Orthodoxies all along the spectrum of American opinion are challenged in this thoughtful, data-filled disquisition.
Schwarz, a retired business executive with a penchant for facts and figures, wants Americans to stop relying on politicians, cable-news channels and ambient ideologies and think for themselves. His own opinions show a probing and independent cast of mind. His moderate-to-liberal stance on economic problems highlights the scourges of unemployment, low wages and income inequality and disputes the idea that tax cuts are a panacea and calls for government action to stimulate the economy and ensure health care for all. His positions on social issues are more eclectic: he supports both drug legalization and hand-gun ownership—he’s been an NRA member ever since a run-in with murderous gang members at a Chicago factory he ran—while opposing both the death penalty and abortion (although he allows that anti-abortion laws are probably unenforceable). Schwarz infuses the book with a wealth of interesting statistics on everything from tax revenue and Medicare budgets to sexual activity among teens, and he even sprinkles in revealing insights from his experience as a refugee from Communist Poland, businessman and parent of a developmentally disabled son. His analyses of socio-economic problems are cogent and engaging, but his specific policy remedies are less so: his pet proposals include a flat tax; an ill-considered plan to power the economy with hydrogen and renewables; a quixotic scheme to eliminate irregularities from English spelling—“a symposium would have to be held on revising the language, followed by a public education program”—and a deity-free rewrite of the Pledge of Allegiance. (“I pledge, by all that I hold sacred, my allegiance to the United States of America…”) Readers won’t always agree with Schwarz’s conclusions, but they can learn a lot from his informative, closely reasoned discussions of a wide range of issues.
A stimulating take on the great concerns of the day.