Book Bits: 21 January 2023

Edible Economics: A Hungry Economist Explains the World
Ha-Joon Chang
Summary via publisher (Public Affairs Books)
For decades, a single, free-market philosophy has dominated global economics. But this intellectual monoculture is bland and unhealthy. Bestselling author and economist Ha-Joon Chang makes challenging economic ideas delicious by plating them alongside stories about food from around the world, using the diverse histories behind familiar food items to explore economic theory. For Chang, chocolate is a lifelong addiction, but more exciting are the insights it offers into postindustrial knowledge economies; and while okra makes Southern gumbo heart-meltingly smooth, it also speaks of capitalism’s entangled relationship with freedom. Myth-busting, witty, and thought-provoking, Edible Economics serves up a feast of bold ideas about globalization, climate change, immigration, austerity, automation, and why carrots need not be orange.

Beyond Economic Migration: Social, Historical, and Political Factors in US Immigration
Edited by Min Zhou and Hasan Mahmud
Summary via publisher (NYU Press)
Most understandings of migration to the US focus on two primary factors. Either there was trouble in the home country, such as political unrest or famine, that pushed people out, or there was a general yearning for “a better life” or “more opportunity,” often conceptualized as the American Dream. Although many contemporary migrants in the United States have been driven by economic interests, the processes of immigration and integration are shaped also by the intersection of a range of noneconomic factors in both sending and receiving countries. The contributors to Beyond Economic Migration offer a nuanced look at a range of issues affecting motives to migrate and outcomes of integration, including US immigration policy and the visa system, labor market incorporation, employment precarity, identity and belonging, and transnationalism relating to female migrants, student migrants, and temporary foreign workers.

Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies: The politics of saving the planet
Neil McCulloch
Summary via publisher (Practical Action Publishing)
Fossil fuel subsidies are killing both people and the planet. By encouraging excessive consumption of fossil fuels, subsidies exacerbate pollution and climate change, make violent protests more likely, and waste huge sums that could be used far better. Yet for years there has been minimal progress in eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. This book explains what fossil fuel subsidies are, how they inflict harm and what steps are being taken to reduce them. It also shows why subsidies persist and why existing efforts have been so ineffective. Drawing lessons from countries which have tried to remove fossil fuel subsidies, it explains that the fundamental challenge to reform is not technical, but political.

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