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What We're Reading

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Reviews are listed alphabetically by author's last name.


"Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation & Deception" By George Akerlof and Robert Shiller Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member


“Poor White” by Sherwood Anderson Reviewed here by Rev Dr. Lucy Hitchcock, UUJEC Board Member 


“The Origin of Wealth” by Eric Beinhocker reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.


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"Buddhist Economics: An Enlightened Approach to the Dismal Science" By Claire Brown, Ph.D.  Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member


Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age”, “How the US Financial System has Gone Wrong and How to Rebuild It” by Ellen Brown.  Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.


"The Second Machine Age" By Erik Brynjlofsson and Andrew McAfee reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.

 

 

"Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations" by Amy Chua (2018) reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.


 

"This is an Uprising!" by Mark and Paul Engler reviewed here by Terry Lowman, UUJEC co-chair.


"They’re Bankrupting Us!” And 20 Other Myths about Unions" by Bill Fletcher Jr Reviewed here by Rachel Bennett Steury UUJEC Administrator.


"Listen Liberal" by Thomas FrankThe Ruin of the Democratic Party by Meritocracy and Technocracy reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.

 


"Crisis in US Health Care: Corporate Power vs. The Common Good" by John Geyman, M.D. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member.


Combined Review of "Dark Age America" by John Michael Greer, and "Ages of Discord" by Peter Turchin. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member. 


"The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America – and What We Can Do to Stop It" by Thom Hartmann. Reviewed here by Rev. Dr. Lucy Hitchcock, UUJEC Board Member


Wages of Rebellion: The Moral imperative of Revolt by Chris Hedges. Reviewed here by Rev. Dr. Lucy Hitchcock, UUJEC Board Member. 


"The Bubble and Beyond" by Michael Hudson reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.


“Can We Avoid Another Financial Crisis?” by Steve Keen. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member.


The True Flag” by Stephen Kinzer Reviewed here by Terry Lowman UUJEC Co-Chair.


"Dark Age Ahead" by Jane Jacob reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member.

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“Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right – and How We Can, Too” by George Lakey. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member. 


"Toward a Living Revolution: A Five-Stage Framework for Creating Radical Social Change” by George Lakey. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member. 


"Runaway Inequality" by Les Leopold, reviewed here by Kit Marlowe, UUJEC Secretary.


 

"The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure"  By Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt (2018) Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.

 

“Debt or Democracy – Public Money for Sustainability and Social Justice” - By Mary Mellor. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member.  


“Global Inequality – A New Approach for the Age of Globalization” by Branko Milanovic reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.


"Confessions of An Eco-Sinner" by Fred Pearce reviewed here by Rachel Bennett Streury 


A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System By T.R. Reid. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member. 


"The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care" by T.R. Reid  Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member.


“The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less” By John Robbins Reviewed here by Rachel Bennett Steury UUJEC Administrator.


“Beyond $15, The story of the Seatac living wage battle” by Jonathan Rosenblum. Reviewed here by  Terry Lowman UUJEC Co-Chair.


A Self-Confessed White Supremacy Culture: The Emergence of an Illiberal Left in Unitarian Universalism by Anne Schneider (2019) reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart.


"The Public Option: How to Expand Freedom, Increase Opportunity, and Promote Equality" by Ganesh Sitaraman and Anne Alstott (2019) and reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart, board member...This excellent little survey of “public options” shows exactly how much the US has suffered from the ideology of neoliberal economics. 


“How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System” By Wolfgang Streeck. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member.

 

"The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” By Nina Teicholz.  Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member.


"The Corporate Criminal: Why corporations must be abolished" by Steve Tombs and David Whyte. Reviewed here by Rich Florentino UUJEC Board Member.


“Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth” by Peter Turchin. Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member. 

 

"Less Medicine, More Health" written by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch Reviewed here by Terry Lowman UUJEC Co-Chair


"Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy" by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Melanie Wachtell Stinett Reviewed here by Lucy Hitchcock, UUJEC Board Administrator

 

"The Money Formula: Dodgy Finance, Pseudo Science, and How Mathematicians Took Over the Market"  By Paul Wilmott and David Orrell Reviewed by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member, published in the SIAM News


 “Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems”, Second Edition, by L. Randall Wray.

