Essential for anyone who creates or works with what the old laws once called “the tangible expression of ideas”—a...

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HOT PROPERTY

THE STEALING OF IDEAS IN AN AGE OF GLOBALIZATION

Fluent arguments against those who maintain that ripping a borrowed CD or pirating a video is a victimless crime.

At the micro level, such acts are not necessarily world-ending. And doesn’t Hollywood make enough money already? Perhaps, but, onetime Ross Perot running mate and long-time Washington insider Choate (The High-Flex Society, 1986) writes, consider that in China, the world’s largest single market, the largest legal film distributor sold 300,000 copies of Titanic, whereas pirates sold something like 25 million of them. Similarly, in Russia three out of four recordings are pirated, in eastern Europe only one of four software packages is legally licensed, and in Italy (and Washington, for that matter), buying fakes is now a fashion statement. The economic implications are enormous, costing Americans jobs and lots of money. (What’s more, think what would happen if airplanes started using pirated or faked parts, Choate suggests just before offering statistics on how many planes in the U.S. have crashed for just that reason.) Choate goes on to present a vigorous and to-the-point summary of the history of copyright and other intellectual property laws in the U.S., which, he argues, have been economic engines in their own right, rewarding innovation and ingenuity while allowing public-domain provisions to assure the general good. In that light, Choate examines current models of protection, designed to serve the interests of wealthy corporations, not individual inventors. He observes, for instance, that present law locks up economically dead material along with material that lives on and on, such as the song “Happy Birthday,” which should have fallen into the public domain in 1991 but was given a term extension to 2009, the better to enrich Time Warner. To liberate this material, as the framers of the Constitution would have wished, Choate proposes a flexible program that would both protect rights owners and “quickly move copyrighted works into the public domain after their commercial life is ended.”

Essential for anyone who creates or works with what the old laws once called “the tangible expression of ideas”—a significant readership, that is, in the Knowledge Economy.

Pub Date: April 30, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-40212-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2005

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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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Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

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CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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