DMI Blog

Amy Traub

Holiday Reading

If you're anything like me, you're planning to spend some of your holiday downtime catching up on reading. It's wonderful to spend time with family and friends, but also nice to get a few hours alone, curled up with some inspiring new ideas - and engaging old ones - for the New Year. Allow me to make a few suggestions:

The Pitch for DMI: There's no better bargain than From Disaster to Diversity: What's Next for New York City's Economy? available for free download here. This volume - the Drum Major Institute's first foray into book publishing - is a collection of essays that features major voices from government, public policy, advocacy, and journalism presenting lively ideas and recommendations for the city's economic future. If you're depressed by the latest unemployment figures and wondering how they city's ever going to pull itself out, this is your must-read.

Favorite Report of the Year: As Research Director at the Drum Major Institute, I could never pick a favorite DMI report, but I have no trouble identifying the most powerful and compelling research brief I've read from another organization. That distinction goes to "Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America's Cities," by a consortium of researchers from UCLA, the University of Illinois, and the National Employment Law Project. I'll admit it isn't cheerful holiday reading, but it is the necessary, research-based account of how the nation's low-wage workers are routinely cheated in the workplace. If nothing else, it gives us an urgent agenda for reform in 2010.

Favorite Book of the Year: I highly recommend Andrea Batista Schlesinger's The Death of "Why?" which energetically probes how a culture addicted to easy answers can return to the type of genuine inquiry democracy requires. But I'll also suggest my favorite non-DMI book of the year, historian Kim Phillips-Fein's fascinating account of the rise of the pro-business Right, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan. Key to Phillips-Fein's story is the establishment of right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, which provided (and continue to provide) the intellectual infrastructure to turn radical right-wing rhetoric into political reality. So, of course, there is a DMI connection: if you value us as a counterweight to these conservative idea factories, we'd welcome your year-end support.

Ammunition for Family Arguments: Finally, if you need to arm yourself at the last-minute for a heated holiday dinner conversation about exactly what caused the economic mess we're in, check out economist Joseph Stiglitz's quick, easy-to-follow "whodunit" of our national economic murder mystery (pdf)

Looking for more? DMI's 2009 Year in Review includes more recommended reading and slightly longer takes on those discussed above. Happy Holidays, and Happy Reading!

Amy Traub: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 8:26 AM, Dec 24, 2009 in
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