4 out of 4 stars
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Jillon R. Rising identifies as an "average Joe" American who grew up working-class in Chicago. He and his brother have owned a successful mid-sized construction company there for thirty years. In The Solution is Political Revolution, Rising lays out his view of the current state of the U.S. economy and government – and it's not a pretty picture. He expresses concern over a burgeoning public sector that fails to perform and has consistently eroded social security cash surpluses. Expanding on the monopolization and consolidation of industries, centralization of government, divisive politics, and a media that "fuels and embraces extremism," Rising is critical of what he sees as a political system hamstrung by lobbyists and an unhealthy dependency on Wall Street to maintain a fiat monetary system. The Solution is Political Revolution presents Rising's proposals for shifting the U.S. from a two-party "representative democracy" to a real democracy where the government can be held accountable by the citizens it serves.
At first glance, Rising's provocative choice of title, and even his claims of bipartisanship, smack of the conspiracy theorist. But perhaps that response justifies his view that the media presents Americans in terms of far-left or far-right right extremists when the truth is that the majority "identify as centrist." Rising's arguments are more nuanced than cookie-cutter "Red versus Blue politics." He is anti-Obamacare not because he is a Republican but because he has analyzed how Social Security surpluses were used to plug budget deficits and bail out big corporates and the super-wealthy. He calls into question the wisdom of introducing further comingled entitlement funds such as the Affordable Care Act into an environment where they too could be siphoned out and replaced by treasury bonds that are effectively government IOUs.
I appreciated Rising's use of simple statistics (with sources) to prove his points. A constant refrain throughout the text is the issue of retiring baby boomers (those born in the twenty years after World War II.) Translate that to 51 million exiting the workforce at a rate of 10,000 per day for the next twenty years, and one immediately realizes the scale of the problem. If not, then consider those boomers constitute 28% of the U.S. population, account for half of all consumer spending, and that 75% of them will claim benefits on retirement out of necessity. Then understand that by 2025, two workers will be contributing to each retiree's social security versus the sixteen that did so in 1950. Other examples of Rising's impactful use of numbers include a comparison of earnings for a carpenter versus an accountant servicing a student loan, the annual growth in the nation's deficit, and the breakdown of who owns its debt.
Finding fault with this book feels like nitpicking, but if I have any criticism of Rising, it would be his view of himself as the "average Joe." This naivety is exposed in his proposed solution, the basis of which is that the 326 million citizens of the U.S. outnumber the 5 million "guilty" within the federal government and Wall Street. But how many of the 326 million would be capable of accessing his arguments, let alone acting on them? If Rising suspects the 5 million of deliberately sowing division amongst Americans as a distraction tactic, then he should perhaps consider the intention and impact on education and energy levels of the policies they impose on under-resourced communities.
I'm rating The Solution is Political Revolution 4 out of 4 stars because although I found two typos, it was otherwise well-edited, researched, and written. It's thought-provoking and written for the layperson, but it relies on the reader being reasonably numerate and familiar with financial terminology. I'd recommend it for all Americans, but realistically readers would have to have a desire to penetrate through political rhetoric to understand the downstream effects of White House policy decisions on their pockets and lifestyle. I'd also recommend it to readers involved in policy-making – Rising's proposals are naïve in many cases but still worthy of debate.
The Solution is Political Revolution
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