Thanks for your kind words, Jennifer.
“We are the authors of our own fates. But…we are not the producers or directors of the larger dramas in which we find ourselves. Other forces are at work in determining not only what we able to earn but also what we are able to accomplish, as well as the strength of our voices and the efficacy of our ideals. Those who are rich and becoming even more so are neither smarter nor morally superior to anyone else. They, however, often luckier, and more privileged and more powerful. As such, their high worth does not necessarily reflect their worth as human beings.”—Robert B. Reich
I’ve been following economist Robert Reich’s career ever since he was President Clinton’s Secretary of Labor during Clinton’s first term. I’ve read several Mr. Reich’s books, follow him via his Facebook page, and his documentary “Inequality for All” is a must-see, and was the first film my church showed during this season’s film series thanks to my suggestion.
Reich is currently a lecturer at UC-Berkeley, and his course “Wealth and Poverty” is one of the most popular on campus. Much of this class is shown in the documentary “Inequality for All” and it these scenes that show why this class is so popular, displaying solid evidence done in an accessible way, and Reich’s good natured humor (much of it at his own expense).
As mentioned, I’ve also read several of Reich’s books, so I was only too excited to come across Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few. I knew I just had to add it to my home library. And though we’ve haven’t made it June, I can safely say Saving Capitalism is probably one of the most essential books of 2016, especially during one of the most contentious election years I think most of us have witnessed in our lifetimes.
Saving Capitalism is divided into three parts—the free market, work and worth, and countervailing power. The free market covers several topics including the five building blocks of the capitalism, freedom and power, and new concepts regarding property, monopoly, contracts, and bankruptcy.
Work and worth uncovers why the concept of meritocracy is basically a myth, why CEO pay has skyrocketed to huge proportions, the struggling middle class and their lack of bargaining power, the struggles (and rise) of the working poor who are not exactly who you think they are, and the rise of the non-working rich.
And countervailing power covers issues including the threats to capitalism, both the decline and the rise of countervailing power, overhauling corporations and how technology is taking over work once done by actual human beings.
One thing that struck me while reading the first part of Saving Capitalism, is how both business and the government are in bed together, which goes against the idea that government works against big business, not against it. And this alliance ends up throwing smaller businesses and individuals under the bus. Just how is this done? Well, mostly through the power of the dollar, which big businesses, and not to mention, the very wealthy have, and let’s face it, smaller businesses and most of us do not.
Lobbying also has access to government power and often curries favor for everything from military contracts, Wall Street, Big Pharma and corporate agriculture.
And while reading work and worth, I was struck by the idea of “meritocracy” and how it has become a myth in our modern age. Yes, we’d like to think that people who are truly talented, hard-working, well-educated and highly-skilled achieve deserved success. And when this truly happens, it’s a lovely site to behold. But, let’s face it, some of the most successful people don’t deserve their success at all, and we, as a nation are losing out. Reich’s examination of the decline of the middle-class, just what is behind immense CEO pay, the rise of the working poor (many of them educated, skilled, and talented), and the rise (and the power) of the non-working rich (oh, hi there, Walton family), will truly piss readers off. Furthermore, in this section, Reich’s discusses how all of this slowly unfurled starting nearly forty years ago through several carefully crafted methods.
In part three of Saving Capitalism—countervailing power— further describes exactly what got us here in the 21st century, which will piss you off, but also what we can do, and how we are not powerless as we think we are. Reich offers several solutions to the problems he explains in Saving Capitalism. Some of them include getting rid of Citizen’s United, reducing patent lengths, bringing back strong unions, taking a good look at excessive CEO pay and simply reigning in bad policies that got us in the mess we are in. One interesting idea, currently being looked into in Switzerland, is giving everyone a livable monthly stipend paid by tax payers. Yes, some people will sit on their butts, simply happy to get a stipend. But Reich believes most people will want to make more money and will feel more at ease seeking out employment and vocations that are truly fulfilling and will benefit society as a whole.
I do wish Reich would have focused on two factors that have played part in this bunkum. Firstly, I would have like to have read more about how lobbying influences our elected leaders to favor corporations, Wall Street and the very wealthy. I would have also liked to have read how the mainstream media, which is owned by only six corporations, kisses up to big business, the one percent and other powerful game players, and eschews the rest of us. Today, mainstream media seems to be more PR and marketing than actual journalism. But perhaps this can be further investigated in another book.
Ultimately, Saving Capitalism packs quite a powerful message, and one that is delivered in a down-to-earth way that educates, angers, empowers, and hopefully, inspires change and making America truly greater for all of us.
