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Social Policy

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  1. 8.6 hrs • 7/5/2016 • Unabridged

    A New York Times bestseller A business leader and esteemed economic thinker outlines simple solutions to America’s five most pressing public policy issues, from healthcare to education to inequality. America today confronts a host of urgent problems, many of them seemingly intractable, but some we are entirely capable of solving. In Five Easy Theses, James M. Stone presents specific, common-sense solutions to a handful of our most pressing challenges, showing how simple it would be to shore up Social Security, rein in an out-of-control financial sector, reduce inequality, and make healthcare and education better and more affordable. The means are right in front of us, Stone explains, in various policy options that—if implemented—could preserve or enhance government revenue while also channeling the national economy toward the greater good. Accessible and thought provoking, Five Easy Theses reveals that a more democratic, prosperous America is well within our reach.

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    Five Easy Theses

    8.6 hrs • 7/5/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 9.0 hrs • 2/16/2016 • Unabridged

    A passionate new voice in American politics, US Senator Cory Booker makes the case that the virtues of empathy, responsibility, and action must guide our nation toward a brighter future. Raised in northern New Jersey, Cory Booker went to Stanford University on a football scholarship, accepted a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, then studied at Yale Law School. Graduating from Yale, his options were limitless. He chose public service. He chose to move to a rough neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, where he worked as a tenants’ rights lawyer before winning a seat on the City Council. In 2006, he was elected mayor, and for more than seven years he was the public face of an American city that had gone decades with too little positive national attention and investment. In 2013, Booker became the first African American elected to represent New Jersey in the US Senate. In United, Cory Booker draws on personal experience to issue a stirring call to reorient our nation and our politics around the principles of compassion and solidarity. He speaks of rising above despair to engage with hope, pursuing our shared mission, and embracing our common destiny. Here is his account of his own political education, the moments—some entertaining, some heartbreaking, all of them enlightening—that have shaped his civic vision. Here are the lessons Booker learned from the remarkable people who inspired him to serve, men and women whose example fueled his desire to create opportunities for others. Here also are his observations on the issues he cares about most deeply, from race and crime and the crisis of mass incarceration to economic and environmental justice. “Hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word,” Booker writes in this galvanizing book. In a world where we too easily lose touch with our neighbors, he argues, we must remember that we all rise or fall together—and that we must move beyond mere tolerance for one another toward a deeper connection: love.

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    United

    9.0 hrs • 2/16/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 6.3 hrs • 6/2/2015 • Unabridged

    In American Dreams, Florida senator Marco Rubio asks: What kind of country are we going to be? Will we allow politics to kill the american dream? Or will we rise to the challenge—and take back our legacy as the only nation on earth that offers unrestricted opportunity to all?

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    American Dreams

    6.3 hrs • 6/2/15 • Unabridged
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  4. 10.3 hrs • 3/10/2015 • Unabridged

    A groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone: why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility. It’s the American dream: get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success. This is the America we believe in—a nation of opportunity, constrained only by ability and effort. But during the last twenty-five years we have seen a disturbing “opportunity gap” emerge. Americans have always believed in equality of opportunity, the idea that all kids, regardless of their family background, should have a decent chance to improve their lot in life. Now, this central tenet of the American dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.  Robert Putnam offers a personal but also authoritative look at this new American crisis. Putnam begins with his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio. By and large the vast majority of those students—“our kids”—went on to lives better than those of their parents. But their children and grandchildren have had harder lives amid diminishing prospects. Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, drawing on a formidable body of research done especially for this book.  Our Kids is a rare combination of individual testimony and rigorous evidence. Putnam provides a disturbing account of the American dream that should initiate a deep examination of the future of our country.

