Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review: "Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Now"

I don't have the time to do justice to a full review of this book.  I'm just taking a few minutes to comment on this well written book on the hot subject of whether or not governement should be in the business of business.  Indeed, it is a "white hot" debate.

Many people today would have us believe that governement should not have a role in American life, except for law, order and protection.  But here is a book written by a true blue free enterprise capitalist, Felix Rohatyn, who is a strong advocate for government's involvement in America's business.  In fact, his thesis is that our government built this country and it is the reason we have excelled among the nations of the world.

This is actually a history book describing how the government made us the great country we are by giving our nation the following:  The Louisiana Purchase, The Erie Canal, The Transcontinental Railroad, The Land Grant Colleges, The Homestead Act, The Panama Canal, The Rural Electrification Administration, The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, The G.I. Bill, and The Interstate Highway System.  Rohatyn devotes a chapter to each of these government "intrusions" in to the life of Americans and how they added great wealth to the people of America.

Rothatyn's fear is that we have forgotten these facts of history and our selfishness and lack of visionary leadership has squelched the collective resolution of this country to continue to be great among the nations.

In each chapter, he shows how great the opposition was to these individual government programs in the time in which they were being pushed to the front lines of American economics.  In each case, people and politicians complained that these programs would bankrupt us, disturb our already fragile economy, or that they would be intrusions on American freedom.  They were not very popular at the time.  There was every reason given to "not" follow through on these programs.   

It took courage and vision for America's leaders to make each of these programs a reality.  In each case, America prospered due to the implimentation, visionary leadership and financing of these programs. 

As one case in point, the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of our country, giving us the potential for expansion and ownership of great natural resources.  We had to take out loans with fat cat banks from Europe that we would be indebted to for many years.  People thought that Jefferson gave our nation away in this purchase and that he broke the constitution doing it.  But in fact, we paid our debt and not only did we increase the value of our country through property, we increased our integrity among the great nations of Europe because we faithfully paid our debt.

Rothatyn writes each chapter as a rising crescendo to say in his last chapter, American government must once again take the lead.  He identifies the greatest challenge of our generation to be the crumbling and outdated infrastructure of our nation.  He advocates that a government commission should be established by the federal government to put forth a vision, plan and financial means to rebuild our country from the inside out.  It will take many trillions, but if well orchestrated it will save us from the doom of many illnesses.

Read the book.  See for yourself.  Make your own conclusions.  But, by all means, read the book.