“Well, I’m waiting.” – Bookish Jen
To those of you who aren’t familiar with Ted Nugent, consider yourself lucky. But I’m going to fill you in. Once upon a time Ted Nugent was a supposed rock star with one notable hit that I can actually remember hearing on the radio, “Cat Scratch Fever.” Other songs amongst Teddy’s songbook include “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” “Stranglehold,” and “If You Can’t Lick ‘Em… Lick ‘Em.”
“Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” Stranglehold,” and “If You Can’t Lick ‘Em… Lick ‘Em?” you ask with a shudder. Yes, my lovely readers. Who says romance is dead?
Nowadays, Teddy Boy, is pretty much a nostalgia act for the Tea Party set. And he also fancies himself a political pundit who writes commentary for such publications like World Net Daily. He’s also written a few books, including Ted, White and Blue-The Nugent Manifesto, which was published just before President Obama was elected in 2008. Ted, White and Blue features Ted’s take on taxes, politics, immigration, education, healthcare, and his favorite topic, guns. And not surprisingly, Ted’s manifesto is delivered with all of the wit, wisdom and nuance of an AK47. But instead of writing a review I will showcase Ted’s selected photographs found within the confines of Ted, White and Blue, complete with Ted’s very own words, and my responses written with a poison Jen, responses more Dorothy Parker than Bonnie Parker. And keep in mind, as a country we are better off thinking red (I’m a redhead) than thinking Ted.
Black guy on the left, “Bitch, please.” Black guy on the right, “You are a white dude from Detroit. Shut up.” Lion in the middle, “This guy’s dick is in my ass! Help!”
Large cigar, huge gun between his legs. Clearly Ted is lacking something.
This is what you get when you Google, “Right wing performance art at Coachella.
Alternative to the National Rifle Association, the NRA. Nugent Runs Amok.
Sadly, the parents of Newton, Massachusetts who lost their beautiful children on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary will never get to put their arms around their deceased children. No parent should ever have to bury child, and never should a parent have to bury a child due to senseless gun violence.
No Ted, this is a perfect American family.
Ah, yes, every readers’ shame, the dreaded unread pile.
Does reading sexy books make one a sexist? Let’s find out.
Books you might want to read this summer.
If you are going to write essays please refrain from writing essays that are like Amanda Lauren’s. Please, I beg of you. And after taking a gander at Ms. Lauren’s website, I will never forgive Carrie Bradshaw for convincing millennial women that being a writer is all about designer shoes, fancy cocktails, brunch with the girls and finding your own Mr. Big.
To cleanse the palate here is the cover of Interview magazine featuring the last interview with the irreplaceable David Bowie.
How Emily Dickinson’s family garden inspired her writing.
Interesting in running your own bookshop? Look to The Book Shop Blog for some advice.
Dedicated to the lovely CoBalt Stargazer—How to conquer the dreaded writer’s block.
Dedicated to the lovely Nora Talltree—Books that uncover the diversity that is Asian-Pacific heritage.
Society has always looked at single women with a mixture of pity, apprehension, fascination and at times a wee bit of jealousy as if they might be threatened by ladies who don’t sport Mrs. before their names and whose left hands are sans a wedding ring.
Believe me, I’ve had plenty of men and women (mostly women) who look at me with a wee bit of side-eye and I’ve felt the sting of their judgments. So I was pretty happy to find Rebecca Traister’s book All the Single Ladies where she examines the various experiences of single women and how they are woven into the history of American society, both in the modern age and days long ago.
Today there are more single women than married women, much of this is due to women having more options than older generations when it comes to education, careers, sex and children. Women are holding off on getting married until they are older and have gotten an education and have established some semblance of a career or some type of work history. And despite much pearl clutching, most single women do end up married and having children, often before they are in their thirties.
All the Single Ladies is a combination of statistics, anecdotes, historical facts and a variety of personal stories from a wide variety of single ladies, some by chance, some by choice and some by circumstance.
Each chapter of All the Single Ladies covers a wide range of topics regarding lasses who haven’t found their Mr. or Ms. Rights (but perhaps have found a quite a few Mr. or Ms. Right Nows.) Singles ladies are dissected from the past, the present and in the future realm. Singles ladies of all stripes are considered amongst Ms. Traister’s well-written prose. This includes never married, divorced and some widowed ladies. She examines single ladies and their pursuits to achieve both educational and career success. She tells stories of women and their friendships with each other and how they evolve as they get older and arrive at different benchmarks in their lives, both professional and personal. Traister covers women as single mothers and those whose lives aren’t always so rosy and glamorous. She examines single ladies impact on American society, much of it very positive, and how society often views single ladies, sadly, much of it not so positive. And yes, Traister covers, or should I say uncovers, single ladies and their sex lives. And believe me, single ladies have been doing the horizontal sweaty long before the sexual revolution and pretty much having a grand old time, too!
