A provocative call to restore economic competition by dismantling the ruling plutocracy.

The title says it all: The major corporations are milking us dry, and the problem is getting worse as they flout “the rules that democracies create to protect their citizens.”

How do monopolies suck? Let Hubbard, the director of enforcement strategy at the Open Markets Institute, count the ways: They’re anti-democratic, they crush competition and hamper innovation, they’re destroying the planet, and so forth. “We blame the economy for our financial struggles,” she writes, “but the economy is doing just fine. The problem is that the ultrarich are hoarding its spoils.” The game is rigged from the start, though those spoils have been increasingly rolling into the vaults of the mega-wealthy ever since the Reagan years, when the interests of the middle class were jettisoned in favor of the predatory capitalism of today. Hubbard clearly shows how monopolies are established in numerous ways. For instance, in the matter of internet access, very few consumers have a choice between more than two providers, “meaning broadband providers can charge monopoly prices in most of America.” Where municipalities have provided broadband, as in the case of Chattanooga, lobbyists have pressed to quash this “unfair” competition legally. In another instance, four leading poultry producers conspired to fix prices, costing families an average of $330 extra per year—and that’s just poultry. Monopolistic corporations gather consumer data (see: Amazon, Google, Facebook), parasitize the economy (“Walmart employees make up the single largest group of food stamp recipients in many states”), and promote inequality and “inequities in our society, like structural racism and patriarchy.” Hubbard’s argument is convincing without being overbearing. Usefully, she also makes the case that monopolies have been broken before in American history (think Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting) and that there are anti-monopolistic tools already available to federal enforcers—if only they would use them.

A provocative call to restore economic competition by dismantling the ruling plutocracy.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982149-70-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


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

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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011


A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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