Articulate, loaded with informative details, especially timely, and bound to leave the reader reaching for a bottle of...

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CRISIS IN U.S. HEALTH CARE

CORPORATE POWER VS. THE COMMON GOOD

A book examines all aspects of medical care in the United States and how it has changed over the past 60 years.

Geyman (The Human Face of ObamaCare, 2016, etc.) graduated from medical school in 1956. During the subsequent 60 years, he has garnered experience as a rural family physician, a teacher and administrator in three medical schools, and an editor of family medicine journals. He has watched as corporate health behemoths have swallowed up family practice, the traditional bedrock of the relationship between physician and patient: “Family medicine, as the direct descendent of general practice, taking care of patients regardless of age, comprises less than 10 percent of the country’s physician workforce.” The service ethic of medicine, Geyman declares, has been replaced with the “business ethic,” and the result is poorer patient care. Another serious problem he addresses is the skyrocketing cost of health care. High insurance deductibles, extraordinarily escalating pharmaceutical prices, and a tendency on the part of physicians to order excessive tests and procedures to increase compensation have put basic medical care out of reach for millions of Americans. Geyman cites several breathtaking examples regarding prescription costs: the drug Hetlioz, used to treat sleep disorders, costs $148,000 per year. And “hospitals and pharmacies found the prices they had to pay for a bottle of 500 tablets of Doxycycline, a decades-old antibiotic, rose in just six months in 2014 from $20 to $1,849!” This accessible, comprehensive book makes a strong case for a complete overhaul of the U.S. health care system. No fan of the Affordable Care Act, which he says has failed to reduce costs and is a boondoggle for corporate interests, Geyman concludes that the only viable alternative is a single-payer system: “Today’s health care system, serving its corporate masters more than patients, is unfair, ineffective, inhumane for those left out, and financially unsustainable.” The dense volume is occasionally repetitive but lightened a bit by the inclusion of vignettes from the author’s personal practice. Patient anecdotes and commentaries from copious professional sources are compelling.

Articulate, loaded with informative details, especially timely, and bound to leave the reader reaching for a bottle of aspirin.     

Pub Date: March 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-938218-15-6

Page Count: 358

Publisher: BCH Fulfillment and Distribution

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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