I know I'm a little late to this party, but I finally finished reading Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure, Glenn Beck's latest book. I thoroughly enjoyed his previous books, especially An Inconvenient Book and Arguing with Idiots, which I felt boiled down essential issues into terms anyone --even someone who is not a political junkie--can understand and enjoy.
To a certain extent, Broke is a sequel to An Inconvenient Book and Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government--they use the same style of writing, the same colorful graphs and charts, and the same page format and print style. However, keeping up with the tone on Glenn's radio show, Broke is a much more serious, urgent-sounding treatise on what-is-wrong-with-America-today-and-what-can-we-do-about-it. The "sky-is-falling" mentality which has been more and more prevalent on the radio (which, incidentally, is no longer on 1210 AM in Philadelphia) is on full display in the book, which, as the title suggests, is built on the premise that America is broke, and we have to do something about it ASAP.
When Glenn uses the term "broke", he means more than just financially. Modern America, he says, is lacking in many things besides money (although that is a huge issue as well). The steady decline of religion in today's society, the lack of fidelity to the Constitution, and the repeated fiscal disasters which the progressives have led us into are all topics Glenn goes into in detail in the book.
Glenn starts with a quick recap of U.S. history, starting with the fiscal philosophy of the founders (basically: debt is bad), and fast-forwarding through the 1800s to the beginning of the Progressive movement in the beginning of the twentieth century. Here, he introduces us to the first villain in the book: President Woodrow Wilson, the president who really started using the power of the federal government to impose his vision of a progressive society on the people, beginning with the progressive income tax. From Wilson, Glenn moves on to Public Enemy No. 2: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Under FDR's New Deal, he says, progressivism moved into the mainstream, where it gained its permanent foothold in the middle class in the form of Social Security.
Glenn continues through the rest of the twentieth century detailing the steady march of progressivism and progressive policies that have made their way into the American system, with the corresponding loss of some liberty and freedom with each step. From the New Deal, to LBJ's Great Society (Medicare and Medicaid), to Clinton's failed HillaryCare initiative, to Bush 43's Medicare Part D and Wall Street bailouts, to ObamaCare, Beck shows how progressive policies are in the process of bankrupting the country both fiscally and morally. Fiscally, because we are getting to the point where all taxes collected from the American people will only be able to pay for entitlements, without even paying the interest on the national debt. In addition, we will soon be paying more in interest payment every year than we spend on defense, which has always been a harbinger of disaster, starting with ancient Rome and continuing to modern times. Morally, because while our grandparents and great-grandparents would never have thought of demanding a handout from the government, we have been conditioned for more than a hundred years to demand that Washington "DO SOMETHING!!!!" about each new crisis (and it's always a crisis).
To fix the problem, Glenn says we will need a combination of things to get done. First, we need to get faith back into the daily lives of Americans. Second, we need to return powers to the state and local governments, as is dictated by the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment. Finally, and most of all, we need a total reform of the budget process, including the political "third rail": entitlements.
Overall, I enjoyed Broke. As I mentioned before, the tone of this book is a little more depressing than the last couple of Glenn's books, which made it a little harder to get through., but that wasn't the biggest problem I had with the book. My biggest problem is that Glenn specifically says that there doesn't have to be massive amounts of pain inflicted on the poor and the elderly in order to reform Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security--and then he doesn't go into any details! Besides that minor sticking point, I thought Broke was an enjoyable--if slightly depressing--read, which, if nothing else, will make you very wary of any politician promising things to people without giving details on how to pay for them.
Next book review, coming soon: Decision Points, by President George W. Bush.