Provokes, Overlooks, Inspires, Read Reviews First,, Then Buy,
I've said for some time now that Amazon is a virtual university, and that I consider the reviews of any book to be at least the equal of the book as educational material. This certainly applies to the reviews inspired by this provocative book by Lou Dobbs, and I give both the book, and the reviews, high marks when taken together.
It is clear that Lou Dobbs is both an intelligent patriot, and somewhat simplistic in his presentation. This does not diminish the value of what he has offered us, but we have to frame it in the right way: this is a one hour read, from Boston to DC, and needs to seen in the context of my other 1000+ reviews of national security non-fiction.
Dobbs does take on added importance, together with Stephen Flynn's book, America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism, because Dobbs helps us understand that we do not have a proper trade strategy nor a related demographic and employment strategy. To those who would say “let the free market do its work” I would point out that the free market would not raise national armies, collect taxes, or provide social security. Some things have to be done by the Nation and its State governments, and one of those “duties” is to conserve and enhance national power from “the bottom up”, meaning the population's ability to produce and to fight.
There is a related concern: when goods are created by foreign workers earning $1 per hour, instead of US workers earning $15 per hour (as discussed on page 11), two bad things happen: the first is that the goods tend to be less lasting in nature–more throw-away products that thus consume precious metal, plastic, etc (this is less applicable in IT, where Indian programmers cost 1/10th and are as good or better than US programmers); and second, they have to be transported, using tons of oil and other fuels. These are called “trade-offs.” I'm not an economist, but I do believe that in a limited growth natural environment, and in an unstable world, it makes sense to localize or regionalize as much of your agricultural, light manufacturing, and energy production as possible. Sustainable environments range from local to global, but they start with the local.
The author spends some time identifying and negating twelve “myths” associated with outsourcing jobs, and I for one find these valuable, and would consider any politician unable to address the points that Dobbs makes to be unqualified to be President (I am mindful of the possibility that no one qualified to be President might actually be able to earn the nomination).
Finally, and this is a criticism of Dobbs, I think he misses the main point, and it is one that is made very ably by Peter Peterson in “Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It as well as others writing about democracy: there is no single issue or challenge facing America that could not be more ably addressed if the people were informed and engaged and actually had the power to vote on the matter. Although Dobbs notes, as does Peterson (who is Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, and hence no liberal), that corporate America, and the two “main parties”, no longer represent America or American labor or the American voter, he does not focus on this as the core issue. This in my view *is* the key issue. When Dobbs asks America to vote on CNN, as he did last night, and the only issues he presents are a few foreign/defense versus economic/health issues, I ask myself: what doesn't he understand? These are dog on dog issues. The “dog-catcher” issue in America is this: does our vote count, not only in politics, but in the workplace? The answer is NO, and around that answer, we should be building a popular revolution that demands a Constitutional Convention and a completely open election in 2006. We need to churn Congress, join labor unions, and take back the power.
Newer books by Lou Dobbs, with reviews:
Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit
War on the Middle Class: How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War onthe American Dream and How to Fight Back
Other books that complement his earnest populist investigative journalist campaign to be an advocate for We the People:
Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart
State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future – and What It Will Take to Win It Back
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism: How the Financial System Underminded Social Ideals, Damaged Trust in the Markets, Robbed Investors of Trillions – and What to Do About It