6 Star Holy Cow! “Insider” Speaks Truth, Tars Both Parties,
July 25, 2005
Peter G. Peterson
Edit of 9 Jan 15 to elevate to 6 stars. In the context of the hundreds of books I have reviewed (see my master list easily found, Worth a Look: Democracy Lost & Found Essay, Book Review Blurbs and Links, this book stands out as one of the earliest and most thoughtful — still a classic, still relevant. SIX STARS.
Edit of 16 Apr 08 to add more links on the bad and the good.
Edit of 17 Jan 07 to add links.
UPDATED 15 Dec 07 Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial BranchesThis extraordinary book should be read in tandem with Lewis H. Lapham’s Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy and perhaps also William Greider’s The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy as well as Jonathan Schell’s The Unconquerable World.
I find it extraordinary to have the Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, which I have always considered to be an old man’s club of established elites, largely out of touch with 80% of the real world (that is to say, the 80% that has almost nothing in the way of wealth, health, or rights), step up to the plate and speak truth.This book addresses the second core issue in America’s future, i.e. the twin deficits that are not only going to kill the business of America, but also deprive the children of America of their future. (Lapham addresses the first: restoration of honest democracy). In combination, the $7 trillion deficit in federal spending, and the $500 billion a year trade deficit, with roughly $2 billion in foreign loans being required every single day to keep America afloat, both suggest that we are snorting political cocaine and every one of us is a damn fool for allowing two political parties to get away with selling us down the river.As the author points out in the Preface, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautions its own master, the USA, that it is in danger of becoming an insolvent Third World country, running up bills that “would require an immediate and permanent 60 percent hike in the federal income tax, or a 50 percent cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits,” we cannot say we have not been warned.The author is balanced, focused, deliberative, and earnest. He carefully explains how both the “mainstream” political parties have completely abdicated all responsibility, and completely betrayed the public interest in their eagerness to sell legislation to the highest corporate bidders.
There is one grievous flaw in the book. In concluding that we can only survive by educating ourselves and then finding our voice, the author neglects to address the fast means of achieving short-term fiscal recovery in tandem with campaign finance and electoral reform: the elimination of subsidies, tax fraud, and tax relief for corporations. We have close to a trillion in unwarranted and unsound subsidies to poor agricultural, fisheries, forestry, and minerals programs where every dollar in subsidy is yielding high long-term costs to the taxpayer citizen; we have over $50 billion a year in documented import-export tax fraud ($25 rocket engines going out, $3000 toothbrushes coming in–advanced money laundering and tax avoidance); finally, the corporate share of federal tax revenue has dropped from 32% to 6% in the past twenty years, with corporations like Halliburton paying $15M in taxes on billions in profit–easy to fix: pay taxes on the profit declared to the stockholders.
See also the more recently published book by John Bogle, Wall Street mutual funds giant, The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism, in which he singled the author of this book out for special praise. What this means is that Wall Street and the “elite” now realize, as Dean Garten from Yale tried to tell them in The Politics of Fortune: A New Agenda For Business Leaders, we are all in this together, government is hosed, labor is vital, morality and integrity are non-negotiable foundations for mutual prosperity. 2008 could be the foundation year of the 2nd American Republic.
See also (with reviews):
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration
A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq
The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders