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

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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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