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    Our Kids

    10.3 hrs • 3/10/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 4.6 hrs • 1/21/2015 • Unabridged

    Bigger has turned out not to be better. Servicing the global economy has exacted a heavy toll in the erosion of our communities and the destruction of our environment. Increasingly, we are coming to realize that the way forward looks a lot like the way back—back to strong local economies, back to resilient, tight-knit communities, back to the land and work that is real. As we chart our course through these uncertain times, we are hungry for inspiration. Robert Swann was a self-taught economist, a tireless champion of decentralism, and the father of the relocalization movement. A conscientious war resistor imprisoned for his beliefs, Bob Swann engaged in lifelong nonviolent direct action against war, racism, and economic inequity. His legacy is a vision of a life-affirming, alternative economy of peace founded on innovations in land and monetary reform. Swann’s story is also the untold history of decentralism in the United States.  Swann forged tools to build productive, resilient local and regional economies. Now as global industrial civilization flails in the throes of ecological and economic crisis, Swann’s working innovations are at the ready to help neighborhoods, local entrepreneurs, and willing communities to rebuild at appropriate scales.

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    On Gandhi’s Path

    4.6 hrs • 1/21/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 10.2 hrs • 10/7/2014 • Unabridged

    In a searing indictment of America’s decline, former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert profiles struggling Americans—casualties of decades of government policies that have produced underemployment, inequality, and pointless wars—and offers a ringing call to arms to restore justice and the American dream. The United States needs to be reimagined. Once described by Lincoln as the last best hope on earth, the country seemed on the verge of fulfilling its immense promise in the mid-1960s and early 1970s: unemployment was low, wages and profits were high, and the nation’s wealth—by today’s standards—was distributed in a remarkably equitable fashion. America was a society confident that it could bring a middle-class standard of living (at the very least) and the full rights of citizenship to virtually everyone. This sense of possibility has evaporated. In this book longtime New York Times columnist Bob Herbert combines devastating stories of suffering Americans with keen political analysis to show where decades of corporate greed, political apathy, and short-term thinking have led: America’s infrastructure is crumbling, our schools fail our children, unnecessary wars maim our young men, and underemployment plagues a generation. He traces how the United States went wrong, exposing the slow, dangerous shift of political influence from the working population in the 1960s to the corporate and financial elite today, who act largely in their own self-interest. But the situation isn’t entirely hopeless. Herbert argues that by tapping the creative ideas of people across the country who are implementing solutions at the local level, the middle class can reassert its power, put the economy back on track, and usher in a new progressive era.

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    Losing Our Way

    10.2 hrs • 10/7/14 • Unabridged
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  7. 4.3 hrs • 6/24/2014 • Unabridged

    This audiobook has a simple message for business leaders: your primary goal must be to serve and raise the poor. The poor need to enter the economic system to buy products, put money in banks, and move into the middle class. This is the only approach that can possibly save the American Dream. John Hope Bryant, successful self-made businessman and founder of the nonprofit Operation HOPE, says business and political leaders are ignoring the one force that could truly re-energize the stalled American economy: the poor. If we give poor communities the right tools, policies, and inspiration, he argues, they will be able to lift themselves up into the middle class and become a new generation of customers and entrepreneurs. Raised in poverty-stricken, gang-infested South Central Los Angeles, Bryant saw firsthand how our institutions have abandoned the poor. He details how business loans, home loans, and financial investments have vanished from their communities. After decades of deprivation, the poor lack bank accounts, decent credit scores, and any real firsthand experience of how a healthy free enterprise system functions. Bryant radically redefines the meaning of poverty and wealth. He exposes why attempts to aid the poor so far have fallen short and offers a way forward: the HOPE Plan, a series of straightforward, actionable steps to build financial literacy and expand opportunity so that the poor can join the middle class. Fully 70 percent of the American economy is driven by consumer spending, but more and more people have too much month at the end of their money. John Hope Bryant aspires to “expand the philosophy of free enterprise to include all of God’s children” and create a thriving economy that works not just for the 1 percent or even the 99 percent but for the 100 percent. This is a free enterprise approach to solving the problem of poverty and raising up a new America.

