Postscript to Review of Rachel Maddow’s Blowout

This book would be much improved by adding more to its index. Its sixteen page index is way too skimpy for a 406-page book; the index has a paucity of See or See also cross-references; omissions of significant events and inclusion of insignificant mentions, and no double-posting of topics where that is called for.

For example – Ukraine is under Putin, but under Ukraine there is no reference to Putin. Likewise, Carter-Page is listed under Page, not Carter-Page. And there’s no See reference to the name he is usually called.

There are noticeable omissions and commissions of page number mistakes too. Joe Biden is listed on pages 237-239, but there is nothing about him on pages 237 or 238, only page 239.

However, a significant thing about Pussy Riot is listed on page 239 but it’s not in the index, while an insignificant thing is listed on page 226.

On the other hand there is a significant discussion about Pussy Riot on pages 218-219, but the indexer left out Joe Biden’s reaction to that group’s fate at the hands of Putin (on page 219).

However, the biggest omission of all lies in not indexing Rachel’s NOTES ON SOURCES SECTION (pp. 371-390).

These twenty pages contain interesting narratives about each of the twenty-nine chapters in the book. There are names of people, places, and events galore in this section that are not in the index. But readers are very likely to overlook that section in the back of this book.

Truly, the publisher, Crown, an imprint of Random House, should be ashamed!

Review of Rachel Maddow’s Blowout

One of the things that annoys me about corrupt people is their use of the English language to confuse and hoodwink the rest of us.

I know this might sound like a petty complaint by an English major in college, but it isn’t really. 

We have seen these terms for decades: “protective strikes” (protective of whom or what?) “weapons of mass destruction,” or “natural” food, gas, and water (what part of Nature? Do our own bodies benefit from these things?)

Rachel Maddow’s new book Blowout is a New York Times bestseller. Rightly so! 

Especially because Rachel didn’t get the Democratic party to pony up to spend tens of thousands of dollars to buy hundreds of copies of her book to put it on the New York Times bestseller list. She earned her rating the honest way.

Yes, corruption is not always illegal as some people these days like to point out. But corruption always has negative consequences, often against innocent people who had nothing to do with it.

In particular, misuse of the English language fools a lot of us into complacency by omitting the full story or even through perverting the real story.  Continue reading →

Six Ideas To Improve Our U.S. Economy

There are obvious things that no one running for President seems to be talking about these days. Here are six issues I think we should talk about.

(1) Talk about how we are going to improve our infrastructure 

From assertions that fossil fuels that would immediately be outlawed on election day, on one hand, to, on the other hand, the fact that fossil fuels are so far the only industries that our President supports wholeheartedly, we’re not talking about infrastructure. Why? A functional infrastructure is the foundation of good economics. We have no idea what needs fixing and how much it will cost. How can we be realistic in our expectations about updating our infrastructure. A recent documentary on TV lately showed that China is far ahead of us in building its infrastructure, and solving technical problems. We can’t afford to lose out in this race!

(2) Extending the time limit on unemployment insurance

So far, the only person I’ve seen argue for this idea is an economist who predicted the last financial crisis.Raghhuram G. Rajan (“Raj”) pointed out in his 2010 book, Fault Lines that European countries now allow their unemployment support to go on for two to three years. Given the need to retrain workers for jobs robots can’t do, I think unemployment and job training should be on the near horizon – especially since the Fed is feeding a low-interest-rate frenzy on Wall Street that may lead to stagflation and unemployment as soon as next year.

(3) Considering rotating teachers among schools rather than busing students or giving students vouchers to go to schools far away from home

Botswana in Africa (home of the Ladies #1 Detective Agency) rotates 20% of its teachers each year. Why? Because Botswana has a multitude of tribal groups. Rotating teachers has helped bring understanding among different tribes, and Botswana is an exceptionally peaceful country, having had no race wars. If any other country needs help with encouraging its racial/ethnic groups to understand and trust each other, it is the United States! We have the most diverse population in the world.

(4) In keeping with the above idea, how about restructuring the housing situation in this country?

Not just in terms of how to promote environmental justice for less-well-off people, or for controlling climate change, but also to encourage integration of neighborhoods. This would decrease gerrymandering and increase connections among the hundreds of racial/ethnic groups in the United States. The funding of housing is intimately connected with both Wall Street and our federal government. Government has looked the other way at redlining of whole neighborhoods, and banks have gotten burned profiting off sub-prime loans. How could we encourage government and banks to get involved in bringing Americans of all backgrounds together rather than segregating so many of our urban and suburban neighborhoods.

(5) Changing the way race is defined in this country.

The Census Bureau lists only a few categories of race. This country has over 500 Native American tribes along with successive inflows of immigrants from everywhere around the globe over many centuries. We are the most diverse country in the world. Our Census categories are completely inadequate for drawing any rational conclusions about how to serve all Americans. At best, using other sources, our government can only come up with percentages for 20 categories of Americans by race or ethnicity. This is a cornucopia of data with big holes in it.This kind of data promotes exclusion more than inclusion.

(6) Abandoning the view that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders

According to the Financial Times economist, Martin Wolf, The U.S. Business Roundtable, represented by 181 CEOs of the world’s largest companies has just issued a statement that their companies will “share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders.” This is not a new idea. I worked for a non-profit in the 1990’s that was promoting the idea of serving long-term stakeholders in corporations, such as employees, clients, and communities. In fact, a Wall Street power broker named Marty Lipton put forth a call to abandon short-term profits for long-term commitments to stakeholders in his 1979 paper, “Takeover Bids in the The Target’s Boardroom” (Source: Financial Times Gillian Tett, “Does capitalism need saving from itself”). Isn’t it about time to discuss this idea!

If you have ideas that you think should be discussed by our Presidential candidates but aren’t, please comment (briefly as you can) and I’ll post comments (with or without your name if you prefer). Let’s hear your ideas about changing things for the better!