This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

HC 79 .E5 K56 2014

“Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon – it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.

In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth.

Klein exposes the myths that are clouding climate debate.

We have been told the market will save us when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. We have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it – it just requires breaking every rule in the “free market” playbook: reining in corporate power, rebuilding local economies, and reclaiming our democracies.

We have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight for the next economy and against reckless extraction is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring.

Climate change, Klein argues, is a civilizational wake-up call, a powerful message delivered in the language of fires, floods, storms, and droughts. Confronting it is no longer about changing the lightbulbs. It’s about changing the world – before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe.

Either we leap – or we sink.

Once a decade, Naomi Klein writes a book that redefines its era. No Logo did so for globalization. The Shock Doctrine changed the way we think about austerity. This Changes Everything is about to upend the debate about the stormy era already upon us.”
– publisher description


Homer Economicus

Homer Economicus

Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics edited by Joshua Hall

HB 172 .H66 2014

“In Homer Economicus a cast of lively contributors takes a field trip to Springfield, where the Simpsons reveal that economics is everywhere. By exploring the hometown of television’s first family, this book provides readers with the economic tools and insights to guide them at work, at home, and at the ballot box.

Since The Simpsons centers on the daily lives of the Simpson family and its colorful neighbors, three opening chapters focus on individual behavior and decision making, introducing readers to the economic way of thinking. Part II guides reader through six chapters on money, markets, and government. A third and final section discusses timely topics in applied microeconomics, including immigration, gambling, and health care as seen in The Simpsons. Reinforcing the nuts and bolts laid out in any principles text in an entertaining and culturally relevant way, this book is an excellent teaching resource that will also be at home on the bookshelf of all pop economics readers.”
– publisher description

The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life

The Why Axis

The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life
by Uri Gneezy and John A. List

HB 74 .P8 G56 2013

“Can economics be passionate?… Can it center on people and what really matters to them day-in and day-out… And help us understand their hidden motives for why they do what they do in everyday life?

Uri Gneezy and John List are revolutionaries. Their ideas and methods for revealing what really works in addressing big social, business, and economic problems gives us new understanding of the motives underlying human behavior. We can then structure incentives that can get people to move mountains, change their behavior – or at least get a better deal.

But finding the right incentive can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Gneezy and List’s pioneering approach is to embed themselves in the factories, schools, communities, and offices where people work live, and play. Then, through large-scale field experiments conducted “in the wild,” Gneezy and List observe people in their natural environments without them being aware that they are observed.

Their randomized experiments have revealed ways to close the gap between rich and poor students; to stop the violence plaguing inner-city schools; to decipher whether women are really less competitive than men; to correctly price products and services; and to discover the real reasons why people discriminate.

To get the answers, Gneezy and List boarded planes, helicopters, trains, and automobiles to embark on journeys from the foothills of Kilimanjaro to California wineries; from sultry northern India to the chilly streets of Chicago; from the playgrounds of schools in Israel to the boardrooms of some of the world’s largest corporations. In The Why Axis, they take us along for the ride, and through engaging and colorful stories, present lessons with big payoffs.

Their revelatory, startling, and urgent discoveries about how incentives really work are both revolutionary and immensely practical. This research will change both the way we think about and take action on big and little problems. Instead of relying on assumptions, we can find out, through evidence, what really works. Anyone working in business, politics, education, or philanthropy can use the approach Gneezy and List describe in The Why Axis to reach a deeper, nuanced understanding of human behavior, and a better understanding of what motivates people and why.” – publisher description

Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food

Bet the Farm

Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food by Frederick Kaufman

HD 9000.5 .K3725 2012

“In the last half decade, the world has seen two devastating spikes in the price of food, and a third may be on the way. In 2008 and 2010, farmers gathered record wheat harvests, yet more people starved than ever before – and most of them were farmers. How is that possible?

In Bet the FarmHarper’s magazine contributing editor Frederick Kaufman investigates the hidden connection between global food and global finance by asking the simple question: Why can’t delicious, inexpensive, and healthy food be available to everyone on Earth?

You will find his discoveries shocking.

Like a detective intent on solving a mystery, Kaufman travels from the corporate headquarters of Domino’s Pizza and Tyson Foods to Walmart’s sustainability research center, to mega-farms and organic farms and numerous genetic modification laboratories. Kaufman goes to Rome to the meeting of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and finally ends up on Wall Street and the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he discovers the answer to the riddle. His investigation reveals that money pouring into the global derivatives market in grain futures is having astonishing consequences that reach far beyond your dinner table, including the Arab Spring, bankrupt farmers, starving masses, and armies of scientists creating new GMO foods with U.S. marketing and shipping needs in mind instead of global nutrition.

