Book Review: Warren rips apart U.S. economic policy

Book Review: Warren rips apart U.S. economic policy

It’s amazing how a few decisions can be so devastating to millions of people. If more people understood deregulation by the government, banking rules, and trade, it would be better for the middle class in the United States.

It doesn’t mean change would be forthcoming, but it might spur dialogue that could lead to change that would help the average American.

That was one of my take aways from listening to Elizabeth Warren’s book This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class (Metropolitan Books, 2017). Plenty of people will not read the book because of the author. That’s too bad. I would like to hear their thoughts about the issues she brings forth. I listened to the book, which was more enjoyable with Warren being the narrator.

Warren gives example after example how decisions in Washington have benefited the top wage earners and hurt the middle class. She does an excellent job of pointing out how corporate profits don’t trickle down.

Her delivery is candid and to the point. She doesn’t mince words. While in some ways the topic is complex, her explanations are easy to understand.

She looks back at the effects of various administrations through the Trump years. It’s a bit of history lesson as well as current civics. While some of the topics have been covered in daily news stories, to have all of this information in one spot is quite a resource. It also allows for a deeper understanding of all that has and is going on.

More than once she says the U.S. government is no longer serving the people. That is alarming, but reassuring at the same time knowing someone in the Senate is trying to undo the damage.

Book Review: Abrams tackles the consequences of voter suppression

Book Review: Abrams tackles the consequences of voter suppression

I’ve always known voting is important. However, naively I thought voter suppression was more of a thing of the past and not that prevalent today. I thought the headlines and stories I would read were random occurrences; they were not something I paid much attention to. Shame on me.

Boy, did Stacey Abrams give me an education. In her book Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America (Henry Holt, 2020) she doesn’t hold back in laying out how widespread voter suppression is in the United States, how it occurs, and why it is important to stamp it out completely.

I listened to her book, which she narrates. This made it all the more enjoyable. There was a lot to take in, though. I had to stop for a while in order to digest everything that was being thrown at me.

This book made me think. It made me understand the subtleties of voter suppression as well as the blatant disregard for everyone’s rights. Abrams then explains the consequences; what it means when whole groups of people are not heard from, are not represented, when they are silenced.

While Abrams delves into her plight as a candidate for governor of Georgia in 2018, this is not a memoir, it is not a woe-is-me retrospective. Instead, it is a call to action.

She clearly makes the case that without giving voting access to all, democracy anywhere is threatened. While this might seem obvious, she delves deep into this belief with evidence to prove her point.

This is a book for everyone who cares about democracy—in the United States and throughout the world.

Mexico in the news: Restaurants, rifles, and reefs

Mexico in the news: Restaurants, rifles, and reefs

  • Check out the top rated restaurants in Mexico.
  • The sniper rifles flowing to Mexican cartels show a decade of U.S. failure, according to the Washington Post.
  • The New York Times writes about a coral reef in Mexico that is insured against hurricanes.
  • U.S. tourists responsible for surge in coronavirus cases in Mexico Riviera, reports the Washington Post.
  • Mexico begins COVID-19 vaccinations amid surge in cases, reports the New York Times.
Book review: History of racism a lesson we should all learn

Book review: History of racism a lesson we should all learn

It amazes me how much I don’t know. That is the feeling I kept having as I read Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books, 2016).

It could be the one and only book that people should read to understand racism in the United States. For all the people who say slavery ended more than a century ago and that black people need to move on, this book is for you. For those who want a better understanding of how we got to where we are today, this book is for you. I can’t imagine anyone who should not read this book—no matter color, political affiliation, or other distinguishing characteristic.

Author Ibram X. Kendi doesn’t need to interject his opinion, the facts speak for themselves. Kendi is also the author of How to be an Anti-Racist, another book I recommend. He is the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, as well as professor of history and international relations, author, and columnist for The Atlantic.

This isn’t an easy read. In many ways it’s like tackling an interesting text book. I read part of it and listened to the audiobook. Both were engaging.

It’s not just whites who are racist. Kendi points to the actions and beliefs of blacks that perpetuated racist behavior. Much of the racism, though, is rooted in what they were taught. It is an evolution of sorts to understand the complexities and subtleties of racism. Racism is woven into the fabric of most aspects of life in the United States; which is why it is so hard to abolish it.

While the historical realities—decades ago and more recent—can be sobering, Kendi in the epilogue leaves readers with hope. Change, though, is going to be up to us.

Book Review: ‘Good Rain’ brings Pacific Northwest to life

Book Review: ‘Good Rain’ brings Pacific Northwest to life

I want to go explore the Pacific Northwest like never before. It’s all because of Timothy Egan and his book “The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest” (Vintage Departures, 1990).

While I have spent some time in Oregon and Washington, the two states clearly deserve more of my time and attention.

“The Good Rain” is part history book, part travelogue. While it was a bit slow to get into, I am glad I stuck with it. I learned so much. At times I felt transported to the locations Egan so eloquently describes.

