A manifesto for the radical center…
My friend, John McConnell, formerly SVP of Programming for the ABC Radio networks, asked if I would read and review a book he would send me.
John didn’t ask for a good review. He just thought the book was worth my time.
He was right.
Despite the title, this is not a book about China; it’s a book about America and the ideological stalemate that has brought us to the brink of policy disaster.
This is a book about the real issues that we face, serious issues, that our sound-bite, celebrity-obsessed media won’t take the time to cover in depth. And these issues require thoughtfull contemplation, which is why I hope you will read this book before you vote on November 6.
I consider myself a Moderate. I am fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I’m a Libertarian when it comes to things like pot laws and internet gambling because morality cannot be mandated, as Prohibition proved, so I believe we should legalize and tax both as things people want to do, and are doing, already.
Kiernan is a polymath, with broad knowledge in many areas important to our country’s future, and his thesis is that those of us who feel left out by both the Republican and Democratic Parties need to demand solutions that are to be found in the center, rather than on the margins of the political debate.
Let me share some quotes…
On the effect of unlimited money saturating our elections:
“What was the cost of the last three presidential cycles? In 2000, it was $3.1 billion. Four years later, it was $4.1 billion and in 2008, $5.3 billion. That’s $12.5 billion to elect two presidents, one twice.” (p.118)
On the American financial system and banks too big to fail:
“…let’s recall the words of John Maynard Keynes: ‘If you owe your bank manager one thousand pounds, you are at his mercy, but if you owe him one million pounds, he is at your mercy.” (p.157)
On the aging of our citizens and what that means for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security:
“The number of Americans 55 and older will nearly double in the next 19 years, from 60 million today (21% of the population) to 108 million (31% of the population). By 2050, 40% of the American population will be over 50 and nearly a third will be over 65. And 40% of those 65’ers are projected to live to 90 years of age.” (p.181)
On unions, especially public sector unions and the pension crisis they have created for all of us:
“When workers have unionized jobs, they are protected against employer abuses that created disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaiste Fire. But…government has emerged as labor’s growth industry.”
“We are frozen by unionists’ unwillingness to make accdomodation. If your state has pension obligations, you should begin the process of decoupling ambitions from your balance sheet. They simply don’t match.” (p.216)
On regulation, taxation, unrestrained capitalism and their effects of the 4 largest health costs in America — smoking, drinking, obesity and prescription drug abuse:
“If a mortal enemy were systematically killing nearly half a million Americans a year, we would mobilize the armies of the night and let loose the dogs of war.”
“We allow corporations to profit while they poison us. They are targeting your children. They mean to fill them with an endless aching need.”
“They spend tens of millions to capture the health of your young adults. If you are hedonistic enough to be pleasured by life-shortening habits, so be it, but do you recoil when they target your teens? Just how close to your heart does their arrow have to fly before you cry foul?” (p.291)
On the inevitability of some sort of national health care program:
“If you want to know where I think the world of health-care benefits is heading, think of a one-word pneumonic device: GLIDERS…
G = Guaranteed
L = Lifetime
I = Individual/Insured
D = Distributed broadly
E = Education of investment options and co-pay
R = Responsibility-based
S = Subsidized
And this final one…
“In the end, we will all have to face the very basic music. It’s not that we can’t afford what we want. We can’t afford what we have.” (p.216)
Our future as a free nation, any democracy, depends upon an informed electorate. Don’t settle for political ads and partisan hyperbole. Don’t depend upon national media, on either side, to tell you the truth.
Buy this book. Read it. Think about it. And then give it to a friend, and keep it moving forward.
We’re less than 6 months from an election. There’s no more time to waste.