Monday, March 27, 2006

Book Review - Getting America Right

I was asked to read and give my thoughts on Getting America Right, by Edwin J. Feullner and Doug Wilson. The book is published by Crown Forum (Crown Publishing) . Putting aside the fact that I have never done a book review before, I agreed. All clumsiness of style is strictly my own fault...

This is an explicitly conservative plan, laid out in six parts. It is more concerned with having any action by government meet a series of questions, than any particular partisan position. They find themselves in a sort of an odd position vis-a-vis the Republican and Democratic Parties; both have done some things well (welfare reform and tax cuts) but too many things, overall, wrongly (spending, spending, and did I mention spending? over-regulation and over-stepping their proper bounds).

Dr. Feullner is the president of the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation had a great influence upon the administration of Ronald Reagan, and to an extent upon the later program(s) of Speaker Newt Gingrich. It is to those two that the book often refers or looks to.

Mr. Wilson has been involved in the business and management consulting worlds, but brings big stick to this project by virtue of being the Chairman of Townhall.com, an on-line conservative news and opinion site. (note: hey, I'm a blogger - of course I consider running an on-line community to give huge cred to someone. Heh heh.)

The questions that the authors suggest be posed about any government action are as follows:
Is it the government's business?
Does this measure promote self-reliance?
Is it responsible?
Does it make us more prosperous?
Does it make us safer?
Does it unify us?

The vast majority of the analysis in this book is checking current policy and programs against these questions. It should come as no shock to find that the authors believe much of governments actions do not answer these questions in the affirmative. I will leave you to read of their solutions to the larger and greater issues, for I want to cherry-pick two proposals I think merit some serious and immediate consideration.

First (p. 116-117), the authors suggest every congressional spending measure and conference report be posted on the Internet for at least twenty-four hours before members could vote on it. This would be an expansion of Thomas - the phenominally useful legislative tracking service. Anyone who has tried to wallow through proposed Congressional legislation has probably said a silent prayer of thanks for Thomas. Everyone, regardless of party affiliation or ideology, should be in favor of knowing what the heck their representatives in Washington D.C. are considering.

Second, the authors propose (p. 188-189) the formation of a specific entity related to polling foreign public opinion. This would be called the Corporation for Foreign Opinion Analysis (COFA). Being a military CA kind of guy (I'm the CAO for the 108th Sustainment Brigade, ILARNG) I am all in favor of our government getting its hands around this data. A good idea, one that will eradicate a big blank spot in our overseas knowledge.

The authors invite further interested parties to check their specific site.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Simon Peter said...

Major. Very good review sir. As one who likes to think that he knows a little about book reviewing, I think that you did a good job. You explained enough about what the book was getting at to interest me without spoiling the need to actually buy the book. Well done.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Mighty Quinn said...

"The questions that the authors suggest be posed about any government action are as follows:
Is it the government's business?
Does this measure promote self-reliance?
Is it responsible?
Does it make us more prosperous?
Does it make us safer?
Does it unify us?"

How about,
Is it legal?
Is it the truth?
Is it just/fair?
How many lives will it cost?

Sorry, the Heritage Society always gets my hackles up. Excellent review, MJ - keep 'em coming.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Major John said...

Is it legal? Legislation makes things "legal".
I don't know where truth enters into government spending decisions? If we spend X on highways, I guess that would be true, yes?
Just/Fair - that is where I think, they are trying to go with their questions. Just a difference of opinion on end results I imagine.
Lives will it cost - they ask that as will it make us safer, I suppose.

You aren't far off from their questions after all!

My questions might be a bit different than their questions too - most of what you and I differ with them on is simply style. Everyone wants to know what governmaent action will do, and why it is being done. People just have different answers to the questions posed.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Major John said...

Of course, this reminds me of that McDonalds commercial with the young kid getting his first paycheck, looking down at it in horror and saying "Who's FICA? And who said he could have all my money!?" Then he takes his girlfriend to the Golden Arches. Bet he didn't get any...

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

I am trying to find a video copy of the McDonalds commercial Major John mentioned. Can anyone direct me to a source? Please email me at: athayer@ptlaw.com

2:30 PM  

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