A strident critique of the left.



A debut political book identifies the dangerous spread of progressive policies in the United States.

Leftist policies are ascendant in the Democratic Party. Liberals are promising voters free medical care, education, food, and housing while arguing that compassion demands that the United States allow millions of illegal immigrants to enter the country. In reality, Merlo asserts, the Democrats are just trying to import new voters to help them turn America into a socialist country—or, worse, a member state in some sort of socialist world government. The author explains the origins of the American left and how it has merged with the Democratic Party, playing upon the resentments of persecuted groups—women, racial minorities, LGBTQ, and the poor—to encourage violence, reopen wounds, and subvert the capitalist order. He then shows the adverse effects of the left’s social policies, some of which are based on questionable findings. He blames the current political state on the nation’s pernicious anti-intellectualism: “Unfortunately, America seems to have rejected aristocracy at the same time it renounced monarchy, and replaced it with antiintellectualism….Intellectually-gifted students are often mocked, and the pretty girls prefer Mr. Touchdown.” Interestingly, Merlo makes a number of arguments that would seem to paint him as an anti-intellectual, or at least someone ill-informed. He claims that Muslims should not be allowed to immigrate in large numbers to the United States because some Muslim men will be driven to assault and rape by the sight of scantily clad American women. He also contends that some of these same women are accusing flirtatious men of impropriety, costing them their careers. Merlo’s prose attempts to present itself as objective but it is filled with odd and sometimes controversial asides: “The resurgence of TB among homosexuals and drug-users (homosexuals are especially likely to use drugs while having sex) was predictable, but, ignored in the name of sympathy for Haitians.” The ambitious book is well-researched and the author includes numerous quotes from other sources. But he sometimes inserts them into the text without full explanations (“I think the alt-left folks are working toward now…chaos, anarchy, and regime overthrow…and we should be alert to their intentions”), referring the audience to a Bibliography. The work ends up reading more like a blog post rant than a polished work of nonfiction.

A strident critique of the left.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4897-1994-2

Page Count: 92

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2019

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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. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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