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

MONOPOLIES SUCK

7 WAYS BIG CORPORATIONS RULE YOUR LIFE AND HOW TO TAKE BACK CONTROL

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. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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