Over the years, I have enjoyed reading Matt Taibbi’s current events articles in Rolling Stone, although I did feel at times that his over the top, (but funny) vitriolic name calling cut into his credibility. He is undeniably intelligent and is excellent at explaining complex issues in easy to understand and entertaining prose.
For the first time, I delved into one of his books, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. Here Taibbi investigates the banking/housing financial crisis of 2008, where clearly fraudulent business practices led to the loss of 40% of the world’s wealth, but almost no one went to jail, alongside the proactive policing of the poor that is filling our jails even though crime is declining.
One thing he uncovers is that government agencies are reluctant to go after wealthy corporations because it would cost so much to bring those cases to trial and would be harder to win, because of the top notch lawyers these corporations can employ. On the other hand, the poor are vulnerable and easy to convict; low hanging fruit.
I ask myself if this is anything new. Hasn’t this divide always existed? Taibbi argues that the divide is growing and threatens our country’s foundational values.
Each year the oval office releases a proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The full budget will be released later this spring.
Meanwhile, America First: a Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again gives us a preview of President Trump’s budget. The book spells out his priorities right on the first page of the document. Page 5 lists the agencies for which he recommends eliminating funding. The next several pages give details about his approach to management and regulations. The rest of the book highlights the Executive office’s proposals for several major agencies.
If you want to know how the current administration proposes to spend your federal tax dollars, but you don’t have time or energy to sort through a whole lot of information, look at this book. You can read it online right now or stop by the Central branch to read our print copy.
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what happened in the years leading up to the atrocities. The question people always ask is "how could this happen?" The following books discuss, in great detail, the events that led to genocide in Europe.
The Coming of the Third Reich and The Third Reich in Power by Richard J. Evans
Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1922-1945 by William Sheridan Allen
The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a great website examining the history of the Holocaust, and also features resources on preventing future genocides.
Could the cultural values of the different European immigrants that first immigrated to what we now call the United States still be affecting our election results? Colin Woodard thinks so. He breaks the country up into eleven regional cultures, but he sees most of political history as a conflict between Yankeedom, descendants of the Pilgrims and Puritans; and the Deep South, immigrants from the British colony Barbados that landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1670. In American Nations, Woodard tells the history of the arrival and expansion of these different groups and how they have aligned and broken apart through the next four centuries.
The most fascinating part for me was the Revolutionary War section which showed that the colonies were in no way united about whether or why to start a revolution.
In case you didn’t know, right now in theatres there is a
brilliant movie called the Queen of Katwe. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, and David
Oyelowo, it follows the journey of a young girl named Phiona living in the
slums of Uganda who learns the game of chess and quickly skyrockets through the
ranks to be a national champion, even competing in international competitions
for the rank of Grandmaster. In the process, she is able to improve life
conditions for herself, her family, and uplift the community as a whole.
Right after the credits rolled, I headed straight to the
bookshelves to find out more about this incredible individual. The biographythe movie is based on, by Tim Crothers, fleshes out the inspirational tale a bit more to include the political climate of the country
at the time, and gives more details about some of the great challenges Phiona
Mutesi was able to overcome. Don’t miss
out on this great story of true life triumph!
In 1980, the
Chinese Government enacted a one child policy, mandating that each family could
only have one child in hopes of curbing the rapid population growth of the
country. This controversial policy was put into place to avoid facing another
disaster like the Great Chinese Famine from 1959-1961 that killed an estimated
15 to 30 million people.
there were unintended consequences. At the beginning of this year the one child
policy was lifted, but millions of families are still have to live with the unique
challenges it caused, such as the gender imbalance caused by widespread
infanticide, and millions of unauthorized second children who live
unacknowledged by the state, unable to attend school, or even get a library
In OneChild: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment, Mei Fong explores the
aftermath of this policy through well researched analysis, and by following
families to capture the repercussions through a more personal lens. This book
is a really fascinating, eye-opening read. I definitely recommend it.