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on September 7, 2012
Gus Speth is a very good writer and especially on a topic that often seems dry and incomprehensible to many. His description of the economic mess in which we find ourselves and how we got here, is very clearly presented; a degree in economics is not required. I especially applaud the distinction he makes between ideology-driven policy on the one hand and realistic, fact-based analysis on the other. The reader will quickly learn that Gus Speth is in the latter camp. While ours is truly a "troubled" economy, Gus Speth presents an optimistic manifesto for the future, based not on idealism and wishful thinking, but on careful analysis of what has gone wrong and on positive and action-based trends he observes already appearing across the land. While he is more optimistic than I am as to whether we can overcome the paralyzing divisiveness and gridlock in our political arena, I do find myself more hopeful now that I have read this book.

I recommend this book to any citizen who is concerned about our country and what it will hold for future generations and anyone who, rather than lapsing into a negative and cynical view of our democracy and our future, is eager to be a part of the solution.
27 people found this helpful
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on September 29, 2015
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on October 22, 2012
In "America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy" Gus Speth spells out the many respects in which our economy is badly skewed and not functioning fairly or effectively, and relates that directly to failures in our political system. It is no secret that our Congress is hopelessly gridlocked, politicized and dysfunctional. As Speth points out in a thoroughly researched and documented analysis, this is largely the result of the corrupting influence of money in our political system. A half dozen well-financed and powerful special interest groups effectively control the agenda in Congress, and heavily influence the outcome of elections. The Supreme Court's ill-considered decision in Citizens United, which opened the door to unlimited corporate political contributions, has further aggravated an already bad situation. As a result, it is the agendas of well-financed special interest groups and individuals that Congress is addressing, and not that of the nation as a whole.

"America the Possible" begins with a compelling account of how the human population is exploding exponentially and outstripping the carrying capacity of our planet to sustain this growth, or human civilization as we know it. We have overfished our oceans, overharvested our forests, polluted our air and water, and triggered a serious disruption of our climate with manmade greenhouse gas emissions, yet our political leaders are not dealing with or even responsibly discussing these issues. The list of unaddressed or underaddressed problems is far broader than just environmental, including education, health care, employment opportunity and disparity of wealth. Our GDP has been rising since the 1950s, but individuals' sense of well-being, and satisfaction with life, has not. Speth demonstrates convincingly that we do not lack the resources or information to deal responsibly with these issues, but we lack the political leadership. Our system is broken.

To address this, Speth calls for a transformation of our political system to reflect a fairer, more representative, and more progressive set of values. This must come from the grass roots. Whatever you may think of the Tea Party, they figured out quickly how to organize voters, get their message out, and get candidates elected who would champion their views. The "Occupy Wall Street" movement, and various progressive think tanks and organizations, need to take a page form their playbook. "America the Possible" discusses in specific detail how we can not only reshape our government to be more responsive and reflective of the popular will, but how corporations and other institutions can be reformed to better reflect the interests of their shareholders and the public.

These are subjects which Gus Speth has been dealing with throughout his life, and which he is uniquely well qualified to discuss. As a result, after reading this book I felt optimistic that we have the tools we need to make our government more responsive to the public interest and more effective in its procedures, that we can build a fairer economy, and that our levels of happiness with our lives, both individually and as a nation, can be significantly improved in the process. This book is a "must read" for all who think we can do better.
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on February 18, 2013
A quick tutorial of what is wrong with the world, our country, our form of politics and election of officials, the money system in general, large corporations know, the stuff that's been said over the last 50 to 60 years (and longer). If you haven't seen this in one spot it's a pretty good run down of many aspects of modern growth-oriented corporation-dominated war-driven consumerism-life we seem to be stuck with on our little planet. It then presents solutions which are less radical than espoused by others; you won't find revolution and a complete wipe out of the concept of money here but you will find the small-village-capitalism-type approach thinking...again nothing new but more reasonable than say, some real crazy aint'-gonna-happen idea that everyone suddenly jumps up and says "I ain't gonna participate in this anymore" and we enter into some utopian love fest of science-minded resource-based economy... I read it and gave it to a friend so that I can have someone to debate concerning some of these concepts. A decent read but I can't join his optimism that we'll find any solutions before it's too late however, I'll continue to vote with my dollar by keeping it out of large corporations and politicians as much as possible and encourage others to do so.
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on March 5, 2015
Talk about telling it like it is. Gus Speth strikes again!
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on June 23, 2015
love it
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on November 19, 2013
It is a very idealistic book. It would be wonderful if these ideas could be implemented. Given the entrenched power of the likes of the Koch Brothers and their ilk, "America the Possible" may be a utopian dream.
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on March 14, 2013
I was forced to read this book for a class I took at IU so my review may be a little bias to the fact that I did not pick this book up for leisure. I enjoyed reading the chapters dealing with basic facts of our political fallacies and economic "growth" fetish a lot and learned a lot on these examples alone. My main problem is that Gus Speth hyper-focuses on the far left ideals and priorities without ever trying to appeal to the right wing ideals. I consider myself a left-wing liberal and feel Speth has a lot of the same beliefs I do which is great. This is good discussion when you are talking with your social group who share similar interests but when you are trying to initiate a change that would emcompass every political background, you cannot fail to include the side you will have to convince the most. Speth describes his ideas for a "New Economy" without ever suggesting a reasonable and cooperative approach that would help both sides combat the problems of social inequity, climate change and foreign entanglement together in a feasible manner. He suggests things like a 55% tax margin on people with income over $410,000 and converting our political structure to resemble ones in Spain or England (where the legislative branch is filled according to the percentage of votes a party receives; example: Lets say the Republican party gets 44%, Dems get 40% and Libertarian gets 4%, then Reps would have 44% of the House, Dems 40% and Libs 4%). These are great ideas and I'm all for them but in our system, they would be shot down by Republicans and even some Democrats so fast that it wouldn't even be worth drafting a bill. Speth just seems to be speaking to a specific audience and his ideas are just too left to have any momentum with the general public.
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on October 27, 2012
I agree with everything the author writes. But, I do wish someone would come up with some explicit, detailed suggestions of exactly how the 99% could change the status quo. So while his exposition of our dire environmental condition, the inequality of our society, the tremendous need for change, all are carefully documented, he still leaves me wondering about what I can do as an individual. I am still searching for a game plan.
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on December 25, 2013
What is wrong with the American economic system? This book makes a clear and accurate diagnosis and then spells out the remedy. The only question is who will win this war, the public, or the plutocrats.
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