THE NEW POLITICS OF POVERTY

THE NONWORKING POOR IN AMERICA

A surprising follow-up to Mead's advocacy of ``workfare'' (jobs rather than welfare) in Beyond Entitlement (1986), offering analysis of social and political trends that support his position- -while granting some unexpected points to his liberal opponents. Mead (Politics/NYU) blames most poverty since 1960 on the breakdown in the work ethic among the poor, which, he says, has resulted in a ``politics of dependency.'' In several chapters refuting the usual explanations for the poor's lower work rates, the author summarizes his earlier arguments and those of other experts (notably William Julius Wilson) with balance and fairness. Mead's central question is whether society should enforce an assumption that everyone is competent to work or, instead, should accommodate the ``special inhibitions of the poor.'' To his credit, he now grasps the nettle of the ``new paternalism'' at the core of his earlier workfare prescription. ``Human Nature,'' the heart of Mead's argument, includes some insights unusual in conservative commentary: ``A large part of today's poor might well be described as people, or the descendants of people, who did not really choose to come to America''; and, ``There is nothing inherently superior about Western culture.'' Also surprising is his outlook for liberals: Welfare recipients, he says, may become more activist as they join the working world, with a resulting shift to the left in national politics. With socialism now in disfavor, though, Mead seems to project ``conservatism with a human face'' as the dominant political trend. Mead tries hard to explain the poor's evident fatalism and passivity and the fact that almost none of their advocates are themselves poor, but his analysis relies almost entirely on high- level statistical surveys and political analysis that sometimes appear to be out of touch with the realities of individual lives.

Pub Date: April 22, 1992

ISBN: 0-465-05962-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1992

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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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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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