by John B. Taylor ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 23, 2012
Save the cost of the book and listen to a speech by just about any of this year’s crop of GOP candidates.
Former treasury undersecretary Taylor (Economics/Stanford Univ.; Getting Off Track: How Government Actions and Interventions Caused, Prolonged, and Worsened the Financial Crisis, 2009, etc.) looks to get back to the good old days “of economic freedom upon which the country was founded.”
These “first principles” are merely the ones of unrestricted free trade, meaning without pesky regulation and without government intervention or interference. Wave a wand and return to that, and voilà: “we can restore America’s prosperity and our confidence in the future.” It’s up to the worker who wants to be competitive to secure the skills and education necessary to the task, all a matter of incentives and rewards. But what if such a worker finds his or her job outsourced to Asia? To do anything in the way of protecting a job would be “interventionism,” while efforts to even out some of the turbulence of the so-called free market constitute dreaded and despised “short-term Keynesian discretionary” remedies. Taylor fair-mindedly notes that Republican and Democratic presidents alike have been more interventionist than less; readers who do not remember Richard Nixon’s experiments in wage-and-price freezes, for instance, may be surprised to realize how, well, socialistic they seem in today’s context. And the author is surely right to point out that the flaws in the banking system were far deeper than a mere bailout could fix, adding, “The extraordinary bailout measures that began with Bear Stearns before the panic were the most harmful interventions.” Yet Taylor’s neolibertarian prescriptions seem more dogmatic than helpful, his attacks on health-care reform a species of I’ve-got-mine privilege. His befuddlement at the thought that the Chinese government might jail vendors for selling nonorganic pork as organic (“there was no safety issue”) hints at a failure to connect with the world outside the pages of Ayn Rand, to say nothing of grasping the concept of truth in advertising.Save the cost of the book and listen to a speech by just about any of this year’s crop of GOP candidates.
Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2012
Page Count: 224
Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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.
“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
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019
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