Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America by Bob Herbert

Most republicans will not like Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America. Many democrats won't either, as former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, points out many ways in which the elected leaders of our cities, states, and country (of either party) have failed the public by looking after their own interests and that of special interests. He does this through telling stories about the lives of citizens.

Here are issues that Herbert examines in Losing Our Way:

The infrastructure of highways, bridges, rails, electrical grid, etc. is crumbling as elected officials will not raise taxes to pay for the needed work. The short-sightedness of fearing that taxpayers will vote officials out of office for raising taxes is that the projects would create jobs and leave the country better able to support its industry. Everyone would benefit, but our governments large and small are unwilling to invest in the future.

Most educational testing has weakened education, as schools teach to the tests instead of offering broadly-based lessons that teach children to think and prepare them for the future. Magnet schools have often been ineffective, and they fail to bring together the haves and have-nots. Educational corporations lobby for increased testing and against teachers having a say in curriculum. Rupert Murdoch is the big winner in what is often labelled "school reform."

All the wars we have fought since the Vietnam War (including Vietnam) have been against own interest and have destabilized many nations. Many died for no good purpose - a very dangerous thing to say in our for-us-or-against-us culture. Our economy has been drained for useless foreign action that only benefits arms manufacturers and Wall Street.

Wall Street is also behind the increasing gulf between earnings of workers and stock holders. Jobs are eliminated and wages kept low so the rich may reap more and more of the profits. As a result, more and more full time workers go farther and farther into debt, bringing the economy down.

That is just a taste of what Bob Herbert has to say.

When did the country lose its way? Herbert points to President Lyndon Johnson's increasing the troops sent to Vietnam, and he adds Ronald Reagan's campaign to deregulate many industries, especially weakening banking and finance rules.

Bob Herbert thinks that the trend of the last 50 years can be reversed. He points to the success of grass roots action of the Civil Rights and Women's Rights movements. He urges people to get involved at the bottom to take back the country from special interests.

Herbert, Bob. Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America. Doubleday, 2014. 283p. ISBN 9780385528238.

Books on Tape, 2014. 8 compact discs. Approx. 10 1/2 hours. ISBN 9780804193573.


Anonymous said...

Bob Herbert is a fellow at the Demos think tank - perhaps the most liberal think tank out there. He foolishly points to the failures of America and ask us to fight the special interest groups. How pray tell does he ask us to fight those interests? By furthering the “good” special interest such as the “women movement” or the “civil rights” movement. What would Herbert’s solution get us? The balkanization America and an over emphasis on inequity and class warfare. Seems like we are not too far from Herbert’s utopia already. Rather we should all espouse to increase the freedoms and liberties of individuals, all individuals regardless of race/class/gender/sexual orientation… through limited government and lower taxes.

ricklibrarian said...

Why is pointing out failures foolish? We need to address them. The status quo in which the richest in America have so much hold wealth close while others struggle hurts us all. Inequality and its sources should be exposed and we should work to close the gaps. Can we expect the rich to reform themselves? There are few freedoms and liberties when you are enslaved by low wages that do not provide a decent living. We need visionary government. Government is a social contract of the people and the rich need to abide and contribute fairly. Money we spend together building a better country is better used than money held for shallow luxuries. Much has been accomplished in the past from grass roots organizing. I celebrate civil rights and women's movements. They are people and they are good.