Short Smart List, Not a Roadmap or Game Plan
November 28, 2010
I almost did not buy this book because I know all this stuff already, but out of respect for the author, who is one of a number of individuals including Jim Fallows, William Greider, Matt Miller, Margaret Wheatley, and Tom Atlee that I consider deeply ethical and inspired, I went ahead and bought it.
As expected, the book is a straight-forward, easy-to-understand “checklist” of eleven things in eleven short chapters, that will “save America.” This is where the book almost lost a star, because as good as the list is, it lacks both context and detail–there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by restoring the Constitution and demanding Electoral Reform legislation by 4 July 2011–and Thom, brilliant as he is, has not connected to the idea of Collective Intelligence and the urgency of harnessing the distributed intelligence of our Commonwealth.
Here is the “checklist” with very short critical comments.
01 Bring manufacturing jobs home. Yes, it will take decades. Most jobs are NOT coming back.
02 Roll back Reagan tax cuts. Agree, but does not go far enough. End personal income taxes and adopt the Automatic Transaction Payment (APT) tax.
03 End crony capitalism and too-big-too fail. The root problem is the two-party tyranny. Electoral Reform is the non-negotiable first step back toward greatness, see David Broder at Phi Beta Iota.
04 An informed and educated electorate. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were there first, “A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry,” “Those who mean to govern….” etc. This is half the solution, the other half is creating a Smart Nation, something I have been advocating since 1995, and the reason I would appoint Michael Bloomberg as Vice President for Education, Intelligence, & Research, so as to both move $60 billion from secret waste to public education and research; and to demand that all information funded by the public be available to the public, online, free.
05 Medicare for Everybody. This is where the lack of broader knowledge and the urge to simplify cause me grief. First off, eliminating the Congressional mandate that we not negotiate for prices is why we way 100 times more for medications than Brazil, China, Thailand, or South Africa, to name just four. Second, health policy comes in four parts when a government is not corrupt: healthy lifestyle, healthy environment, alternative & natural cures, and last and least, medical and pharmaceutical intervention. HEALTH is the poster child for everything that is wrong with the US government, the US culture, and the inert foolish US public.
06 NASCAR Patches for Congress. This is cute but annoying. Electoral Reform ends corporate involvement in elections and governance with the exception of being a full participant in information sharing and sense-making among the eight tribes of intelligence (academic, civil society, commercial, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental). Electoral Reform forces all legislation into the open prior to vote, and also forces line items scrutiny by the public, down to the zip code level, in advance of vote.
07 End Fossil Energy Dependence. This is one of the better chapters among an already good bunch, and resonated with me. What Thom is missing here is Buckminster Fuller’s emphasis on comprehensive design that also eliminates the underlying early industrial era insistence on waste in the construction of home and work environments with very expensive and unnecessary central generation (electricity) and receiving (sewage) infrastructure. Infinite free sustainable energy is achievable now, but NOT as a pipe dream of natural gas harvesting and centralized wind farms, but rather as a just-enough just in time local application that leverages all forms in renewable ways LOCALLY. This includes the need to achieve distributed small cities (100,000 maximum) linked by high-speed rail. My review of Buckminster Fuller’s 1928 book, Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure is essential to appreciating both Thom’s brilliance, and the areas where additional reflections would be helpful.
08 Bring Military Home, Offer the Good. Many of us have been advocating reform of the military (the poster child for cronnyism and waste until Goldman Sachs figured out how to do financial bubbles) for decades. This short chapter is a very light mix of downsize the military and bring our troops home for EVERYWHERE (over 750 bases worldwide) and of how (the blinding mid-Atlantic insight) we should offer only the good.
09 Illegal Immigration is Illegal Business. This chapter was one where the author weaves a number of themes together very very well, and may be the best in the whole book. The recommendations (starting with the title, “Put Lou Dobbs Out to Pasture,” and going on toward achieving sound economic policy that does not permit paying illegal workers at all, along with bringing back the unions, all warmed my heart and passed my brain test. Illegal immigration is a problem created by the two-party tyranny and the US Chamber of Commerce. INTEGRITY is all that is needed to eliminate it.
10 Corporate personality (“Wal-Mart is NOT a Person”) begins with a repetition of a story I have heard before but never seen fully documented, that the Supreme Court did NOT grant personality status to corporations but a court reporter erroneously created a record that they did–the recent Supreme Court ruling is so treasonous as to warrant public scorn and a search for impeachment possibilities. Organizations are not people, this is so basic I cannot consider any candidate for President to be honest unless they vow to end this crime against humanity in our legal system.
11 In the Shadow of the Dragon is about the possibilities of employee-owned companies and getting back to ethical capitalism that restores the connection between production useful to humanity, and well-off consumers who can support a cycle of constant innovation INCLUDING social and ecological efficiencies. I learned from this chapter.
I am limited to 10 links so am going back up to insert another nine. I read in 98 categories, Amazon refuses all my suggestions (e.g. allow readers to select reviewers and then see what they have reviewed in specific categories such as democracy or education), so I finally did it myself at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, where you can also see my special lists including the two that support my latest book, INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty. Those two lists are my best offering for anyone who likes to read and think, all my reviews being both summative of the book in question, and free online.