CTJ/ITEP Staff Summer Fun List Selections

We’re in the midst of summer and besides analyzing tax policies and scouring corporate financials, our staff is enjoying the warm temps, sunshine and time outside. Normally we provide summer book recommendations as a way to demonstrate that we are not all tax all the time. But this summer,  we’re really showing our non-wonk range and expanding our picks beyond books.  Enjoy this hodgepodge of staff suggestions and maybe add one or two of them to your things-to-do-this-summer list:

Watch the new documentary “The Price We Pay” by Harold Crooks
Harold Crooks’ “The Price We Pay” provides a deep dive into the offshore tax haven system that has allowed multinational corporations to dodge billions in taxes across the world. No other documentary in recent years has provided such an informative and engaging look into how corporations created the offshore tax system and what we as citizens need to do to stop this behavior. – Richard Phillips

Read Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

After his hugely successful 2013 book, Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan followed up with 2015’s China Rich Girlfriend. Both are of the ridiculous guilty pleasure genre. Kwan’s engaging storytelling skills are apparent, but it’s not the narrative arc that will make your jaw drop so much as the glimpse it provides into the lives of the world’s globe-trotting mega rich. Kwan says his books are works of fiction, though loosely based on experiences from his childhood in Singapore. Perhaps Kwan’s descriptions of the opulent lifestyle of super wealthy Singapore denizens are hyperbole. Nonetheless, for a progressive tax policy advocate like me, the books serve as reinforcement that the world’s richest citizens are doing more than just fine, and they most certainly can afford to pay their fair share in taxes. – Jenice Robinson

Read The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

“God gave Noah the rainbow sign; no more water, the fire next time!” In this short but very heavy work that also inspired Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Baldwin writes to his young nephew, attempting to impart a message of hope and love without sugar coating the dismal reality of race relations in the United Sttes. The result is a powerful, poetic , and devastatingly honest confrontation with these issues and Baldwin’s own internal struggle to find the hope and will to push forward. Though it agitates more than inspires, The Fire Next Time will inevitably stir something in you, and you will certainly find it hard to complain about your taxes after reading it. – Dylan Grundman

Read The Green Boat by Mary Pipher

Like Baldwin, Pipher explores an issue that simultaneously threatens our society and our sanity: climate change. Writing that “humans have sailed into an emotional hurricane that no one knows how to navigate,” Pipher draws on her knowledge as a Psychology Ph.D. and her wisdom as a seasoned activist to help her readers get the sea legs and bearings required for this journey. Instead of allowing the enormity and abstractness of the issue to paralyze and depress us, “we can acquire the skills we need to overcome our sense of doom, and discover our capacities for transcendent coping.” Anyone working hard on changing intractable issues – whether they are social inequities, ecological challenges, or misguided tax policies – can learn and benefit from Pipher’s thoughtful and practical advice. – Dylan Grundman

Read Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow

This is a collection of Judd Apatow’s intimate and candid conversations with big names in the comedy business over the past 30 years. They cover everything from the art of the trade, to contemplative thoughts on life, love, the trials and errors of being a comedy nerd. Given the intensity of the upcoming election and some of the dire budget situations states will face heading into 2017, who couldn’t use a good laugh? – Aidan Russell Davis

Read The Legend Series by Marie Lu

If you are growing weary of political boxing and want to enjoy escapism to a United States that is nearly unrecognizable, reading the Legend trilogy is a must read. Follow teens June and Day on various adventures as they team up to “save” their country. It’s a roller coaster of a young adult trilogy. The New York Times says of the first book “Legend doesn’t merely survive the hype, it deserves it.”  – Kelly Davis

Listen to Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast

I’m enjoying Marc Maron’s WTF podcast that offers Maron’s stand-up riffing accompanied with honest, though-provoking conversations with actors, comedians, directors, and more. He even gets into some juicy policy talk in his garage. – Aidan Russell Davis

Listen to The Mortified Podcast

As an avid journal writer, people watcher, and story lover, this is a delightful podcast full of both laughs and tears perfect for 20 minute walk or car ride. The tagline also works as a good mantra for those engaged in state tax policy debates, especially when things don’t seem to be going so well–“We are freaks, we are fragile, and we all survived.” – Lisa Christensen Gee

Listen to On Being with Krista Tippett

If you’re craving substantive conversations on big topics, look no further than On Being. Exploring the questions,  “What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?,” these conversations remind me that there are so many people working for good in the world and helps me connect to additional resources that nourish and keep me energized in my piece of the work towards social transformation. – Lisa Christensen Gee

Listen to The Longest Shortest Time and Mom and Dad are Fighting

I’ve had all the ups and downs and in-betweens of tax policy battles over the last decade plus. But it’s parenting travails that have been on my mind since bringing a second child into this world earlier in the year.  When I want to be reminded that I am not the only mom struggling to get my almost 5 year old to “listen to my words” or trying to remember what it’s like to get a full night of uninterrupted sleep, I turn to two highly recommended podcasts: The Longest Shortest Time and Mom and Dad are FightingI especially appreciate that both are free of judgmental and dogmatic advice and instead focus on fresh stories and takes on parenting life that go far beyond answering mundane questions like “when can I start feeding my baby solids?” that I find myself googling as of late.   – Meg Wiehe

Listen to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton

As both a musical fan and tax wonk, it does not get any better than Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wildly successful musical Hamilton. The musical provides a beautiful and entertaining introduction into the life of Alexander Hamilton, the founding father that did more than anyone to set up our nation’s federal tax system. While the musical focuses a lot on the Revolutionary Way and Hamilton’s love life, it does include a fair amount of policy wonkiness. One scene that especially set me aflutter is the battle rap between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson over whether the newly formed national government should take on the wars debts of every state. – Richard Phillips

Happy Summer! If you enjoy any of our summer selections let us know! Write to kelly@itep.org or find us on twitter at @taxjustice or @iteptweets