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THE NEW CHINA PLAYBOOK

BEYOND SOCIALISM AND CAPITALISM

Mixing research with personal experience, Jin offers critical insights about the future of China and its global impact.

A respected academic provides a nuanced examination of China’s past, present, and future.

China has always been difficult for many Westerners to understand, but the issue has become increasingly crucial as the country’s global role has grown. Jin, who grew up in China and retains strong connections there, was educated in the U.S. and is now a professor at the London School of Economics. With this background, she is well qualified to play the role of cultural interpreter. She has a special interest in the problems now emerging in China as the society struggles to move from an unremitting focus on economic growth to quality-of-life and equity issues. Jin notes that China’s transition from an impoverished, rural country to a wealthy, urbanized society has been remarkably fast. The private sector has driven the growth, especially in the past two decades, but the government remains firmly in control, with a complex system of incentives, rules, easy credit, and government-owned enterprises. The author traces key policies since the time of Deng, and she delves into the impact of the “one-child policy,” an area often overlooked by armchair commentators. For the most part, the Chinese people are willing to accept government direction, including a high degree of personal surveillance and intervention in their lives. They value security over freedom and generally believe that China requires a powerful central authority. Significantly, the younger generation is in many ways more conservative than their parents despite their taste for Western brands and lifestyles. Jin acknowledges China’s incredible progress but wonders what the future holds. “China’s central leadership, which spurred the most successful economic growth story of our time, could also make choices that might have the opposite effect in the future,” she concludes. “The power of the state provides the system’s greatest potential and also poses its gravest inherent risk.”

Mixing research with personal experience, Jin offers critical insights about the future of China and its global impact.

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781984878281

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

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

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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