Review: We Can All Do Better

3 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Congress (Failure, Reform), Culture, Research, Democracy, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Politics
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Bill Bradley

3.0 out of 5 stars Shallow Book, Old Think, He Quit the Fight to Join the Worst of the Wall Street Manipulators,November 15, 2012

This book makes me very angry. My step-father and I both believed in Bill Bradley a decade ago, and today I feel about him the way I feel about Ron Paul: each betrayed the public trust by refusing to break with their side of the two-party tyranny, knowing full well that neither party represents the public or the public interest, while disenfranchising 50% of the public [the Independents, Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform, and Socialist parties, all but the first accredited at the national level and blocked from ballot access and debate access by two of the most corrupt parties on the planet] so corrupt they outdo the Soviet Politburu in avoiding turnover at the top.

As I go through this book — and of course I am better armed than most being the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reading across 98 categories (visit Phi Beta Iota / Books to access all of my Amazon reviews by category) — I keep thinking to myself TIRED, TIRED, TIRED. This is a book that would have earned five stars from me in 2000. Today it is too little too late.

This book fails the authenticity test on three counts:

01 It fails to tell the truth about the depth and breadth of the corruption inherent in the full integration of crime, religion, high finance, and high politics. Matt Taibi does it better, and here is one quote from his incredibly gifted book, Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History

QUOTE (32): What has taken place over the last generation is a highly complicated merger of crime and policy, of stealing and government. Far from taking care of the rest of us, the financial leaders of America and their political servants have seemingly reached the cynical conclusion that our society is not work saving and have taken on a new mission that involved not creating wealth for us all, but simply absconding with whatever wealth remains in our hollowed out economy. They don't feed us, we feed them.

02 The author lacks a strategic analytic model (just look those three words up on Google) and as a result his book is largely incoherent and devoid of what a strategic analytic model would provide, both a whole systems cause and effect coherence, and a true cost economics perspective. This is not a man that thinks in integrative terms. It has not escaped me that George “Slam Dunk” Tenet, one of the most inept Directors of Central Intelligence we have ever had (the kind of person that never reached the bottom of his in-box and preferred a good cigar to a good thought) joined Allen & Company.

03 In light of both of the above, the author and the book lack originality and authenticity. Please understand that I would still support Bill Bradley for President, but ONLY if he adopted the core ideas of We the People Reform Coalition, and surrounded himself with adults committed to ethical evidence-based decision-making, not something that can be said of him today. Bradley is a direct leader (of men) but he left the field of battle to make money, just one cut better than Al Gore who rolled over and played dead for a $100 million parachute — Greg Palast tells the story in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

Click on Image to Enlarge

There is one bright spot in this book. He mentions the Automated Payment Transaction (APT) Tax, but does not close the circle. Here is a short description of this tax and why we have no fiscal cliff in Washington today, only an integrity chasm:

Dummy Version: Generates $4 trillion a year without borrowing and allowing the elimination of ALL other taxes beginning with personal income taxes. Allows for the recapitalization of our labor pool, our domestic infrastructure, and our Department of Defense (450-ship Navy, long-haul Air Force, air-liftable Army, Marines back on the boats).

Smart Version: The Automated Payment Transaction (APT) Tax allows for the elimination of all existing taxes — particularly income taxes — while dramatically increasing the revenue available to government. It offers fairness, simplicity, and efficiency while eliminating the corruption attendant to a complex tax code used to extort money from special interests seeking to buy loopholes and other forms of exemption. As a tax on ALL transactions, at the point of payment, the APT Tax is tiny, relieving families, small business, and corporations of the heavy burden of carrying the federal government on their backs. Depending on where the rate is set, the APT Tax can generate 3, 4, or 5 trillion dollars a year beginning immediately upon its implementation. This means that the US Government would not have to borrow money and could afford to both rebuild the national security enterprise, as well as the domestic infrastructure enterprise. Congress would lose the ability to extort money from special interests through its manipulation of the tax code and regulatory measures. Therefore we recommend that the Executive actively sponsor a doubling of Member salaries, provided they also eschew the origination of any regulations and stick to an oversight role.

If it is not immediately obvious, this tiny tax on transactions (95% of which are not taxed now, the government is carried on the backs of gross adjusted income taxes, see the graphic I am posting up under the book cover above), is a wet dream for the current Speaker of the House — not only do we not reverse the tax cuts on the rich, we eliminate taxes on EVERYBODY. No income taxes, no estate taxes, no complex tax code etc etc. Just a tiny less than one half of one percent transaction tax.

As I reread my largely negative review (I am positive about the man, with caveats, negative about the book, with caveats) I went through the notes, the bibliography, and the index to double-check my perceptions, and in each case, they confirmed my three-star evaluation. The notes are largely pedestrian; the bibliography is more old think and thrown together including Death of a Salesman of all things but not including, to take three tiny examples, The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead or Deer Hunting With Jesus or The Working Poor: Invisible in America. In other words, Bill Bradley is not well read, this bibliography was thrown together. On the bright side, it probably was not written by the New America Foundation, which rises a cut above mediocrity but still lacks a strategic analytic model.

I will end by noting that I rarely write reviews for books below 4 and 5 stars. I am doing this one as a form of tough love — Bill Bradley needs to reconnect with the rest of us and start thinking seriously about a Coalition Cabinet, demanding that Obama and the Speaker look at the APT Tax NOW, and perhaps leading an Electoral Reform Summit, something that would surely restore him to front runner status for 2016 while changing the balance of power in 2014. None of my ideas — drawn from the 5000 or so minds I have probed via books and my conferences these past 20 years — are rocket science. They just require one word: INTEGRITY. Integrity is not just about honor, it is about wholeness, about clarity, diversity, and open source everything.

It is not too late for Bill Bradley to put Allen and Company and his Wall Street pals behind him, and return to the fight. This book does not do that, I hope that his next one, perhaps entitled ENOUGH! Restoring the Republic, might set the stage for all of coming together to demand and enact the one reform that matters: Electoral Reform across eleven points (search for Electoral Reform Act of 2012).

To end this review — really more of a lesson for Bill Bradley and those close to him — I will quote Dr. Russell Ackoff, America's foremost whole systems and integral design pioneer in his time:

“The righter we do the wrong thing, the wronger we become. When we make a mistake doing the wrong thing and correct it, we become wronger. When we make a mistake doing the right thing and correct it, we become righter. Therefore, it is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right. This is very significant because almost every problem confronting our society is a result of the fact that our public policy makers are doing the wrong things and are trying to do them righter.” (Ackoff 2004)

Bill Bradley, a towering man both physically and intellectually, has been doing the wrong thing for all too long. I pray that this book is the last wrong thing he does, and that he returns to us enlightened and ready to listen to the collective intelligence of the public, ready to engage in what must be a bottom-up multi-cultural, completely transparent long-view engagement.

See Also:

Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It

Robert David STEELE Vivas
ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig

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