Reviewed here by Dr. Dick Burkhart UUJEC Board Member

Journal

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Escalating Inequality"What I’ve Learned About Diet Since My Heart Attack" By Dick Burkhart

After my heart attack on Aug 20, 2017, the stent the docs put into my blocked artery seemed to fix everything. But then I got my lipoprotein panel test results back, and there were no risk factors. In fact all my ratios involving fatty acids and cholesterol were right at, or exceeded, target levels (even more after 6 months). I’d made daily exercise (walking or biking) part of my lifestyle my whole life, plus followed a “healthy” vegetarian diet (plus fish and dairy) for over 3 decades, limiting sugars. What had gone wrong? My cardiologist basically said “shit happens”. Eventually I decided to start doing my own research. What I found was shocking.

7/19/2018

Escalating Inequality"The Poor People’s Campaign Gains Momentum" by Laura Dely

If you’re going to the GA, vote Yes on the Poor People’s Campaign “Action of Immediate Witness,” (AIW) that the UUJEC is sponsoring, and visit the UUJEC booth there for more information, then work to engage your  congregation when you return home.

6/17/2018

Escalating InequalityDr. Dick Burkhart's review of Paul Street's article “How the Left Can Gain a Footing in White America”

     This article from Truthdig by Paul Street lays out the deep hole that the left-leaning identity politics of the liberal UU establishment has dug for itself. Thankfully it then elaborates on 12 steps to redemption. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 was a blazing advertisement for the catastrophic failure of this identity politics. Yet what has been the dominant UUA response? – To avoid serious discussion (perhaps because it hits too close to home) and to simply bear down harder. The prime example: How the UUA has tied itself into knots over the phrase “white supremacy”.

5/27/2018

Escalating Inequality"Health Care and Coverage for All" by the Healthcare Justice Committee of UUJEC

One of UUJEC’s top action priorities is to mobilize resources, strategic plans, collaboration and action to provide basic healthcare to all US citizens and residents.  This undergirds the larger goal of reducing wealth inequality.

4/30/2018

Rachel Bennett SteuryHealth Care and Coverage for All, by the Healthcare Justice Committee of UUJEC

One of UUJEC’s top action priorities is to mobilize resources, strategic plans, collaboration and action to provide basic healthcare to all US citizens and residents.  This undergirds the larger goal of reducing wealth inequality.




Because of the current resistance among legislators to universal single payer health care, our strategies must be short term and long term; prevention of the erosion of current coverage under The Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Benefits, Social Security including Disability coverage, community hospitals and state programs; as well as promoting movement toward state and/or national single payer health provision such as expansion and enhancement of Medicare to cover all.




4/30/2018

Escalating Inequality"Hiring with Justice in Mind" by Terry Lowman

Because our white eyes can see and qualify white people more easily, let go and hire the best qualified person of color that you can find.  I managed restaurants for 35 years and after literally thousands of hires, I would challenge anyone who thinks they can hire infallibly.  There was really only one parameter that seemed to indicate sure success--length of prior employment.  Often the applicant would be embarrassed at their lack of references, but someone who's stayed in the same job for a third of their life is likely to be a very stable employee.     

4/30/2018

Escalating InequalityInsist on Justice! Resist Inequality! Conference April 21, 2018

We hope you can join us at a one-day conference, to be held at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL on Saturday, April 21, 9:30am - 3:00pm.  UUJEC and the Evanston Church are jointly sponsoring the event.

3/12/2018

Escalating Inequality"Sharing Resources for Interfaith Work in Door County, Wisconsin" by Jim Black

The resources available on the Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community’s website, UUJEC.com, are easy to use and can have a significant impact.  I know I have said this before but every time I employ the resources it strikes me how useful these resources are.


These resources spur robust discussions around income inequality. When I presented the TED Talks at our Fellowship which can be found at the UUJEC website I came off as an expert. I guess the audience blended my identity with the TED speaker. For this kudo I spent a few minutes setting up the big screen TV and hooking up my laptop. The participants at the webinar were amazed at the coast to coast discussion.  The latest minimal effort activity is the Shoreline UU Study Series on income inequality.  This study series can be found in the drop-down menu at the UUJEC website under escalating inequality. 

1/23/2018

Escalating Inequality"It's not taxes that are bleeding us dry" by Rich Florentino

The "Taxman," article, that starts with income and then blames taxes for our "affordability crisis," needs more information. It completely overlooks the wage stagnation over the last four decades.


In total, wages used to be 55 percent of GDP, in the 1960s. Now they are only 45 percent; that's 10 percent less of GDP.  Current GDP is about $20 trillion.  So wages are $2 trillion LESS today than they would be if they had not flat-lined beginning in the 1970s.

