Erudite, well-wrought, and finely expressed in short bursts of creativity; at times poetic and philosophical, even as the...

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Meadowlark Economics

EXPLORING VALUES FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

This collection of thoughtful essays weaves together economic and ecological issues.

While Eggert (Greenspan’s Anguish: Thoreau as Economic Prophet and Other Selected Essays, 2015, etc.) is an economist by trade, he is struck by the relationship between economics and ecology. “I believe these two households are becoming more interdependent,” he writes, “and their futures more and more intimately linked.” Indeed, each of the 20 elegantly written essays in this revised collection, originally published in 2009, has a strong eco-conscious component. The unusual title is derived from the author’s concern over the Midwest’s loss of meadowlarks; somewhat esoterically, he translates this occurrence into “meadowlark values,” suggesting that a “meadowlark economist” must “seriously try and incorporate an ecological consciousness and ecological values along with market thinking and market values.” Eggert’s essays are as soaring and aspirational as they are instructional and practical. For example, in “What’s Wrong with Capitalism?” he notes there is “a destructive quality in capitalism that often violates the ecological laws that can and should ensure life’s beauty, balance, health and long-term continuity.” In “The Coming Repair Age,” Eggert cautions about energy: “Common sense tells us there simply must be an end to our wastefulness, and that we cannot continue our gross consuming habits for the long run.” In perhaps his most novel essay, “Wal-Mart Pond,” Eggert cleverly combines ecology and economy by imagining a conversation with Henry Thoreau. The fictional dialogue moves from the famed naturalist’s concerns about modern society—“Believe me sir, you don’t need shopping malls”—to Eggert’s financial counsel about tax deductions: “You might argue that anything a poet, a philosopher, anything a writer like yourself purchases is part of what one might say: ‘operating their business.’ ” His final essay, “Quartet,” is most worthy of contemplation: “what is our part in the ‘music’ of the cosmos, what is our role in the harmony of nature’s variations on a theme?”

Erudite, well-wrought, and finely expressed in short bursts of creativity; at times poetic and philosophical, even as the author remains firmly planted on terra firma. 

Pub Date: July 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63-490554-1

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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