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New Book: America 3.0 is Now Launched!

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – why America’s Best Days are Yet to Come by James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus

I am confident that this deeply researched and thoughtfully argued book  is going to make a big political splash, especially in conservative circles – and has already garnered a strong endorsement from Michael Barone, Jonah Goldberg, John O’Sullivan and this review from  Glenn Reynolds in USA Today :

Future’s so bright we have to wear shades: Column 

….But serious as these problems are, they’re all short-term things. So while at the moment a lot of our political leaders may be wearing sunglasses so as not to be recognized, there’s a pretty good argument that, over the longer time, our future’s so bright that we have to wear shades.

That’s the thesis of a new book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity In The 21st Century.The book’s authors, James Bennett and Michael Lotus, argue that things seem rough because we’re in a period of transition, like those after the Civil War and during the New Deal era. Such transitions are necessarily bumpy, but once they’re navigated the country comes back stronger than ever.

America 1.0, in their analysis, was the America of small farmers, Yankee ingenuity, and almost nonexistent national government that prevailed for the first hundred years or so of our nation’s existence. The hallmarks were self-reliance, localism, and free markets.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, people were getting unhappy. The country was in its fastest-ever period of economic growth, but the wealth was unevenly distributed and the economy was volatile. This led to calls for what became America 2.0: an America based on centralization, technocratic/bureaucratic oversight, and economies of scale. This took off in the Depression and hit its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, when people saw Big Government and Big Corporations as promising safety and stability. You didn’t have to be afraid: There were Top Men on the job, and there were Big Institutions like the FHA, General Motors, and Social Security to serve as shock absorbers against the vicissitudes of fate.

It worked for a while. But in time, the Top Men looked more like those bureaucrats at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and the Big Institutions . . . well, they’re mostly bankrupt, or close to it. “Bigger is better” doesn’t seem so true anymore.

To me, the leitmotif for the current decade is supplied by Stein’s Law, coined by economist Herb Stein: “Something that can’t go on forever, won’t.” There are a lot of things that can’t go on forever, and, soon enough, they won’t. Chief among them are too-big-to-fail businesses and too-big-to-succeed government.

But as Bennett and Lotus note, the problems of America 2.0 are all soluble, and, in what they call America 3.0, they will be solved. The solutions will be as different from America 2.0 as America 2.0 was from America 1.0. We’ll see a focus on smaller government, nimbler organization, and living within our means — because, frankly, we’ll have no choice. Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. If America 2.0 was a fit for the world of giant steel mills and monolithic corporations, America 3.0 will be fit for the world of consumer choice and Internet speed.

Every so often, a “political” book comes around that has the potential to be a “game changer” in public debate. Bennett and Lotus have not limited themselves to describing or diagnosing America’s ills – instead, they present solutions in a historical framework that stresses the continuity and adaptive resilience of the American idea. If America”s “City on a Hill” today looks too much like post-industrial Detroit they point to the coming renewal; if the Hand of the State is heavy and it’s Eye lately is dangerously creepy, they point to a reinvigorated private sector and robust civil society; if the future for the young looks bleak,  Bennett and Lotus explain why this generation and the next will conquer the world.

Bennett and Lotus bring to the table something Americans have not heard nearly enough from the Right – a positive vision of an American future that works for everyone and a strategy to make it happen.

But don’t take my word for it.

The authors will be guests Tuesday evening on Lou Dobb’s Tonight and you can hear them firsthand and find out why they believe “America’s best days are yet to come

Friday, March 9th, 2007


“Chicago ain’t ready for reform”

Alderman Paddy Bauler

Jonathan at Chicago Boyz points to “A Brilliant Analysis of Chicago Politics” by Michael Barone entitled “Mayor Daley Re-elected“. I have to concur.

I grew up reading columns by the legendary Mike Royko and as a small lad of five or six, I was hustled by patronage minions of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Park District overlord, Ed Kelley, along with other children in a park district summer day camp, onto school buses to participate in a parade downtown marching past Hizzoner himself ( this was my first and last moment participating in Democratic politics). Barone’s piece on Chicago politics is one of the few I would put in a league with Royko or alongside the excellent Cohen and Taylor biography of Richard J. Daley, American Pharoah. An excerpt from Barone:

“Things became different after Richard M. Daley was elected to a two-year term in 1989 after the death of Harold Washington. The new Mayor Daley was as popular in the suburbs as in the city–perhaps even more so. He became the face of the Democratic party in Illinois. Even though Republicans, in the Republican year of 1994, were able to re-elect Edgar and get majorities in the legislature, they have fared disastrously otherwise. The Daleys gave great encouragement and tacit support to Bill Clinton in the 1992 primaries, and were amply rewarded: Bill Daley became NAFTA honcho and then secretary of commerce; Richie Daley advanced his plans to expand O’Hare Airport. His father built O’Hare to its present dimensions; he seeks to expand it much more. They both recognized that Chicago established its great eminence in 1850-1950 as the railroad hub of the nation and have consistently sought to make it in 1950–2050 the great airport hub of the nation.

Given New York’s dysfunctional airports, long misadministered by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the distance of city-mismanaged LAX from the rest of the country, they have had as their major competition only Atlanta and maybe Dallas–Fort Worth; and O’Hare–named after a machine-related World War II fighter pilot who was a genuine hero–is I think the only worldwide equal of Heathrow. Daley’s in with the Clinton administration helped, as did his in with Speaker Dennis Hastert, who is from the collar counties and was so much a political ally of Daley’s that when it came time to redistrict Illinois in 2001, the Democrats in the legislature, led by Michael Madigan and surely not out of consultation with Daley, sacrificed a Downstate incumbent and left the Republicans the majority of the Illinois delegation.

Asked if the sacrificed Democrat would like the plan, Madigan, in the monosyllabic don’t-back-no-losers language of Illinois politics, replied, “No.”


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