12/18/2017

Escalating InequalityHealth Care as a Right by Judy Deutsch

Healthcare-NOW headquarters: the Massachusetts State Senate moved the state closer to implementing single payer healthcare by commissioning a single payer study - with a twist. The Senate passed an amendment that charges the state's Center for Health Information and Analysis to include in their annual reports a comparison of what the state would be spending on healthcare under a single-payer plan, with what it actually spent the previous year.

11/29/2017

Escalating InequalityDecember 6th, 2017 @ 8pm (eastern time) "Worker Centers & Worker Organizing in the Current Political Climate"

We are pleased to be joined by Magaly Licolli – Executive Director, Northwest Arkansas Worker Justice Center and Ahmed Ali – Executive Director, Greater Minnesota Worker Center for a discussion on worker organizing and economic justice. Learn how faith communities can work in solidarity with workers centers to advance our common struggle for dignity and equality.

11/21/2017

Escalating InequalityWilliam Rice from Americans for Tax Fairness "Tax Cuts for the Wealthy. Guess who picks up the tab?”

Thank you for attending the UUJEC/UUSJ webinar "Tax Cuts for the Wealthy. Guess who picks up the tab?” presented by Will Rice, Policy Consultant with Americans for Tax Fairness.  Will’s presentation slides are available for you to review and share with your congregation here.  

11/13/2017

Escalating InequalityThe Buy Nothing Project, by Terry Lowman

I recently read an article about a website, buynothingproject.org.  Although I wouldn't typically use such a website, my Mom's farmhouse burned down in 2007 and we rebuilt a new house with 2/3 of the insurance--my brother didn't want to be involved so my sister and I rebuilt the house.  Mom was in a nursing home, so she couldn't really help.

10/18/2017

Escalating InequalityWebinar Oct 5: Reversing Inequality with Chuck Collins

UUJEC Advisory Board Member Chuck Collins, in Partnership with The Next System Project & The Institute For Policy Studies, released an impactful report “REVERSING INEQUALITY: Unleashing the Transformative Potential of an Equitable Economy.” The report is an excellent resource to understand the key drivers of inequality and concrete wisdom on how to collectively and legislatively move toward a more just economy.  

9/15/2017

Escalating InequalityLiving Wage Certification Toolkit, by Dean Wanderer

The Richmond Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy Chapter is partnering with the Richmond Office of Community Wealth Building to develop a Living Wage Certification program. This is a voluntary certification program designed to recognize and promote employers that pay living wages. The Certification Committee has set $16 or more per hour for the Gold Star Living Wage Certification, $12.50 or more for the Silver Star Living Wage Certification, and $11 or more for the Aspiring Living Wage Certification. 

8/24/2017

Escalating InequalityNew Report by Chuck Collins: Reversing Inequality

REVERSING INEQUALITY: Unleashing the Transformative Potential of an Equitable Economy

8/14/2017

UUJEC Book Reviews

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"Capital in the Twenty-First Century" by Thomas Piketty

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Capital in the Twenty-First Century by French economist Thomas Piketty. At the UUJEC "Escalating Inequality or Justice for All" Conference in Evanston, IL  Michael Teasdale, offered an overview of the key ideas in Piketty’s book. [Michael Teasdale, UUJEC Co-Chair] 


 

"Saving Capitalism" by Robert Reich

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“Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategies” by Dean Ritz

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Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy by Dean RitzThis little book, a collection of 70 essays, sermons, speeches, and yes, even rants, - was invigorating on first read and has been a valuable reference over the years. It challenges the usual approaches of regulations, demonstrations, and puts the essence of illegitimate corporate power on display for all to see. Use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon to sample a few of the gems within. You will be hooked. [Rich Florentino, UUJEC Board Member]

"Strangers in Their Own Land Anger and Mourning on the American Right" by Arlie Russell Hochschild

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Reviewer: [Terry Lowman UUJEC Co-Chair]

Arlie made connections to go to Louisiana and get to know Tea Partiers as people.  Liberals and Northerners dismiss Southerners as dumb and voting against their own interests, but that's only because we Northern Liberals have a different "deep story".  The deep story is that after the Civil War and reconstruction and then after the 1960's Civil Rights movement, it feels like the Federal government is out to keep Southerners down. 

The Tea Partiers have been in a long line waiting for the American Dream, except us liberals keep waving women, people of color, immigrants and the LGBT community in front of them.

