A suggestive essay in demographics and political trends.

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THE THEFT OF A DECADE

HOW THE BABY BOOMERS STOLE THE MILLENNIALS' ECONOMIC FUTURE

Of spendthrift elders and strapped youth, their respective lots accidents of birth mixed with a hefty dose of politics.

Born in 1982, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Sternberg immediately indicates his thesis in the subtitle: The economic habits of the baby boomer generation, born “between the end of World War II and the introduction of the birth control pill,” will weigh forever on later generations. In 2020, millennials will be more numerous than boomers, but boomers will nevertheless be a burden for decades to come, draining social welfare funds even as their younger counterparts struggle to foot the bill. For the last decade, writes the author, “the main entitlement trend has been that Millennials are losing the ability to pay for these benefits. The evaporation of a political willingness to pay won’t be far behind.” Numerous trends contribute to this situation, foremost the fact that many millennials are outside the normal job track, having come of age during the Great Recession and never having been able to catch up. Sternberg’s account opens with the rather frivolous example of the price of avocado toast, but it builds on more substantial turf, including the elusiveness of the dream of owning a home, finding a meaningful way to participate in the workforce, and saving money for future needs. As it is, he writes, millennials have been staying in school (and in their parents’ homes), at great cost not just to themselves, but to the larger economy. Sternberg’s argument is made without rancor, but parts of it seem misplaced: The chief enemies of the millennials would seem to be structural and predate the earlier birth cohort. However, he also makes the good point that people born into times of plenty behave economically differently from those born into times of want, with the result that members of the younger group "appear to be the most financially cautious generation since the cohort who grew up in the middle of the Great Depression.”

A suggestive essay in demographics and political trends.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5417-4236-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Readers would do well to heed the dark warning that this book conveys.

A WARNING

The nameless resister inside the White House speaks.

“The character of one man has widened the chasms of American political division,” writes Anonymous. Indeed. The Trump years will not be remembered well—not by voters, not by history since the man in charge “couldn’t focus on governing, and he was prone to abuses of power, from ill-conceived schemes to punish his political rivals to a propensity for undermining vital American institutions.” Given all that, writes the author, and given Trump’s bizarre behavior and well-known grudges—e.g., he ordered that federal flags be raised to full staff only a day after John McCain died, an act that insiders warned him would be construed as petty—it was only patriotic to try to save the country from the man even as the resistance movement within the West Wing simultaneously tried to save Trump’s presidency. However, that they tried did not mean they succeeded: The warning of the title consists in large part of an extended observation that Trump has removed the very people most capable of guiding him to correct action, and the “reasonable professionals” are becoming ever fewer in the absence of John Kelly and others. So unwilling are those professionals to taint their reputations by serving Trump, in fact, that many critical government posts are filled by “acting” secretaries, directors, and so forth. And those insiders abetting Trump are shrinking in number even as Trump stumbles from point to point, declaring victory over the Islamic State group (“People are going to fucking die because of this,” said one top aide) and denouncing the legitimacy of the process that is now grinding toward impeachment. However, writes the author, removal from office is not the answer, not least because Trump may not leave without trying to stir up a civil war. Voting him out is the only solution, writes Anonymous; meanwhile, we’re stuck with a president whose acts, by the resisters’ reckoning, are equal parts stupid, illegal, or impossible to enact.

Readers would do well to heed the dark warning that this book conveys.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1846-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 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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