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    How the Poor Can Save Capitalism

    4.3 hrs • 6/24/14 • Unabridged
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  8. 6.2 hrs • 5/6/2014 • Unabridged

    The #1 bestselling author and popular radio and television host Glenn Beck considers the hot-button issue of education in the US, exposing the weaknesses of the Common Core school curriculum and examining why liberal solutions fail. Public education is never mentioned in the constitution. Why? Because our founders knew that it was an issue for state and local governments—not the federal one. It’s not a coincidence that the more the federal government has inserted itself into public education over the years, the worse our kids have fared. Washington dangles millions of dollars in front of states and then tells them what they have to do to get it. It’s backdoor nationalization of education—and it’s leading us to ruin. In Conform, Glenn Beck presents a well-reasoned, fact-based analysis that proves it’s not more money our schools need—it’s a complete refocusing of their priorities and a total restructuring of their relationship with the federal government. In the process, he dismantles many of the common myths and talking points that are often heard by those who want to protect the status quo:Critics of the current system are just teacher bashersTeachers’ unions put kids firstHomeschooled kids suffer both academically and sociallyLocal control is an excuse to protect mediocrityCommon Core is rigorous and state ledCritics of Common Core are just conspiracy theoristsElementary school teachers need tenureWe can’t reform schools until we eradicate povertySchool choice takes money away from public schoolsCharter schools perform poorly relative to public schools There is no issue more important to America’s future than education. The fact that we’ve yielded control over it to powerful unions and ideologically driven elitists is inexcusable. We are failing ourselves, our children, and our country. Conform gives parents the facts they need to take back the debate and help usher in a new era of education built around the commonsense principles of choice, freedom, and accountability.

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    Conform

    6.2 hrs • 5/6/14 • Unabridged
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  9. 8.3 hrs • 9/12/2013 • Unabridged

    New York is a city of highs and lows, where wealthy elites share the streets with desperate immigrants and destitute locals. Bridging this economic divide is New York’s underground economy, the invisible network of illicit transactions between rich and poor that secretly weaves together the whole city. Sudhir Venkatesh, acclaimed sociologist at Columbia University and author of Gang Leader for a Day, returns to the streets to connect the dots of New York’s divergent economic worlds and crack the code of the city’s underground economy. Based on Venkatesh’s interviews with prostitutes and socialites, immigrants and academics, high-end drug bosses and street-level dealers, Floating City exposes the underground as the city’s true engine of social transformation and economic prosperity, revealing a wholly unprecedented vision of New York. A memoir of sociological investigation, Floating City draws from Venkatesh’s decade of research within the affluent communities of Upper East Side socialites and Midtown businessmen, the drug gangs of Harlem and the sex workers of Brooklyn, the artists of Tribeca and the escort services of Hell’s Kitchen. Venkatesh arrived in the city after his groundbreaking research in Chicago, where crime remained stubbornly local: gangs stuck to their housing projects and criminals stayed on their corners. But in Floating City, Venkatesh discovers that New York’s underground economy unites instead of divides inhabitants: a vast network of “off the books” transactions linking the high and low worlds of the city. Venkatesh shows how dealing in drugs and sex and undocumented labor bridges the conventional divides between rich and poor, unmasking a city knit together by the invisible threads of the underground economy. Planting himself squarely within this unexplored world, Venkatesh closely follows a dozen New Yorkers locked in the underground economy. Bangledeshi shop clerks like Manjun and Santosh navigate immense networks of illegal goods and services, connecting inquisitive tourists with sex workers and drug dealers. Hispanic prostitutes like Angela and Carla feel secure enough in the new city to leave their old neighborhoods behind in pursuit of bigger money, yet abandon all the safety they had when their clients were known locals. Rich uptown women like Analise and Brittany have the changing city at their beck and call, but both turn to sex work as an easy way to make ends meet without relying on their family fortunes. Venkatesh’s greatest guide is Shine, an African American drug boss based in Harlem who hopes to break into the elusive, upscale cocaine market. Without connections among wealthy whites, Shine undertakes an audacious campaign of self-reinvention, leaving behind the certainties of race and class with all the drive of the greatest entrepreneurs. As Shine explains to Venkatesh, “This is New York! We’re like hummingbirds, man. We go flower to flower…Here you need to float.” Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy chronicles Venkatesh’s decade of discovery and loss in the shifting terrain of New York, where research subjects might disappear suddenly and new allies emerge by chance, where close friends might reveal themselves to be criminals of the lowest order. Propelled by Venkatesh’s numerous interviews and firsthand research, Floating City at its heart is a story of one man struggling to understand a complex global city constantly in the throes of becoming.

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    Floating City

    8.3 hrs • 9/12/13 • Unabridged
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  10. 10.6 hrs • 6/18/2013 • Unabridged

    As the world gets smaller, hotter, and flatter, people from different cultures are colliding like never before: 1. East Asian students now dominate Western schools and workplaces, yet crash into the so-called “bamboo ceiling” before reaching the top.2. Women are getting stuck as they rocket up the corporate ladder, while men are falling off the ladder altogether.3. The have-nots still struggle in the classrooms of the haves, widening the gap between rich and poor.4. Many African Americans, Latinos, and other people of color know that discrimination keeps them down while many whites sincerely believe that race no longer matters.5. The politics of conservative Protestants frighten Americans of other religions, while the politics of more mainstream traditions infuriate the conservatives.6. Midwesterners and Southerners get depressed when they relocate to the East or West Coast, and vice versa.7. Despite the need for more collaboration, partnerships between governments, businesses, and nonprofits too often fail.8. Governments in the global north and global south still can’t agree about what counts as “fair,” “honest,” and “efficient.” Although each of these eight conflicts seems unique, we reveal that many stem from the same root cause: the tension between people using the independent, separate, and in-control side of their selves, versus people using the interdependent, connected, and adjusting side. We also show how people can nudge their cultures to call forth their best selves. By knowing when and how to use our different selves, we may not just survive, but thrive in the twenty-first century.

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    Clash!

    10.6 hrs • 6/18/13 • Unabridged
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  11. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    9.4 hrs • 4/1/2012 • Unabridged

    Beginning in the 1950s, America entered a period of unprecedented social reform. This remarkable book demonstrates how the social programs of the 1960s and ’70s had the unintended and perverse effect of slowing and even reversing earlier progress in reducing poverty, crime, ignorance, and discrimination. Using widely understood and accepted data, it conclusively demonstrates that the amalgam of reforms from 1965 to 1970 actually made matters worse. Why? Charles Murray’s tough-minded answers to this question will please neither radical liberals nor radical conservatives. He offers no easy solutions, but by forcing us to face fundamental intellectual and moral problems about whom we want to help and how, Losing Ground marks an important first step in rethinking social policy.

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    Losing Ground by Charles Murray

    Losing Ground

    9.4 hrs • 4/1/12 • Unabridged
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  12. 8.4 hrs • 11/21/2011 • Unabridged

    Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett offer groundbreaking analysis showing that greater economic equality—not greater wealth—is the mark of the most successful societies and offer new ways to achieve it. It is a well-established fact that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. The Spirit Level, based on thirty years of research, takes this truth a step further. One common factor links the healthiest and happiest societies: the degree of equality among their members. Further, more unequal societies are bad for everyone within them—the rich and middle class as well as the poor. The remarkable data assembled in The Spirit Level exposes stark differences not only among the nations of the first world but even within America’s fifty states. Almost every modern social problem—poor health, violence, lack of community life, teen pregnancy, mental illness—is more likely to occur in a less-equal society. Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett lay bare the contradictions between material success and social failure in the developed world. But they do not merely tell us what’s wrong. They offer a way toward a new political outlook, shifting from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, more sustainable society.

