I’m a pretty politically aware person. I keep up with current events, I have a decent sense of history, and I am a voracious consumer of news and books. I’ve read Glenn Beck’s other books, and looked forward to reading his new release, “Broke”. As I worked my way through it, there was quite a bit of information that I was already aware of. There was also quite a bit that I had never heard before. What struck me, though, was the powerful message in putting all of the information in the book together, weaving a narrative through it, and connecting the dots. This is one of the best non-fiction books that I have read in a very long time. My only complaint is that it’s non-fiction. I wish Beck was making this stuff up – I could sleep better at night if I knew that none of this was true.
“Broke” is divided into three sections. The first section– “The Past is Prologue” – traces the roots of modern progressive politics back through this nation’s history and illuminates the echoes of our current moral and fiscal crisis that can be found throughout history. The second part – “The Crime of the Century” – details just how bad a shape our country’s finances are in, how the government obfuscates that fact, and how it is helping drive that particular bus over the cliff. The last part – “The Plan” – lays out what we really need to focus on fixing in order to right our ship.
Part of the brilliance of “Broke” is the format of the book itself. It uses much the same format as “An Inconvenient Book” and “Arguing with Idiots”. Instead of taking a straight prose style, the book is framed up much like a modern textbook. Packed with nuggets of information and an appealing visual presentation, what would be dry and tedious on the plain white page is instead something exciting and engaging.
I have a habit now, when reading books, of placing small bookmarks at pages that contain a quote or thought I want to reference in my review, or refer back to when formulating my thoughts. (On the Kindle, I made very good use of the highlighting and annotation features – a true godsend). As I read through “Broke” I quickly realized that I was adding a new marker every page or two. I would read for 4 minutes and find another nugget I wanted to remember. It became unwieldy after a while, with my book looking like it had sprouted a fungus of small ripped paper chunks out of it’s head.
Why do I mention this? To make that point that this book is FILLED with useful information. It’s packed with knowledge that you might know, but never put together within the context of a bigger picture. This is not a book to be read as much as it is a book to be studied. It’s a book to be taken off the shelf at regular occasions and re-read. Quite frankly, it’s a book that every elected official in Washington should read.
So, what did I learn from “Broke”? I learned ten very important, yet simple things:
- There are very few things happening today that haven’t happened to someone, somewhere before. History is a great teacher – if you take the time to listen.
- There is no such thing as a “living Constitution”, only a living God. Our rights do not come from the government, they come from our Creator.
- Nowhere are you guaranteed equality of outcome – only equality of opportunity. Chasing the false mirage of equal outcomes is bankrupting our country and eroding our soul.
- The States must reassert their rights. Everything not explicitly delegated to the Federal government in the Constitution is reserved to the States and/or the people. Not some things, not most things, not everything but the “big stuff” – EVERYTHING.
- Entitlement spending will destroy this country if left unchecked. It cannot be sustained. We can either reform it now or watch it collapse later – either way, it CANNOT be sustained.
- The answer to our budget crisis is simple – we need to spend less than we make. Anything else is just meant to obscure what is really going on in Washington. Ignore it all. We just need to spend less than we make. End of story.
- Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should pay taxes. If you don’t have skin in the game, you don’t care about the final score. We all live here – we should all help pay the bills.
- Digging out from under the mountains of debt we face will not be easy. It will be painful and require sacrifice on everyone’s part. The sooner we face those facts and set ourselves on a road to fiscal sanity, the sooner we can get past the sacrifices required.
- You can’t separate the fiscal crisis we face from the moral crisis we face as a country. If we lose the unique American culture that celebrates Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – spending programs and debt ceilings ultimately won’t matter.
- Where there is truth, there is always hope.
Regardless of your opinions of Glenn Beck – read this book. Look at the facts he lays out. Look at the massive amount of debt we are accumulating. Look at where history says we are heading. Look at it all with an open and critical mind and tell me that it doesn’t scare you. It should. It sure scares me. We’re like the man who falls off the top of the Empire State Building. All they way down he keeps telling himself – “So far, so good.” That’s where we are today – Washington D.C. keeps telling us that we are doing fine. We are too big to fail. “So far, so good.” Just remember another truism – it’s not the fall that gets you; it’s the landing.
The good news is – it’s not too late. We haven’t hit the ground yet – but people need to wake up. People need to make their voices heard. Don’t wait for someone else to speak up for you – don’t wait for someone else to fix the country’s problems. It’s OUR country. These are OUR problems. It’s up to US to solve them.
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