The Squandering of America by Robert Kuttner

book jacket tilted busThe Squandering of America: How the Failure of our Politics Undermines our Prosperity (2007) by Robert Kuttner

I am starting at the end in the chapter of on Trade and the National Interest, subtitle “The Debate We Should be Having.” Much of the book is kind of more of the same of his other books, maybe a little more difficult to get into. I did particularly like his position on trade since the TPP terrifies me in a scifi dystopian world to come soon kind of way. Page 241:

If you accept the broad premise of this book (and the evidence of twentieth history), a MANAGED FORM OF CAPITALISM is far better for most people, better for a broadly diffused prosperity, better for economic efficiency, and better for the stability of the system as a whole. The nation-state is necessarily the venue of that economic management, because it is the locus of government and of political democracy. There is no global government, only very partial and largely unaccountable institutions of international regulation. The only entity close to a transnational democratic polity is the European Union. But the European Union solves the problem of reconciling private commerce with managed capitalism on only one continent and Europe’s model is coming under increasing threat by the current brand of globalization.

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History of Beauty edited by Umberto Eco and On Ugliness

beautyHistory of Beauty is a heavy lift by many standards. Filled with sumptuous color plates (it is a Rizzoli book, enough said), and writing by Alastair McEwen, so maybe that’s why the edited by….never mind, argh.

Beauty is dissected and poked and rotated and placed in context and related contexts under your head will explode. It is a fantastic read if you only read one sentence at a time and mull it over, maybe reading it three times while you think about what was said. If the room you are in is very quiet, you might venture a paragraph, but not while hungry or tired or with an upcoming appointment.

The book begins with a lovely survey of various classifications of beauty through time, nude men and women of course were an easy find, plus Venus, Madonnas; I should have expected it after the male beauty included George Clooney under the “Clothed Adonis” category, but I did not and laughed out loud at the appropriate inclusion of a 1991 photograph of Madonna.

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