Posts Tagged ‘Jon Stewart’

Aught Lang Syne: The Decade in Nonfiction, Part I

Last week, NPI gave an overview of fiction (in two parts!) of the Aughts. Yesterday, Josh pointed out the popular economics trend in this decade’s nonfiction. Today, Josh and John are going over (in two parts!) what they believe are the biggest nonfiction books of the Aughts.

America: The Book – Jon Stewart and The Daily Show writers

I bought this book for a good friend at a surprise birthday party in high school, as did another friend of mine unbeknownst to me. My copy was not kept since I didn’t write a note inside mine. I considered frowning. But, this situation nonetheless demonstrated the book’s appeal.  America: The Book is funny and representative of the politically satirical form of comedy that Stewart engendered in the Aughts through The Daily Show. The book is filled with little tidbits like: “Were you Aware? Cloture is something all Senators seek when a piece of beloved legislation dies.” There are also asides written by Stephen Colbert and Ed Helms. But, America: The Book is insightful as well as humorous; if a scholar in a future decade wanted to understand the American political climate in the early 2000s, this is one book he should examine, particularly the chapter on The Future of Democracy.

–Josh

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It – Paul Collier

In this book, development economist (and a former lecturer of mine) Paul Collier looks at the most impoverished countries in the world (home to about one billion individuals) and asks why they are experiencing so little growth. Explanations seem to occur in fours in the Aughts; there are four development traps that each of these countries typically suffer from: the conflict trap, the natural resource trap, landlocked with bad neighbors, and bad governance, particularly in small countries. While many of Collier’s suggestions are difficult to implement, the most promising is that trade policy needs to lower trade barriers for the Bottom Billion, giving preferential access to their exports. Another important highlight of this book is his attack on the misguided policies of NGOs and other charitable organizations. Ultimately, Collier popularized and integrated his important and informative empirical studies into one of the Aughts’ best development nonfiction books of the decade.

–Josh

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Stewart! Kristol! It’s Health Care Debate 2009 on Comedy Central!

tdskristolThis video has been makings its way around the old internets recently, like so many of Jon Stewart’s interviews do these days. It features William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, discussing his issues with Obama’s health care plan in a responsible, reasoned manner…and I mean that in most sarcastic way possible.

Kristol is, of course, spewing conservative talking points and Stewart, as he often does, get him to stumble a little over them. The real knock-out line that liberals have seized on is Kristol’s admission that the military deserves better health care than average American citizens do. Since military health care is public, Stewart twists this into an admission that government-run health care is better than private health care.

I don’t like Bill Kristol and I don’t think he handles himself well here, but I think he is kind of right. First of all, of course the government insures soldiers. That goes along with America’s (ridiculous) employer-provided health care system, since soldiers, like elected officials (who also have a government-run plan), are government employees. Rather than paying for a private insurer the Defense Department runs the Military Health Service itself. Continue reading