How to renew the greatness of rich but potentially failing nations, like the United States.
With a background as a hedge fund manager and the director of economic policy in George H.W. Bush’s administration, Buchholz (Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race, 2011, etc.) has the credentials to address the reasons why prosperous countries decline and to provide solid ideas on the cultural and political choices required to change course. “Working to shatter nations” are forces such as falling birth rates, rising debt, and declining work ethics, which the author believes threaten the United States and much of Europe. An advocate of free markets, his views are not readily pigeonholed in the usual ideological categories. He supports immigration and assimilation through the culture and values of the host country. Decline, he argues, stems “from the prosperity delivered by market capitalism.” As he notes, “the rise of science and the Enlightenment catapulted societies into a new world of economic growth and opportunity.” People grew taller and healthier and lived longer, and they built cities to live in. The author's objective is to learn from how past leaders have dealt with similar problems and the associated cultural pessimism. He believes that it is important to “kick aside conventional wisdom,” dismantle special privileges, whether of money or birth, and know “how to touch the hearts of their people.” As examples of those people, he offers Alexander the Great; Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular, Turkey; Golda Meir, one of the pioneer builder-settlers of Israel; Sakamoto Ryoma and other organizers of Japan's 19th-century opening to Western science and technology; and José Figueres Ferrer, architect of Costa Rica's independence. Each of these figures, writes Buchholz, realized “that money and genetics were not enough”; they also needed to restore lost senses of pride, honor, and purpose.
A refreshing book that offers an alternative to the failing shibboleths of the day.