THE CREATIVE BALANCE by Elliot Richardson


Email this review


A long, disarmingly informal essay on the proper blend of pragmatism and principle in public affairs. Richardson, whose government experience includes the departments of State, Defense, and Health, Education, and Welfare, as well as the Attorney Generalship at a late stage of Watergate, concludes that ""honesty is the best policy"" in bureaucratic life, and ""the consequences of refusal to go along with something you are sincerely convinced is wrong are seldom as serious as you may anticipate."" Upholding federal-level checks and balances, the book also maintains that the practical question of relationships among the branches is far more important than the legal status of the ""executive privilege"" doctrine, while the proper limits to governmental snooping are also unfortunately a practical question. A number of specific proposals are made for improving ""human services"": sharp program evaluation, ""workfare"" plus jobs for prisoners and the elderly, job-satisfaction measures including flexible work hours, and a retraining plan based on the trainee's prior performance of community services. National malaise, Richardson counsels, can be met with cautious optimism, civic responsibility, and a combination of governmental decentralization and improved coordination of services. Critical readers may find that his praise of individual dignity and moderation slips through their fingers while his concrete proposals--as he concedes--could take on a certain anti-labor character in a continued recession. Others will find Richardson as astute, upright, and reassuring as the ideal family lawyer.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1976
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston