A well-designed initiative to redress the villainization of marijuana.

MARIJUANA IS SAFER

SO WHY ARE WE DRIVING PEOPLE TO DRINK?: UPDATED AND EXPANDED EDITION

A sensible approach to the legalization of marijuana that pits the plant against alcohol, from Fox and Tvert (Marijuana Policy Project) and Armentano (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

It’s not rocket science: Alcohol puts more people in the hospital or graveyard than marijuana. If our laws are meant to prevent harm to others, then what harm are we trying to prevent by the illegalization of marijuana? In fact, making marijuana illegal absurdly inflates its value and encourages violent crime to command its distribution. The sources of marijuana’s illegalization are vile, rather easily traceable to bigoted attitudes toward Mexicans and African-Americans. Certainly, there are moments in this otherwise thoughtful and policy-driven initiative that veer perilously close to demonizing alcohol in the same manner that marijuana has been demonized. Is it really universal that “[w]hen low to moderate levels of alcohol are consumed, complex mental faculties such as memory, concentration, and judgment are affected, as well as one’s mood and motor coordination”? To what degree? Doesn’t a toke or two get you fried? Occasionally, the authors address any study calling marijuana to the table with, “though this finding remains controversial and inconclusive,” while accepting as gospel studies that, for instance, report any alcohol consumption by women increases cancer, which should require a caveat. Thinking people—the book’s target audience—will feel this condescension. Regardless, the authors’ argument that marijuana is the safer of the two recreational intoxicants is rock solid, and one can see that this everyday, common-sense comparison would be an effective tool in changing public perception, manipulated as it has been by everyone from Nancy Reagan to the great brewing concerns. The authors end with a workable proposal for a grass-roots response, complete with talking points and ready answers to FAQs, to bring the issue to the ballot.

A well-designed initiative to redress the villainization of marijuana.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60358-510-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Chelsea Green

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

more