AMERICA THROUGH THE EYE OF MY NEEDLE: Common Sense for the '80s by Josephine Alexander


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Josephine Alexander is in her seventies; and like lots of folks her age and younger, she's wondering what happened to the American Dream. Why the rampant insecurity, ""guilt, confusion, frustration, and stress""? Her answer, however, is not one of those regularly given, at least not by the sort of people who usually speak of an American Dream: it's the conglomerates--which, she charges, ""profit from inflation"" (inarguable), create unemployment (to some extent, yes), produce mental and social illness (they contribute--as does much else), pollute the environment (no more, historically, than single-Industry businesses), and stimulate war (as have armaments manufacturers always). In short, Alexander's charges, while not unfounded, do not prove ""conglomeratism"" to be the sole or chief cause of any of our ""national woes,"" even if the two did grow apace--the specious logic on which the book's argument rests. Alexander extends it to apply to autos (the automakers made us depend on cars), to fuel (tankers spill oil, while we're asked to conserve--among various, scattered abuses), to unions (self-serving conglomerates too--with the partial exception of the Teamsters!), and to garbage and sewage (all that excess packaging, and other waste). To get out of this bind, says Alexander, we should form employee-owned businesses (like Herkimer, N.Y.'s library-furniture factory), stage local rebellions (like the citizens of Westwood, Calif., who, in a dispute with the power company, turned off the lights), curb the conglomerates' power by enforcing existing laws, harry them into cutting back their activities, and so on. Like the charges, the remedies are a melange--in this case, of feasible but limited actions and happy dreams. Still, the image of a feisty populist grandmother taking on the moguls may have some appeal--if she can also put across her points on the TV talk circuit.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Dial