The Solution is a spirited and compelling look at what ails America and how to fix it."I'm angry, really, really angry," is Michael M.Stockdell's passionate opening sentence. But instead of a fuming rant what follows is an intelligent and informed discussion that's an antidote for the blinding furies unleashed by today's polarized politics.Stockdell variously challenges Meme Theory, big government, Civil Service, and the "high-minded," "ideological," and "self-serving" beliefs that have led America into this mess, among other issues. Congress is a "disrespected joke," he writes. The well-intentioned but overreaching search for "comprehensive solutions," he bemoans, explains so many failed government programs, such as the Affordable Care Act. Insights provided by his years as an Agriculture Department employee illustrate the inherent difficulties that stand in the way of government reform. The Constitution, he argues, fails to serve today's needs and expectations.But this is more than a lamentation. Stockdell also proposes 18 Constitutional amendments that will lead to a more efficient and truly representative government. Some are familiar, such as term limits and a balnced budget amendment. Some are imaginative such as capping campaign expenditures instead of contributions. Some are more far-reaching, such as abolishing the Electoral College and electing the Attorney General. Some might even be considered revolutionary, such as creating a fourth branch of government comprising professional administrators. Above all, he proposes a more citizen-friendly way to amend the Constitution.
Stockdell considers himself to be "a peculiar bird who is a bit on the right and a little bit on the left." But conservatives will feel more at home with The Solution's outlook. Not that liberals shouldn't read it; it presents the other side without the inflammatory mudslinging and personal attacks to which we've become accustomed. In short, The Solution is a fresh look that abounds with interesting remedies worth debating.
The Solution:Repairing Our Broken Political System by Michael M. Stockdell is a carefully and enthusiastically considered personal essay about what is wrong with American politics and what can be done to fix the system.
The Solution is divided into four parts: "Why Big Government Frequently, Mostly doesn't Work," "Why Has Big Government Emerged?", "What Can Be Done to Restore Limited Government," and "Policy Recommendations." Each section is further subdivided, and interspersed with asides on topics such as postmodernism and Marxism. Stockdell writes concisely about competing forms of government, from parliamentary systems to democratic socialism and communism.
Stockdell lays out his basic tenets: that the federal government is overextended, when it should limit its social goals to "basic fairness," and that there needs to be a different political structure. Accordingly, he calls for a constitutional convention to address the issues the book raises and to restore the American people's confidence in government.
Stockdell's writing is smart, passionate, and angry. He presents his perspective as that of a "peculiar bird who is a little bit on the right, a little bit on the left...a freethinker." His sardonic humor is evident on almost every page and sometimes results in amusing tangents. "Nobody, at least since Denis Diderot in eighteenth-century France," he said, "has pretended to know everything."
Briskly paced and engaging, The Solution deals in more than just politics. Stockdell uses insights gleaned from his eclectic personal studies in economics, religion, sociology, psychology, history, and philosophy to inform his opinions. Drawing on his wide-ranging interests and limited experience as a federal civil servant, the book offers a wealth of ideas. All are well-organized and presented, moving from the abstract to the concrete and suggesting thoughtful solutions, including amendments he'd like to see added to the Constitution.
The book doesn't shy from controversy, tackling hot-button issues such as abortion, marriage equality, and affirmative action. Some will find his opinions on Islam and integration, among other things, offensive. While his ideas on the mechanics of government are well-defined, things get fuzzier when he moves to controversial social issues. He states his opinion on what the answers should be, but proposes no ideas for how to achieve these outcomes. As Stockdell himself admits, his "knowledge is broad without being particularly deep."
Well timed for release in this politically charged election year, The Solution is an entertaining, provocative, and thoughtful presentation of one man's opinion that should find a wide audience.
A debut book presents a diagnosis of the U.S.'s current political ailments, coupled with a litany of suggested reforms.
Stockdell begins his study with a grim appraisal of America's current state of health; it's not merely that the economy is in tatters, but that the political class is no longer generally trusted to trigger a turnaround. The principal problem seems to be monstrously bloated government, practically ineffective, fiscally prodigal, and highly vulnerable to corruption. The author analyzes the inherent failings of a centralized bureaucracy while reflecting on his own experiences as a civil servant. Stockdell particularly objects to a government's heavy-handed attempts to either coerce behavior or provide the kind of services best provided by the private sector.He discusses the psychological motivations behind big government ideology, which largely embrace the impatient impulse to technocratically solve every problem quickly, or the self-aggrandizement of government officials. The author also furnishes a broad historical context, detailing the way leftist politics in the U.S. has borrowed from the failed legacy of European political theory. "In recent years, the progressive ideology has morphed into a form of socialism, which believes in the absolute dominance of the government and radical redistribution of wealth." Ultimately, the nation's problems are so systematically deep, he recommends a Constitutional Convention that, among other things, makes it easier for the public to directly initiate Constitutional reform. He suggests some amendments, too: for example, term limits for members of Congress and federal judges and limits on campaign spending. This is a wide-ranging analysis that covers everything from gun control to the Electoral College. The author certainly has his political commitments (the book is inspired by Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, which advocates individualism), but each section section is written with impresssive bipartisan moderation.Stockdell often anticipates rational objections to his policy preferences and furnishes reasonable responses to them. The book covers far too much ground, and so the work turns out to be pithy rather than deep, something one might anticipate from the immodest title. It can also be delightfully quirky: there's an extended aside on postmodern thought. There isn't much new here philosophically, but the author contributes some concrete policy proposals worth of consideration.
A thoughtful, if overextended, critique of big government. .