Other times I was angry—mostly at the government and those who chose to selfishly wreck the land without thought to those who were using it first and those who might come later. Clear cutting forests, depleting the salmon population, damming rivers—they all have consequences that we are living with today.

The way Egan describes the landscape, some of which is still wild to this day, is captivating.

Throughout the book he weaves in people who make the subject matter more personal and at times more relevant.

This is a book for those who want to learn about a part of the United States they may not know much about and definitely if you want to escape the realities of today.

Book Review: ‘White Fragility’ challenges assumptions about racism

Book Review: ‘White Fragility’ challenges assumptions about racism

White people control just about everything in the United States—government, education, business, health care, you name it. The problem is we don’t want to let go of that control. We suppress others from having what we have, from being equal to us because we don’t want to share control or give up control entirely.

In her book White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism Robin Diangelo (Beacon Press, 2018) clearly outlines how white people are the problem, not those of color. For more than 20 years Diangelo has been a consultant and trainer on issues of racial and social issues. This book is written by a white person for white people.

Too often white people reduce racism to two categories—those who are racist are bad, those who are not are good. No one wants to be bad, so they aren’t racist. Diangelo explains it isn’t that simple, and the good and bad thinking needs to be abandoned to make progress. Good people are racist and they do bad things. That’s a basic fact. It’s the ability to acknowledge your beliefs, your biases and your judgment that are important.

“Racism is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society. It is not limited to a single act or person. Nor does it move back and forth, one day benefiting whites and another day (or even era) benefiting people of color. The direction of power between white people and people of color is historic, traditional, and normalized in ideology,” Diangelo writes.

Racism is learned, and learned at an early age. Diangelo says preschoolers develop a sense of white superiority. On the reverse side, people of color understand oppression at an early age and recognize the need to defer to white people in order to get along.

What surprised me is the findings about millennials. Diangelo writes, “… millennials are committed to an ideal of color blindness that leaves them uncomfortable with, and confused about, race and opposed to measures to reduce racial inequality. Perhaps most significantly, 41 percent of white millennials believe that government pays too much attention to minorities, and 48 percent believe that discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against people of color.”

Diangelo doesn’t have a quick fix to cure white supremacy or white fragility. It’s going to take the rest of our lifetimes to work on it. Even she is a work in progress. What the book will show people is examples of white fragility, suggestions for how to deal with it, and the need to realize it is going to take effort to change, and you are going to be uncomfortable. No one ever said change was easy, but if your goal is to be a better you, this book will help. And even you don’t think you need help and are not racist and are as enlightened as you want to be, read this book. I’ll bet you get more out of it than you expected.

Book Review: Brockovich delves into national water crisis

Book Review: Brockovich delves into national water crisis

Life on planet Earth is not sustainable without uncontaminated drinking water. While this is not a new revelation, what some people might not realize is that the world’s fresh water supply is facing threats on multiple levels.

In her latest book “Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It” (Pantheon Books, 2020) Erin Brockovich takes the reader on a journey to various parts of the world, mostly in the United States, that are having or have had issues with potable drinking water.

It was alarming to learn how much contamination exists at U.S. military bases, and that the Department of Defense is not doing all it can to help the men and women who still work there or providing the help to military personnel who have moved on, but still suffered consequences because of contaminants in the water.

One of the most egregious things going on is that water systems only test for known chemicals. The polluters of our waterways and aquifers—the source for drinking water—don’t tell the water providers what they are doing. It’s not until what comes out of the tap is discolored or smells funny, or people start dying or coming down with unexplained diseases, or animals are deformed or sick that the truth starts to come to light.

Even then so often government and industry get in the way of fixing the problem or even taking responsibility. Much of the book is about how grassroots efforts are needed to right the wrongs of the world. At the end of most chapters Brockovich gives tips on how people can get involved. Plus, she gives multiple examples about how so many “average” people were able to make a difference in their communities when it came to drinking water.

Brockovich more than once expressed how clean drinking water is not a partisan issue, pointing out how the Clean Water Act was signed by a Republican president and the Environmental Protection Agency was created by a different Republican president. But she has harsh words for the Trump administration with its stance toward coal as she explains how that industry is bad for the environment, and how this administration has decimated the EPA.

“We need more information about all the chemicals found in the marketplace today, and we need more scientists and experts to take a bolder stand,” Brockovich wrote. “Many contaminants found in our drinking water, including pharmaceutical and industrial chemicals, are not regulated.”

While the subject matter is incredibly serious, the book is not overly technical. Brockovich conveys her message in an easy to read manner. With plenty of real life examples, the book exposes how clean drinking water is something we all need to be paying attention to. She has solutions; it’s not just about pointing fingers and placing blame. However, Brockovich underlines that without our involvement, the government and industry won’t solve this problem. They need our prodding.

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