A provocative case, and one that those who feel undervalued in the present economy will surely appreciate.

THE PROFIT PARADOX

HOW THRIVING FIRMS THREATEN THE FUTURE OF WORK

A sharply argued thesis that one effect of all-powerful corporations is the suppression of wages for working people across the board.

Productivity has risen markedly since 1980, writes Barcelona-based economist Eeckhout, “yet what most workers get in exchange for producing that output has not kept up.” Indeed, wages have fallen, especially for “unskilled workers” and those without a college education. Even skilled professionals are losing ground. Meanwhile, corporations such as Amazon and Google have become near monopolies. The labor share of the economy, as Eeckhout puts it formally—though this book requires no background in economics to understand—was about 65% in 1980 and is below 58% today. “A decline of seven percentage points—or 10 percent—may seem tiny,” he adds, “but that includes the earnings of…top earners, and not just the low-paid workers.” Given the inequalities in today’s winner-take-all economy, workers understandably feel that they have no stake in the game and no vested interest in seeing that the system is maintained, giving rise to political unrest. In a novel, intriguing argument, Eeckhout holds that Amazon and other monopolies could well afford to lower their costs, which would mean more volume, yet they keep their prices high in order to curb demand and keep labor costs down while maintaining market power. The author notes that whereas the two largest retailers before the Depression, Sears and A&P, had a market share of just 3%, Walmart and Amazon today “account for 15 percent of retail sales.” Yet antitrust regulators, as well as politicians of all stripes, are silent. Eeckhout proposes that existing antitrust laws be brought to bear to force higher wages as well as to pry data from the hands of corporations and back into the purview of the consumers who generate it.

A provocative case, and one that those who feel undervalued in the present economy will surely appreciate.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-691-21447-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

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

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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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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