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A cornucopia of ideas worth considering.

  • Jan 25, 2013
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"Our country has far more problems than we deserve...and far more solutions than we apply." -- Ralph Nader

Although I tend to disagree with him on some key issues I have always found the American political activist, author, lecturer and attorney Ralph Nader to be one of our most thoughtful and well-meaning citizens. In a career that has spanned nearly half a century Ralph Nader has fought continuously for the largely progressive issues and ideas that he firmly believes in. Whenever Ralph Nader appears on TV I make it my business to stop whatever I am doing to listen to what he has to say. Now in 2012 Mr. Nader has penned an interesting new book that he has dubbed "The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future". This is the culmination of the man's remarkable career commenting on the American culture and economy. It is well worth a look.

As another Amazon reviewer has duly noted Ralph Nader "doesn't write page-turners". While this is true it is of little concern to me. Like so many Americans I am searching for viable solutions to many of our nation's most pressing social and economic problems. Despite the fact that I am pretty much a dyed-in-the-wool conservative I still was able to find a great deal of common ground with what Mr. Nader proffers in "The Seventeen Solutions". Chief among them is his clarion call to end corporate welfare. This is clearly an issue that liberals and conservatives can agree on yet over the decades it has proven to be a tough nut to crack. As Nader points out federal tax revenue contributed by corporate income tax has shrunk from around 30% in the 1950's to about 10% in 2013. I also agree with the author when he urges his readers to support locally-owned businesses. Nader is a big fan of farmer's markets as a place where citizens can interact socially and civically. I agree. Ralph Nader would also dramatically reduce our nation's bloated military budget. Again, we need to have a national conversation about this and Nader outlines where he thinks significant cuts could be made. Time and again in "The Seventeen Solutions" Mr. Nader refers to President Dwight Eisenhower's oft-quoted "Farewell Address" where he warns of the dangers posed by the "military-industrial" complex. Much to my surprise he offers some very harsh criticism of President Obama and is also highly critical of Congress who lavish all manner of benefits on themselves while at the same time exempting themselves from many of the laws they impose on the rest of us. There are a number of other salient points made by the author that I would tend to agree with but I simply do not have time to list them all here. I must confess that I found much more common ground with Mr. Nader than I anticipated.

But as you might well expect given my political persuasion I also found plenty of ideas that I wholeheartedly disagree with in "The Seventeen Solutions". As far as I am concerned Nader completely mischaracterizes the Tea Party movement and claims that no more than 300,000 Americans were involved. Pure poppycock! This is a movement Mr. Nader not an organization. Over the past four years millions of Americans have participated in Tea Party rallies and events. While progressive groups like Occupy Wall Street argue for massive tax increases on the wealthy with little or no regard to the spending side of the equation the Tea Party advocates significant across-the-board spending cuts designed to help to restore fiscal sanity to our nation. I will give Mr. Nader the benefit of the doubt and assume that he means well but the simple truth is that we simply cannot afford all of the social spending that he and his liberal allies advocate. Such spending is totally irresponsible and as we are going to learn in the near future simply unsustainable. Nader also opposes common sense Voter ID laws on the grounds that they "impose a hardship on poor people". It seems to me sir that given all of the rights and benefits associated with being an American citizen there should also be a just teeny weeny bit of responsibilty as well. If obtaining a voter ID card requires a citizen to spend a couple of hours at a government office then so be it. In my view this is not too much to ask of anyone.

At the end of the day there is much food for thought in "The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future". It is not often that you read a book that is just jam packed with ideas. Ralph Nader continues to be an important voice on the American political scene. In future years students will refer to "The Seventeen Solutions" to discover just what this great American was all about. Agree or disagree this is a book that is well worth your time and attention. Highly recommended!

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January 28, 2013
Good stuff in the review and probably in the book too.
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Twelve years after his role in the 2000 presidential election and nearly 50 since Unsafe at Any Speed (1965) shocked the U.S. auto industry, Nader remains a font of ideas about all that ails the U.S. economy and the U.S. polity. No reader will be surprised that corporate America is the focus of many proposals, among them eliminating corporate welfare, cracking down on corporate crime, establishing national charters for the largest corporations, and cutting the military budget. Anyone who’s followed Nader’s career will also expect his advocacy for political changes, including restoring civil liberties, reinvesting in infrastructure, and forcing Congress to have Skin in the Game. But many of Nader’s solutions require action by ordinary citizens—reengaging with civic life, building more self-reliant communities, taking back control over science and technology, and watchdogging Congress. Notably, Nader urges enlisting support from the enlightened super-rich to generate the modest but essential funding needed for campaigns to turn his other recommendations into reality. Timely, relevant ideas from a veteran of generations of battles for small-d democracy. --Mary Carroll
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