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Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It Paperback – June 16, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (June 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312424620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312424626
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For years, Peterson, secretary of commerce under Nixon and author of Gray Down, has been a compelling Cassandra, warning that the mix of growing debt, an aging population, and deficits in Social Security and Medicare portend disaster. Now, he laments, Republicans pursue reckless supply-side economics and Democrats, assuming a repeal of Bush's tax cuts would enable new government spending, are unwilling to consider limits on entitlements. Citing study after study, the author shows that it is a failure of leadership, not knowledge, that has let deficits loom. Beyond that, add the new burdens imposed by September 11—and the fact that European countries, aging like us, likely will have less money for security and international aid. Peterson attacks 10 partisan myths, among them that means-testing federal benefits will shred the safety net; that the elderly are poorer than children, that Americans are overtaxed and that using tax cuts to shrink government can work. What went wrong? He blames interest groups, individualism, short-termitis and generational change. Peterson offers concrete solutions: among them: index Social Security to prices, not wages; use the federal employees' health plan as a model; force Congress to include unfunded retirement obligations in its balance sheet; and pursue more nonpartisan politics, such as free TV time during campaigns. A self-described "fat cat," Peterson is willing to bear an "affluence test" for Social Security; he challenges leaders to revive JFK's call for civic responsibility.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Peterson takes the role of an extraordinary flight attendant preparing 290 million passengers for a hard landing--but the landing he anticipates involves not jetliners hitting the tarmac but rather the entire American economy spiraling into insolvency. Basing his conclusions on one inescapable economic reality, Peterson argues that twin deficits in trade and government spending now require an astounding infusion of $4 billion in foreign capital every day just to avert economic meltdown in this country. And foreign investors are growing weary of propping up the U.S. economy while American political leaders ignore the perilously unbalanced government budget. Unfortunately, Peterson finds both major parties locked into pathologically rigid ideologies of denial. While Democrats push for ever-larger entitlements for ever-more interest groups, Republicans press for ever-deeper tax cuts. Neither party will initiate the reforms--succinctly outlined here by Peterson--essential to safeguard the country's long-term financial health. Sobering, urgent, and evenhanded. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This is an excellent and easy book to read.
Gaetan Lion
If you do it in your furnace or fireplace, you will save a little of the oil or natural gas in our depleting stock.
R. E Westgard
This is a very important book; it will shake you out of your complacency.
Harmonious

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

214 of 228 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Edit of 16 Apr 08 to add more links on the bad and the good.

Edit of 17 Jan 07 to add links.

This extraordinary book should be read in tandem with Lewis H. Lapham's Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy and perhaps also William Greider's The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism as well as Jonathan Schell's The Unconquerable World.

I find it extraordinary to have the Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, which I have always considered to be an old man's club of established elites, largely out of touch with 80% of the real world (that is to say, the 80% that has almost nothing in the way of wealth, health, or rights), step up to the plate and speak truth.

This book addresses the second core issue in America's future, i.e. the twin deficits that are not only going to kill the business of America, but also deprive the children of America of their future. (Lapham addresses the first: restoration of honest democracy). In combination, the $7 trillion deficit in federal spending, and the $500 billion a year trade deficit, with roughly $2 billion in foreign loans being required every single day to keep America afloat, both suggest that we are snorting political cocaine and every one of us is a damn fool for allowing two political parties to get away with selling us down the river.
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98 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Over the last several years, former Secretary Of Commerce Pete Petersen has become something of a cottage industry in and of himself, writing several books, appearing as a pundit on talk shows, and acting as chairperson for both the Blackstone Group and the prestigious Council for Foreign Relations (CFR). Here he continues the caustic warnings he first articulated in "Gray Dawn", a polemic ranting against the potentially devastating consequences of the graying of the American population and the stress this demographic factor would have on growing federal deficits, the aging population itself, and on the national debt. He amplifies those warnings by making a rather alarming set of observations as to the consequences of the reckless and foolhardy policies of the current federal government, policies that combine the worst elements of supply side `voodoo economics' with continued growth in federal entitlement programs.
The mix, Mr. Petersen argues, may become a disastrous witch's brew with catastrophic results both for the domestic economy and the continued well-being of the American people. He saves his most strident criticism for the style of morally questionable leadership currently in vogue, a reckless world view that seems to shamelessly trade immediate and permanent tax cuts for the very wealthy for a mounting tidal wave of debt for our children and their heirs. In detailing his grievances with current policies, Petersen cites a series of common partisan myths, including the notion that the majority of the elderly are poor, that more elderly than children are poor, that Americans are over-taxed, that providing tax cuts for the rich can successfully shrink government, and that imposing so-called "means-testing" for federal benefits will be catastrophic for the needy.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
UPDATED 15 Dec 07Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches

This extraordinary book should be read in tandem with Lewis H. Lapham's Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy and perhaps also William Greider's The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy as well as Jonathan Schell's The Unconquerable World.

I find it extraordinary to have the Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, which I have always considered to be an old man's club of established elites, largely out of touch with 80% of the real world (that is to say, the 80% that has almost nothing in the way of wealth, health, or rights), step up to the plate and speak truth.

This book addresses the second core issue in America's future, i.e. the twin deficits that are not only going to kill the business of America, but also deprive the children of America of their future. (Lapham addresses the first: restoration of honest democracy).
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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