A sensible and refreshingly restrained discussion of the nation’s deficiencies.

READ REVIEW

Reclaim American Democracy

ECONOMIC SOLUTIONS TO DYSFUNCTIONAL POLITICS

A sober consideration of the decline of American democracy.

After a hotly disputed presidential election, there’s been much discussion about the fundamental health of the democratic process in the United States. Neff (Vision for America, 2014), an economist, argues that its legitimacy has been thoroughly compromised. The reason: economic inequality. He begins with an analysis of poverty, and he contends that the lack of a living minimum wage forces a considerable number of people into poverty and drives up taxes by compelling a vast number of government programs. He asserts that higher wages, combined with mandatory health insurance, a government-run pension plan, and some other innovations could alleviate these problems. Neff also criticizes the tax code, saying that the richest people and corporations don’t contribute nearly enough in taxes. He then assesses the United States’ malfunctioning political structures, concluding that a two-party system and the gerrymandering of congressional districts has all but ensured divisive partisanship. The result of such rigged political and economic systems, he says, is substantive oligarchy, thinly disguised as democratic opportunity: “For some, freedom means manipulating the system and creating opportunities in their favor, as a way to achieve success for themselves,” he notes. “The result will be an unbalanced society that is destroying the democratic system.” Neff’s prose is crystal-clear, even-tempered, and free of the ad hominem attacks that typically infect political tracts. That said, this is certainly a partisan book, although the author does candidly state his liberal point of view. It’s also a short book—less than 150 pages long—and Neff simply tries to pack too much into it, resulting in overly condensed arguments that flirt with oversimplification. For example, a section on private prisons seems possibly unnecessary, and another on the philosophical roots of libertarianism is, at best, a threadbare account. However, Neff does provide lucid, reasonable solutions to real problems, and that alone makes this book a worthwhile contribution.

A sensible and refreshingly restrained discussion of the nation’s deficiencies.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4787-7795-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more