Many of their parents and grandparents came from nothing...when oil came to Louisiana and people started making a living.  But then the government brought in immigrants, passed environmental laws and it felt like our government and liberals were against white men making a good living despite loyalty, working hard, and supporting our military

Their own state government has also sold them down the river--approving over 99% of drilling applications and given permits that have polluted their land and water.  They gave permits that destroyed a salt dome and consequently hundreds of acres of land and homes were sucked into the bijou.  If you can't trust the government you can see, why should you trust the Federal government when they give lots of money to no good, lazy people.  Louisiana economically performs next to the bottom, so a lot of people get food stamps and other welfare.

If we're going to help the lazy people, we need to be sure to help those that are working and deserve credit for their effort.

This is a great book with an interesting set of characters.  Arlie writes like a novelist--you feel like you know these people and it's so visual, it could be a movie.

Reviewer: [Chuck Collins, UUJEC Advisory Member]

There are many theories and explanations for the rise of Donald Trump and the current incarnation of white right-wing populism.

A deeper understanding—and an invitation to scale the “empathy wall”—comes from veteran sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild in her new book, Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.  The book is, as its second subtitle suggests, “A Journey to the Heart of Our Political Divide.” 

In Strangers, Hochschild spends over five years embedded with Louisiana Tea Party activists, including families that have suffered from environmental disasters at the hands of chemical and petroleum companies.  As she builds relationships with her subjects, Hochschild goes to meetings, shares meals, goes on local driving tours, attends church, samples food at Cajun cook-offs, and goes to a Trump rally. Read the complete book review by Chuck Collins on Common Dreams

"Considering Hate" by Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski

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This was published by our Beacon Press.  To understand injustice, a good place to start is by studying hate.  This was an amazing and thoughtful look into our origins of hate.  Hate often begins with comparing humans to vermin and/or human fluids, pus, etc.  To create justice, we need to understand how to remove these vile labels from humans. [Terry Lowman, UUJEC Co-Chair]

"The Spirit Level—Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger" by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

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The Spirit Level demonstrates that, quite aside from absolute levels of poverty, relative inequality has pernicious effects on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, and encouraging excessive consumption. The common factor that links the healthiest and happiest societies – whether each society as a whole is rich or poor -- is the degree of equality among its members. Further, more unequal societies are bad for all their members – the rich and middle-class as well as the poor. This book examines the effect of greater inequality within a society on 11 different health and social problems:  physical health, mental health, drug abuse, educational achievement, trust in community life, obesity, social mobility, imprisonment, violence, child welfare, teen-age pregnancies. Outcomes are clearly worse in more unequal societies. [Bob Beekman, UUJEC member and Economic Inequality editor for NWuuJN]

"Under the Influence" by Tim Wise

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Tim Wise gets deep into the structural base of racial wealth disparities starting with the 1676 Bacon rebellion which led rulers to exploit race as a way to control the poor, black and white. Africans were monitored by slave patrols of poor whites, giving poor whites a leg up on blacks and keeping them busy so they don’t notice who is exploiting them. This is a legacy that continues with modern policing

Segregated neighborhoods barely supporting substandard education leads to fewer higher education choices. Even with an education and a clean criminal record, less educated, ex-felon whites still get better jobs. If African Americans do get a good job, they are exploited by racist traditions from housing segregation to credit, which is substantially more expensive. At every turn—private and public policies have given African Americans a raw deal. Wise weaves a comprehensive, fascinating and compelling story. [Terry Lowman, UUJEC Co-Chair]

“Democracy At Work: A Cure for Capitalism” by Richard Wolff

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If you believe that economic justice is an impossibility under capitalism, read Richard Wolff, Democracy At Work: A Cure for Capitalism for a path toward positive systemic change. He analyzes the popularly misconstrued labeling of countries, such as Russia, China and Cuba, as “communist” or “socialist” when, in truth, they are state capitalism. That is, the power to decide where surplus profits from labor go is located in the state instead of in corporations, and not in the workers responsible for the production and surplus. This is a crucial and fog-lifting insight. It also serves as warning that government “New Deals” like raising the minimum wage and providing social security payments, while certainly helpful, are not the same as where decision-making is located. Thus, his “cure for capitalism” is to put the power for decision-making into the hands of the workers.

Of course, this is a major upheaval from what is done now, but there are examples of it working in individual workplaces, like cooperatives, as well as the large and long-term experiment of Mondragon. It gives those of us longing for a fair path forward a blueprint to strive for and companions with whom to collaborate. [Rev. Dr. Lucy Hitchcock, Membership Committee Chair]