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LIMITARIANISM

THE CASE AGAINST EXTREME WEALTH

A caustic but balanced attack offers an equitable economic compromise.

A withering critique of the ethical, moral, and fiscal harms of unlimited wealth concentration.

Robeyns, who holds the chair in ethics of institutions at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, proposes to clamp a lid on extreme wealth. She details where to draw the line on how much any individual might possess ($10 million), how to legislate such a wealth cap, and what to do with the billions in new tax earnings that could be employed to vastly better use; she marshals irrefutable evidence to support many of her conclusions. Despite the accusations of anti-capitalist propaganda that conservatives level against this point of view, the author is largely persuasive in locating the many sources of gross inequity and human rights violations linked to obscene wealth. Robeyns describes numerous measures that should be taken by governments in the name of fairness and fiscal justice. Limiting what is often the useless hoarding of inert wealth and trying to achieve a fair outcome for as many people as possible is an exceedingly desirable concept, but it also flies in the face of human nature and the allure of greed. The idea does not seem attainable outside of a perfect society. One suspects that, even within democratic societies, enforcing the limitation (much less elimination) of such financial inequalities would require draconian measures under current circumstances. This is not to say that matters couldn’t be improved to a considerable extent, as Robeyns demonstrates. Still, it’s one thing to theorize in academe, proposing well-thought-out solutions, but quite another to implement them against titanic opposition, which the author freely admits. No absolutist, she’s not against earned wealth, up to a point, but rather unearned or “dirty” money. Yet strategies that work so well in small nations don’t necessarily translate to massive economies.

A caustic but balanced attack offers an equitable economic compromise.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781662601842

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Astra House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

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Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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