If I do have any problem with All the Single Ladies, it is this. Traister does a little too much of what I call, “Me and My Friends Journalism,” meaning a majority of the women she interviews are very much like herself—college educated, middle class and of the professional caste. Nothing wrong with any of this, I’ve been all three at various times of my life. Furthermore, a majority of her subjects live on either the left or right coast (probably mostly the right—mostly New York City). I would have liked to have read more stories from women of color, non-college educated women, recent immigrants, women wearing collars both blue and pink, and places in the USA that the mainstream media ignores. Hey Ms. Traister, did you know my ‘hood, Milwaukee, was just named one of the best food towns in the country?
Milwaukee isn’t all about cheese. Well, actually Milwaukee is a lot about cheese. We even have artisanal cheese.
But I digress…
Still, I think Ms. Traister (who recently found a husband to “put a ring on it”), offers a very well-researched, thoughtful, witty, and empathetic tome on one of the most misunderstood demographics around—single ladies, not all of them, but definitely a notable bunch.
I’m not usually the biggest fan standard-issue chick lit featuring hapless, yet hopeful heroines working in “glamour” industries like fashion, PR, show business or advertising usually in New York City. The cover is usually some shade of pink and features one of the holy trinity of chick lit graphics—statement handbag, high-heeled shoe, or fancy cocktail.
Copygirl, authored by Anna Mitchael and Michelle Sassa, features a pink cover the shade of a rather attention grabbing shade of fuchsia. However, there was no handbag, shoe or cocktail to be found on Copygirl’s cover. Furthermore, Copygirl was described as a hybrid of The Devil Wears Prada and Mad Men. I actually liked The Devil Wears Prada, who hasn’t had a nightmare boss? And I just finished binge-watching Mad Men and related only too well to copywriter Peggy Olson, so I decided to give Copygirl a whirl.
Meet Copygirl’s protagonist Kay, after finishing college where she studies advertising, she follows her crush Ben to NYC where they both get jobs one of the city’s hottest agencies with the unfortunate of initials of STD. While in ad school, Kay thought she would write memorable copy like “Think Different” and “Just Do It.” She also thought she’d get romantic with Ben. Sadly, none of those dreams seem to be coming true for our heroine. Instead, Kay is dealing with the STD’s overlords who make Pol Pot look like Mr. Rogers and is writing hapless copy for accounts her much cooler hipster co-workers reject outright. As for Ben? Right now he’s sleeping on Kay’s couch, not her bed.
STD is riddled with egotistical tyrants, high fashion hotties, pretentious creatives and one Diet Coke-obsessed intern with the last name of Bouffa. Bouffa may not have the schooling or experience for this particular internship, but she does have something deemed more important—family connections.
Kay feels completely out of it at STD with her family connections from the Midwest, her wardrobe of sneakers, jeans and hoodies and her low-key, modest and easily intimidated personality. Will she ever measure up and find success? And will she find love with Ben or will she lose him to the office hot girl?
To appease her battered and bruised sense of self Kay makes wax dolls and films them in absurd situations. The main character of Kay’s magnum opus is a doll named Copygirl who warns everybody “Don’t be a copygirl.” Kay shares her videos with her best friend who is currently studying in France. This best friend starts uploading Kay’s videos for the world to see and they become a huge sensation, making Kay feeling both awkward and proud.
Meanwhile, Ben moves out and Kay is convinced he is having a fling with the office hottie. However, Kay finds this hottie is more than a pair of designer boots and a killer wardrobe, and though Bouffa may have family connections, she is also willing to work hard and is pretty nice kid. And then there is suit-wearing guy who might be more than what he seems.
Kay struggles daily with writing appropriate copy for the latest, hippest soda trying to grab the much-wanted Millennial market only to be treated with contempt by her fellow creative co-workers, clueless clients and tyrannical agency heads. Will she find the secret sauce to come up with the right lines that will be iconic as such classic ad copy she dreamed of writing? Or will she be fired with only her wax dolls to keep her company?
Ultimately, I liked Copygirl. It was a fun and breezy read, and I rooted for Kay throughout the book even though at times I wanted to shake her. Spending time in the copywriting trenches I could totally relate to her daily struggles, pretty much dealing with the same obnoxious behavior she dealt with even though I come from Milwaukee. And I also know how creative “me-time” activities Kay indulged in helped alleviate her stress and gain her both kudos and confidence.
But what I really liked about Copygirl was how it didn’t focus so much on romance, but on Kay’s growth in her career and how she forges strong bonds with her female co-workers rather than seeing them as competition both professionally and personally.
In the end Copygirl is a fun read, both fluffy and profound, and I think most working girls will be able to relate to Kay’s plight even if your Devil wears H & M, and your place of work is a mixture of both Mad Men and Mad Women.