This intriguing but limited Democratic agenda focuses on a pro-business economic platform.



A political work offers a new vision for the Democratic Party centered on economic opportunities for the middle class.

“Had Democrats been successful in prioritizing and implementing” an economic agenda focused on middle-class Americans, Fisher and James contend, “the economic impact of COVID-19 would have been far less.” Fisher, a New York City real estate entrepreneur and co-chair of the governor’s Regional Economic Development Council, and James, the former mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, are not Donald Trump supporters, but they save their harshest critiques for their own party. Rather than developing a long-term plan to help middle-class Americans, today’s Democratic politicians too often lean on “the public’s revulsion to Trump” as the center of their electoral strategy. In place of the party’s vague, anti-Trump approach, the authors propose an “Opportunity Agenda” revolving around economic uplift for the middle class. Believing that Americans elected Trump out of “their frustration with a brain-dead government,” the authors contend that a new generation of “Opportunity Democrats” who prioritize the economic needs of the middle class has the potential to revitalize America. They note, for instance, that Crawfordsville, Indiana, a nearly all-White, blue-collar town that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, has a “glaring lack of affordable childcare.” Government-supported day care, paid family leave, and other policies geared toward working families would have an immediate economic impact on small towns like Crawfordsville. Other items listed in their innovative agenda include a “new paradigm” in public education that emphasizes skills-based training, infrastructure improvements, and portable benefits that provide a safety net in today’s gig economy. Though the authors’ ambitious and cogent ideas will appeal to independents and moderate Democrats, many liberals may be put off by the book’s use of phrases like “return on investment” and its embrace of businesses (one idea, for example, is corporate control over high school curriculums in order to produce skilled laborers that best serve industry needs). In addition, some Democrats and independents may be unhappy that the social injustices clearly highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement—including systemic racism, police brutality, and mass incarceration—are left out of the authors’ plan.

This intriguing but limited Democratic agenda focuses on a pro-business economic platform. (acknowledgments, author bios, endnotes, index)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64543-081-0

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Amplify Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2020

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.


Essays on current political topics by a high-profile actor and activist.

Milano explains in an introduction that she began writing this uneven collection while dealing with a severe case of Covid-19 and suffering from "persistent brain fog.” In the first essay, "On Being Unapologetically Fucked Up,” the author begins by fuming over a February 2019 incident in which she compared MAGA caps worn by high school kids to KKK hoods. She then runs through a grab bag of flash-point news items (police shootings, border crimes, sexual predators in government), deploying the F-bomb with abandon and concluding, "What I know is that fucked up is as fundamental a state of the world as night and day. But I know there is better. I know that ‘less fucked up’ is a state we can live in.” The second essay, "Believe Women," discusses Milano’s seminal role in the MeToo movement; unfortunately, it is similarly conversational in tone and predictable in content. One of the few truly personal essays, "David," about the author's marriage, refutes the old saw about love meaning never having to say you're sorry, replacing it with "Love means you can suggest a national sex strike and your husband doesn't run away screaming." Milano assumes, perhaps rightly, that her audience is composed of followers and fans; perhaps these readers will know what she is talking about in the seemingly allegorical "By Any Other Name," about her bad experience with a certain rosebush. "Holy shit, giving birth sucked," begins one essay. "Words are weird, right?" begins the next. "Welp, this is going to piss some of you off. Hang in there," opens a screed about cancel culture—though she’s entirely correct that “it’s childish, divisive, conceited, and Trumpian to its core.” By the end, however, Milano's intelligence, compassion, integrity, and endurance somewhat compensate for her lack of literary polish.

The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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