Beyond 5 Stars, a Cornerstone Book, Most Extraordinary Strategic Depth
June 30, 2010
Amazon has recently been allowing longer reviews by inserting a “Read More” line and I hope this entire review is allowed to stand. It will also be posted to Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, with links back to Amazon.
This is a Beyond Five Stars book. Although there is a fine literature emerging on collective intelligence and wealth of networks–and there is an increasingly robust Open Money movement that also includes local communities currencies that keep the wealth local–this book does something no other book has done–it connects economics to humanity and reality and the intangibles in all their forms.
This is not a book about underground economies, barter systems, alternative currencies, etcetera. It is one of the most profoundly relevant, erudite yet easy to read books I have ever read, with a direct bearing on every aspect of human life, and in particular the role of government as it should be.
The author specifically quantifies the financial and intangible value of “getting along” and being part of deep interconnections that define, drive, and develop (or not) the hidden wealth of nations.
The author has provided an extraordinarily well-organized book with a well-presented series of chapters that left me with so many flyleaf notes I fear I will not do the author and the intellectual tour de force he has provided, quite enough justice. Buy and read the book. Tell elected and appointed leaders about it–or send them a copy of this review. [I am stunned that there are no other reviews as this book was published in 2009.]
First off, I'm back. After three months integrating into a field position with a prominent international organization, with three days off the whole time, I am finally able to get back to reading, and have about fifteen books on water I was going to read for UNESCO but will now read and review for myself. Look for two reviews a week from this point on, absent another tri-fecta (volcano, storm, minor coup).
This book is not about the politics of happiness. It is more about the possibilities of public administration of happiness.
This will be a long review–apart from the author being one of a handful to truly top-notch minds with a historical memory, the topic is important–much more important than I realized until I starting following unconventional economics (ecological economics, true cost, bio-mimicry, sustainable design, human development and non-financial wealth).
The author opens with Bhutan and its Gross National Happiness (GNH) concept, with four pillars (good governance, stable-equitable social development, environmental protection, preservation of culture). Elsewhere (on the web) I learn that the 72 indicators are divided into nine domains (time use, living standards, good governance, psychological wellbeing, community vitality, culture, health, education, and ecology).
The author identifies and discusses six factors pertinent to happiness in the US context as he defines it: Marriage; Social Relationships; Employment (wherein trust in management is VASTLY more important than the paycheck); Perceived Health; Religion (in sense of community not dogma) and Quality of Government (as which point I am reminded of George Will's superb Statecraft as Soulcraft; Quality of government is further divided into Rule of Law, Efficient Government, Low Violence and Corruption; High Degree of Trust in Public Officials and Especially Police; and Responsive Encounters by Citizens with Government.
Note: 30 million in US population are “not too happy.”
Chapter and Verse But No Footnotes–a Cornerstone Read
June 17, 2010
Jeffrey St. Clair
I come late to this book, published in 2005 and consisting of well-organized Op-Eds published in CounterPunch from 2000-2005. My review is primarily for my own benefit (my notes) and those who follow my reviews of non-fiction at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, where you can browse categories in a way that Amazon refuses to implement (e.g. see all my reviews on Corruption or on Pathology of Military Power, or on Government Crime, etcetera).
The lack of footnotes troubles me, not because I doubt the details this extraordinary author brings forward (including many details NOT covered by the 1,600 books I have reviewed, many centered on this very topic), but because I believe the author's body of work would be enhanced if he included footnotes–I would go so far as to respectfully suggest that he write and publish on his personal blog the version with footnotes and links, and then publish the “clean” version at CounterPunch with a link to the notes version.
The best thing I can say about this specific book is that regardless of how many other books you might have read (I list ten suggestions with links at the end of this review), this book has details the other books do not have. It is a must read, and most especially so in the aftermath of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates meeting with Lockheed and other CEO's to assure them that the money will keep on coming–I was utterly stunned when I read that, and realize that for all of his intelligence, Robert Gates has zero interest in actually defending America–he's the Chief Thief. As he attempts to place Jim Clapper in the position as Director of National Intelligence, which oversees $75 billion a year in waste, I can only shake my head–Chief Thief and Mini-Me Thief. It is time the American people, led by Grover Norquist, leader of Americans for Tax Reform, to engaged in a massive tax revolt that redirects all tax revenue to local banks, in escrow for local needs. The Federal Government is OUT OF CONTROL.
As I look over the titles of the 33 Op Ed pieces, I have two thoughts: first, that this really is a spectacular collection of thoughful public interest criticism, very well organized; and second, that this same book could be written about every Cabinet Department, every State Governor, every Mayor across America. We have institutionalized looting in ways that even the most corrupt countries such as Guatemala have not even begun to exploit. The federal government is full of good, well-intentioned people, but it is also managed and manipulated by an elite that considers our tax dollars their privilege to spend, and that has to end.
Especially interesting to me were details on the Bush Family, including worthless relatives that helped companies climb to billions in revenue; details about George Bush Junior that were known before he ran for President but not properly presented to the public; details over the entire book on the treasonous displacement of uniformed personnel by contractors; technical exposes of specific mobility and weapons systems; and the over all DETAILED, balanced presentation of public intelligence in the public interest.
Here are ten other books I recommend to complement this one (if my reviews are buried at Amazon, they are easy to find at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, all with links there back to Amazon's page for the book, and to my review at Amazon as well so you can harvest comments if any, and/or vote.
I do not link to my own books, including ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World, as they are easy to find and also available free online. The bottom line is that Obama sold out to play Bush in black-face, with zero change in the constant treason that has characterized the Executive and Legislative Branches since at least the 1990's when Newt Gingrich destroyed bi-partisan comity and Bill Clinton inhaled the vapors of Wall Street.
America needs both a tax revolt, and an honest Director of National Intelligence (DNI) able to create a Smart Nation in which we harness our collective intelligence and simultaneously ressurect national education and integrity; national research and integrity; and of course national decision-support (intelligence) and integrity. That alone will bury the current corruption because any DNI smart enough to do that will also be smart enough to tell Congress that intelligence and Whole of Government reform can be job and revenue neutral from state to state and district to district.