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    The Spirit Level

    Foreword by Robert B. Reich
    Read by Clive Chafer
    8.4 hrs • 11/21/11 • Unabridged
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  13. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    9.3 hrs • 11/17/2010 • Unabridged

    “My name is Wendell Potter, and for twenty years I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies. I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick—all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.”—Senate testimony, June 24, 2009 Wendell Potter is the insurance industry’s worst nightmare. In June 2009, Potter made national headlines with his scorching testimony before the Senate panel on health care reform. This former senior vice president of CIGNA explained how health insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, how they flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and how they skew political debate with multibillion-dollar public relations campaigns designed to spread disinformation. Potter had walked away from a six-figure salary and two decades as an insurance executive, because he could no longer abide the routine practices of an industry where the needs of sick and suffering Americans take a backseat to the bottom line. The last straw was when he visited a rural health clinic and saw hundreds of people standing in line in the rain to receive treatment in stalls built for livestock. In Deadly Spin, Potter takes listeners behind the scenes to show how a huge chunk of our absurd health care spending actually bankrolls a propaganda campaign and lobbying effort focused on protecting one thing: profits. Whatever the fate of the current health care legislation, it makes no attempt to change that fundamental problem. Potter shows how relentless PR assaults play an insidious role in our political process anywhere that corporate profits are at stake—from climate change to defense policy. Deadly Spin tells us why—and how—we must fight back.

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    Deadly Spin

    9.3 hrs • 11/17/10 • Unabridged
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  14. 9.0 hrs • 6/17/2010 • Unabridged

    This is the story of a man who searched his conscience, decided that the American Dream should be colorblind, and then set out to change the rules. Part memoir, part history lesson, and part road map, Creating Equal tells how a black man fought against affirmative action in California and Washington state. It begins in segregated Louisiana with a hard-working, resilient family that refused to be destroyed by personal tragedy or to be defined by race. This is where Ward Connerly grew up. In 1993, he would be called to make the most difficult decision of his life: to convince the regents of the University of California to end affirmative action. Two years later, he did the same thing for Washington state.

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    Creating Equal by Ward Connerly

    Creating Equal

    9.0 hrs • 6/17/10 • Unabridged
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  15. 5.8 hrs • 7/8/2008 • Unabridged

    America in the ’aughts—hilariously skewered, brilliantly dissected, and darkly diagnosed by one of the country’s most prominent social critics Barbara Ehrenreich’s widely acclaimed This Land Is Their Land takes the measure of what we are left with after the cruelest decade in memory and finds lurid extremes all around. While members of the moneyed elite have bought up congressmen, many in the working class can barely buy lunch. While a wealthy minority obsessively consumes cosmetic surgery, the poor often go without health care for their children. And while the masters of the universe have thrown themselves into the casino economy, the less fortunate have been fed a diet of morality, marriage, and abstinence. With perfect satiric pitch, Ehrenreich reveals a country scarred by deepening inequality, corroded by distrust, and shamed by its official cruelty.

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    This Land Is Their Land

    5.8 hrs • 7/8/08 • Unabridged
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  16. 10.5 hrs • 6/1/2008 • Unabridged

    Did you know that pollutants and estrogen from contraceptives are causing male fish in America to develop female sex organs? Or that ethanol, the liberals’ favorite fuel, is destroying the world’s rainforests? We hear about AIDS in Africa, but the number one killer of children in Africa is malaria, and guess who banned the pesticide that used to have malaria under control? Iain Murray’s exposé reveals how environmental blowhards actually do more to waste energy, endanger species, and kill people than those they finger while capitalism, hunting, and old-fashioned property rights have made the planet better.

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    The Really Inconvenient Truths by Iain Murray

    The Really Inconvenient Truths

    10.5 hrs • 6/1/08 • Unabridged
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