A common-sensical look at ways to refocus, overcome our dependence on things and build greater resilience in to our lives.

LIBERTY FOR ALL

A MANIFESTO FOR RECLAIMING FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL FREEDOM

Yahoo Finance columnist Newman (Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success, 2012, etc.) argues that middle-class Americans must become more self-reliant to achieve financial freedom.

Made complacent by the post–World War II economic expansion, many of us have gotten caught up in a “liberty trap,” in which we are “falling behind, placing blame, waiting for help” rather than taking individual action to raise our living standards and improve our lives. When sustenance comes from elsewhere, it “dulls the instincts needed to provide it for yourself.” Writing in a conversational style, Newman considers the challenges facing middle-class families in the wake of the recent housing bust, financial collapse and near-depression, and he explores possible solutions that rely on individual grit and ingenuity. He chronicles his weekend in the Catskills with a group of New York City preppers (seeking skills to survive disasters, not doomsday), examines the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle, and audits his own dependencies on technology and infrastructure, professional services, manufactured goods, health providers and other modern conveniences so often taken for granted. Hurricane Sandy and other disasters have shown that we are “too dependent on systems and strangers.” Newman concludes that the main things we need are not the physical skills that can be acquired on a wilderness weekend but rather the mental and psychological preparation that empowers us to act. Instead of waiting for more entitlements, we must build stronger communities offering mutual assistance, become more engaged in local affairs, reduce our consumption, assess our vulnerabilities and admit we don’t know everything (so that we can learn).

A common-sensical look at ways to refocus, overcome our dependence on things and build greater resilience in to our lives.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-137-27936-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“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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