Our food is getting less healthy, less delicious, and more expensive even as the world’s biggest food companies and food scientists say things are better than ever and taht the rest of us should leave it to them to feed the world. Readers of Bet the Farm will glimpse the power behind global food and understand what truly supports the system that has brought mass misery to our planet.” – publisher description

The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future

The Price of Inequality

The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz

HC 110 .I5 S867 2012

“America’s current level of income inequality is at historic levels not seen since before the Great Depression. In the boom years before the financial crisis of 2008, the top 1 percent seized more than 65 percent of the gain in total national income. And while GDP grew, most citizens saw their standards of living erode.

In 2010, as the nation struggled to emerge from a deep recession, the 1 percent gained 93 percent of the additional income created in the so-called recovery. As those at the top continue to enjoy the best health care, education, and benefits of wealth, they often fail to realize that, as Joseph E. Stiglitz highlights, “their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.”

In The Price of Inequality, Stiglitz joins his formidable economic insight with a passionate call for America to return to the economic and political ideals that made it great. For inequality does not arise in a vacuum. It results from the interplay of market forces and political machinations. Over time, our politics has shaped the market in ways that advantage those at the top at the expense of the rest of society.

We pay a great economic price for our outsized inequality: slower growth, lower GDP, and greater instability. But we also pay in other less tangible, but equally important, ways. With an economic system that seems to fail most citizens, and a political system that appears captive to moneyed interests, America has become less and less the land of equal opportunity and fair play; our democracy has also become less and less responsive to the needs and concerns of most Americans. Our sense of national identity is diminished.

It does not have to be this way. In The Price of Inequality Stiglitz lays out a comprehensive agenda to create a more dynamic economy and a fairer and more equal society.” – publisher description

Economix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work) in Words and Pictures

EconomixEconomix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work) in Words and Pictures
by Michael Goodwin; illustrated by Dan E. Burr

PN 6710 .G66 2012

“Everybody’s talking about the economy, but how can you evaluate what they’re saying? How can we, the people, understand what Wall Street or Washington know – or say they know?

Author Michael Goodwin asked himself the same questions and came up with a good answer: explore the development of economic thought, examine the reality of economic practices, and tell the story through the graphic medium in order to make it accessible.

In a word: Economix

The narrator of this important graphic work is an Everyman of economics seeking sensible answers to the questions many people wonder about:

  • What’s the difference between capitalism, socialism, and communism?
  • Does trickle-down economics work?
  • Is deficit spending necessary?
  • And are corporations people?

Economix explains it all, from the beginnings of Western economic thought to economic failures, successes, anomalies, and future possibilities. Goodwin looks at how our modern economy has gone global and how it is affected by war, climate change, and resource limitations. It’s the essential, comprehensive guide to understanding the economy, regardless of your political affiliation.

Economix is a must-read for every citizen – whether you work on, wonder about, or occupy Wall Street.”
– publisher description

The Secret Financial Life of Food

The Secret Financial Life of FoodThe Secret Financial Life of Food: From Commodities Markets to Supermarkets
by Kara Newman

HG 6046 .N49 2013

“One morning while reading Barron’s, Kara Newman took note of a casual bit of advice offered by famed commodities trader Jim Rogers. “Buy breakfast,” he told investors, referring to the increasing value of pork belly and frozen orange juice futures. The statement inspired Newman to take a closer look at agricultural commodities, from the iconic pork belly to the obscure peppercorn and nutmeg. The results of her investigation, recorded in this fascinating history, show how contracts listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange can read like a menu and how market behavior can dictate global economic and culinary practice.

The Secret Financial Life of Food reveals the economic pathways that connect food to consumer, unlocking the mysteries behind culinary trends, grocery pricing, and restaurant dining. Newman travels back to the markets of ancient Rome and medieval Europe, where vendors first distinguished between “spot sales” and “sales for delivery.” She retraces the storied spice routes of Asia and recounts the spice craze that prompted Christopher Columbus’s journey to North America, linking these developments to modern-day India’s bustling peppercorn market.

Newman centers her history on the transformation of corn into a ubiquitous commodity and uses oats, wheat, and rye to recast America’s westward expansion and Industrial Revolution. She discusses the effects of such mega-corporations as Starbucks and McDonalds on futures markets and considers burgeoning markets, particularly “super soybeans,” which could scramble the landscape of food finance. The ingredients of American power and culture, and the making of the modern world, can be found in the history of food commodities exchange, and Newman connects this unconventional story to the how and why of what we eat.”
– publisher description