The Populist Explosion

populist-explosionThis book comes highly regarded for understanding the age of Trump. In my opinion the book does a good job defining populism and in giving an account of the recent rise of populism in Europe and America. Populism, according to a definition quoted in this book, is “a language that pits ordinary people as a noble assemblage not bounded narrowly by class; view their elite opponents as self-serving and undemocratic; and seek to mobilize the former against he latter.” I also found useful the distinction between right wing populism. Left wing populism pits the people against the “elite.” Continue reading

Teaching What You Don’t Know

teaching what you dont knowThe need that this book attempts to fill arises from college teachers often having to teach courses outside their core expertise and there being very little discussion and guidance in the academy about how to go about teaching so.  The author Therese Huston, a cognitive psychologist who directs the Center for Teaching and Learning at Seattle University, provides some valuable tips gleaned from her conversations with 35 faculty members who have taught courses despite being “content novices.” Continue reading

On Inequality

On InequalityIn this delightfully short book, Frankfurt argues against the doctrine of economic egalitarianism i.e. what is morally important in the evaluation of a state of affairs is whether everyone has equal amounts of wealth. He admits to caring about the equal distribution of wealth, but only to the extent that it leads to other outcomes that he cares about (such political or social equality). By itself, whether everyone has equal amount is morally unimportant. Continue reading

The Tricky Business of Measuring Happiness

measuring happinessThe problem, according to the book, of the current measures of happiness used in happiness studies is that the values so obtained are incommensurable over time and people. The following thought examples illustrates the problem.

Suppose a researcher randomly selects Joe and asks him to rate the current tidiness of his home on the scale of 1-10, with 1 representing the least tidy home he can imagine and 10 representing the tidiest. Continue reading

A Happiness Wishlist

Thisbok book cover book is basically a plea in favor of the following aims that the author wants the American society to do pursue through the means of publicly funded programs and mandates.

  • Strengthen marriage and family (by providing marriage counselling, for example)
  • Encourage active forms of leisure
  • Expand programs to relive the distress of the unemployed

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India and its Contradictions

India’s contradiction is a rapidly growing economy with lagging social indicators. Though the country is straggling towards the middle-income status, fully half if its population defecates in the open and its immunization rates are amongst the lowest in South Asia. Sen and Dreze believe that it is important to draw attention to India’s failings so that we do not become complacent. And they do an admirable job in painting the picture of some of country’s failings. Continue reading

Three Cheers for Migrants!

borderless economicsMy favorite story in this easy read is that of Mei Xu, the founder of a multimillion dollar multinational firm straddling the US and China. Daughter of two teachers who were “re-educated” at labor camps during China’s Cultural Revolution, Mei was a journalism student at the University of Maryland in the early 1990s when she identified a market need in the US. Though Americans were in spoilt for choice when it came to apparel, she noticed, the same was not true in the case of home décor items. Continue reading