Sure to distress the neoliberals in the audience but a powerful case for reform in the cause of economic justice.

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THE DIVIDE

GLOBAL INEQUALITY FROM CONQUEST TO FREE MARKETS

A sharply argued analysis of the traditional explanations for wealth and poverty in the world, offering a program for easing misery while addressing structural inequalities.

Hickel (Anthropology/London School of Economics; Democracy as Death: The Moral Order of Anti-Liberal Politics in South Africa, 2015, etc.) examines the conventional wisdom that holds that the reasons parts of the world are rich and parts poor have to do with comparative advantage, supply and demand, distribution of labor and capital, and market conditions, with the rich ones having “the right institutions and the right economic policies” and the poor ones being alms-begging basket cases because of some supposed natural order of things. While global inequality mirrors the inequality of wealth within economies, the gap is widening ever more rapidly between rich and poor countries, such that the gulf between per capita incomes in the global North and the global South “has roughly tripled in size since 1960.” Even the beginning of that era wasn’t as bad as the 1980s, a period that the Millennium Development Goals program of the United Nations overlooks, training all development specialists “to forget everything that happened before 1990.” Hickel, though, isn’t inclined to forget, and one of the things to which he ascribes at least some measure of Western wealth is unpaid labor over hundreds of years in the form of slavery, which added nearly $100 trillion to the coffers of the United States alone. “Why do poor countries have an abundance of labor in the first place?” asks the author, answering himself with the observation that under colonial rule, indigenous economies were overturned in favor of dependent ones even as their resources were carted off to the capitals of Europe and North America. Hickel proposes several remedies, including debt relief, tax rationalization, and putting an end to land grabs, all meant to level the playing field.

Sure to distress the neoliberals in the audience but a powerful case for reform in the cause of economic justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-65136-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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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