Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American DreamRaising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by Andy Stern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very Compelling - “Why a Universal Basic Income (UBI)?” Author Andy Stern’s supporting arguments span from a solid macroeconomic logic and his thorough understanding of the “Future of Work” that involve ‘replacement of workers’ and an increase in inequality due to what is the natural trajectory in technology, globalization, power of the elite, and etc in the 21st century.

This book is a leading 21st century bipartisan thought-leadership piece on how we can solve poverty in the United States. As a political science/economics graduate who has read a lot of development literature, it is rare to find a book that not only states the issues at hand, but a solution, and a set of potential policies to follow. In the end, he lays out where the funding would come from, what other factors would have to be present, and what it’d take in politics to implement a UBI.

From start to finish, this book was a page-turner and is very compelling. I would recommend this book to anyone at any stage of the UBI spectrum. View all my reviews

The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better LifeThe Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We tend to blame ourselves for our everyday anxieties in society including unemployment, expensive healthcare, elderly care, not being able to pay for rent, not having good childcare and more. This book made me realize that so much of our anxieties are special to Americans and that our society is structured in a way that is anxiety-prone.

Hear this: Finland (where the author is from) provides free higher education, nearly free healthcare, 10 month paid parental leave, cheap child care, a low-stress work week, paid summer vacations that last for 5 weeks, a hefty unemployment insurance, the freedom to pursue art/creative careers, pensions, and more.

Imagine how people's anxieties would differ if we weren't stuck in the status quo.

Across the most important areas of life. Family, work, education, health, love, money --people in Nordic societies enjoy forms of individualism, freedom, social mobility, and independence from societal obligations that make them more quintessentially 'American' than what Americans themselves today are generally able to experience.

Nordic society allows people to have a basic floor (yes, healthcare and higher education is considered a 'right' in Finland) and to be able to provide an independent life free to anxieties that Americans have to face.

Does this mean I vote for Bernie Sanders? Not necessarily
Does this mean I think we should have free health care ASAP? No
Does this mean we should emulate the Nordic Model? No

Studying the Nordic model is an opportunity to pursue a deeper and more profound level of American-style individualism. All it requires is showing a little bit of faith in us and believe that there can be a society outside of the status quo. View all my reviews

The Unthinkable Revolution in IranThe Unthinkable Revolution in Iran by Charles Kurzman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Starting off with what first comes to mind, I thought The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran was fairly easy to read, organized, and thought-provoking. I enjoyed learning about the Iranian Revolution, however, I finished the book questioning how he drew his conclusion. His point of saying that social movements cannot be expected or predicted is logically valid but I do not agree that his few theoretical anomalies are the evidences that disregard the rest of his book entirely. I did not understand his word choice of “anomaly” because in economics or in sciences, we would treat anomalies on data plots as unimportant and would not use those instances to draw any causational conclusions. This made it confusing for me to understand several instances of his argument, especially the Mosque Mobilization chapter. The sentence “there is evidence that supports each one of them, but there is evidence that doesn’t fit” (163) draws attention to the wrong conclusion of data because I think that the instances that “did not fit” cannot entirely disregard an explanation. On top of this, I felt like his “Anti-Explanation”-Explanation slightly contradicted to the point.

I did really enjoy learning about the power of rumors in a social movement. When the truth was two or three casualties in a student strike, the rumors spread amongst people with the facts twisted to become 100+ casualties (37). In another protest there were rumors that 99% of Iranians were participating (126), when in reality those numbers were far off.

My question is: if we were to say that Kurzam’s meta argument is true that social movements are unpredictable, then how do we explain successful protests that came about by rumors predicting social uprise?

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