of Covid-19 and ignoring the advice of medical experts, other countries—e.g., South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan—acted swiftly and decisively, underscoring one of the author's main themes and second lesson: "What matters is not the quantity of government but the quality.” Discussing how “markets are not enough,” the author astutely shoots down the myth that throwing money at the problem can fix the situation; as such, he predicts a swing toward more socialist-friendly policies. Zakaria also delves into the significance of the digital economy, the resilience of cities (see the success of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei in suppressing the virus), the deepening of economic inequality around the world, how the pandemic has exacerbated the rift between China and the U.S. (and will continue to do so), and why “people should listen to the experts—and experts should listen to the people."

A cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-54213-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Readers would do well to heed the dark warning that this book conveys.

A WARNING

The nameless resister inside the White House speaks.

“The character of one man has widened the chasms of American political division,” writes Anonymous. Indeed. The Trump years will not be remembered well—not by voters, not by history since the man in charge “couldn’t focus on governing, and he was prone to abuses of power, from ill-conceived schemes to punish his political rivals to a propensity for undermining vital American institutions.” Given all that, writes the author, and given Trump’s bizarre behavior and well-known grudges—e.g., he ordered that federal flags be raised to full staff only a day after John McCain died, an act that insiders warned him would be construed as petty—it was only patriotic to try to save the country from the man even as the resistance movement within the West Wing simultaneously tried to save Trump’s presidency. However, that they tried did not mean they succeeded: The warning of the title consists in large part of an extended observation that Trump has removed the very people most capable of guiding him to correct action, and the “reasonable professionals” are becoming ever fewer in the absence of John Kelly and others. So unwilling are those professionals to taint their reputations by serving Trump, in fact, that many critical government posts are filled by “acting” secretaries, directors, and so forth. And those insiders abetting Trump are shrinking in number even as Trump stumbles from point to point, declaring victory over the Islamic State group (“People are going to fucking die because of this,” said one top aide) and denouncing the legitimacy of the process that is now grinding toward impeachment. However, writes the author, removal from office is not the answer, not least because Trump may not leave without trying to stir up a civil war. Voting him out is the only solution, writes Anonymous; meanwhile, we’re stuck with a president whose acts, by the resisters’ reckoning, are equal parts stupid, illegal, or impossible to enact.

Readers would do well to heed the dark warning that this book conveys.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1846-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

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