An inspiring, provocative encouragement to younger generations to exercise political clout.

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CONFESSIONS OF AN OLD MAN

HOW MILLENNIALS ARE BEING ROBBED

A spirited critique of American politicians’ treatment of younger generations, and a plan of action for youth empowerment. 

According to Moon (The Beltway Beast, 2014), a 65-year-old former financial industry executive and father of three, his generation’s stewardship of American democracy has been a moral disgrace. Its greatest victim, he says, is the “MI generation,” which includes millennials and the “iGeneration,” defined as “those born after 1998.” The current crop of American political leaders, he says, has given MIs a dangerous environmental policy, a widening chasm of economic inequality, and a toxic culture of rigid partisanship. The author particularly focuses on the damage caused by student-loan debt and an incoherent health care system. In both cases, he asserts, industries are permitted to engender unchecked hyperinflation. The United States government makes billions in profit annually from student loans, he says, which threatens to financially cripple an entire younger generation. And the health care system, he writes, seems designed to deliver the most onerous costs and the most limited choice. He does offer good news, though, noting that the MI generation is loaded with talent and diversity, that it has a penchant for entrepreneurial and technological innovation, and that it will soon become a dominant voting bloc. Moon recommends a political-action plan that focuses on winning vulnerable congressional seats and offers a set of criteria for selecting suitable candidates. Despite admitting his “guilt, frustration, and anger” at the current state of things at the outset of this book, the author supplies a surprisingly sober analysis—one that’s consistently reasonable and pragmatic. He also avoids obvious partisan allegiances, dispensing plenty of criticism for both major parties and decrying an electoral system that makes it extraordinarily hard for a candidate outside the two-party system to prosper. That said, this is a very brief study that covers an expansive stretch of political terrain, and as a result, some of the arguments, particularly in the sections on health care and student debt, are more exacting than others; a section on foreign policy is sensible but covers familiar ground. Overall, though, this is an intelligent call for practical reform.

An inspiring, provocative encouragement to younger generations to exercise political clout. 

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9913721-5-7

Page Count: 152

Publisher: MGN Books

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2018

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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