Cover image for Five easy theses : commonsense solutions to America's greatest economic challenges
Title:
Five easy theses : commonsense solutions to America's greatest economic challenges
ISBN:
9780544749009
Physical Description:
282 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Contents:
Introduction and foundations -- Fiscal balance -- Inequality -- Education -- Health care -- Financial sector reform -- A concluding remark.
Summary:
America today confronts a host of urgent problems, many of them seemingly intractable, but some we are entirely capable of solving. Insurance executive and philanthropist James M. Stone presents specific, common-sense solutions to a handful of our most pressing challenges, showing how simple it would be to shore up Social Security, rein in an out-of-control financial sector, reduce inequality, and make healthcare and education better and more affordable. The means are right in front of us, Stone explains, in various policy options that -- if implemented -- could preserve or enhance government revenue while also channeling the national economy toward the greater good.
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Summary

Summary

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A business leader and esteemed economic thinker outlines simple solutions to America's five most pressing public policy issues, from healthcare to education to inequality.

America today confronts a host of urgent problems, many of them seemingly intractable, but some we are entirely capable of solving. In Five Easy Theses , James M. Stone presents specific, common-sense solutions to a handful of our most pressing challenges, showing how simple it would be to shore up Social Security, rein in an out-of-control financial sector, reduce inequality, and make healthcare and education better and more affordable. The means are right in front of us, Stone explains, in various policy options that -- if implemented -- could preserve or enhance government revenue while also channeling the national economy toward the greater good.

Accessible and thought provoking, Five Easy Theses reveals that a more democratic, prosperous America is well within our reach.


Author Notes

JAMES M. STONE is CEO of the Plymouth Rock Insurance Group and former chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission under President Jimmy Carter. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.



Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Stone (founder & CEO, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp.; former chair, Commodity Futures Trading Commission) looks at five broad problems the United States faces: budget deficits and unfunded future liabilities; income and wealth inequality; inadequate K-12 education and ruinously expensive college; an inefficient, expensive health-care system; and ineffective regulation of the financial sector. For each, he presents a number of thesis statements fleshed out with background and evidence to explain what is wrong and how to fix each issue. On Social Security underfunding, he demonstrates that the country's pay-as-you-go funding method is running into trouble as a result of a growing retired population. Possible solutions include privatization, higher taxes, and increasing the eligibility age. While the problems may be what he calls "easy," Stone accepts that the best remedies will be difficult politically with painful tradeoffs. -VERDICT In a presidential election year, Stone does a wonderful job summarizing these critical topics clearly for a wide readership.-Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Introduction and Foundations   Let me explain the title of this book. Americans, on the whole, are deeply dissatisfied with the inability of our government to solve a host of obviously consequential problems. Some are genuinely hard to solve because they don't have solutions that equitably resolve nasty tradeoffs between winners and losers. But the paralysis today is worse than that. Our system can't even seem to deal with eminently solvable problems. This book is about five of those. It presents straightforward answers to several of today's most important public policy issues. Or, more precisely, it asserts that straightforward logical answers to some issues are staring us in the face, yet there is no political path to their resolution. I hope you will declare this an unacceptable state of affairs. Worse still, the key issues are too seldom part of what passes for political debate these days. Politicians in both parties steer away from exactly the subjects they ought to be addressing in favor of sound bites, "gotchas," and mini-matters. My book title, I admit, is slightly facetious because the logic of the five issues is not entirely beyond debate and the politics may appear hopeless. But I wanted to make the point that these are issues politicians should stop running from. An alternative title for the book was Too Big to Touch. Please don't mistake the conversational tone or intentional lack of bombast in what follows for a belief that the recommendations offered here are of small consequence or could be readily enacted. Together, they are transformative and thus would be heartily resisted.   Americans disagree about many things, and so it shall always be, but I would wager at pretty good odds that most of you share the concerns embodied in these five questions:     Are you confident that Social Security and Medicare will be solvent enough to meet their promises when you and your children need them?     Do you want to live in a society in which a tiny fraction of the public and a few corporations hold a greater share of the wealth and influence than has ever been the case in America before? Can a society so tilted be as productive and stable, not to mention pleasant, as the America you grew up in?     Must your health care cost almost twice as much as it costs your counterparts in every other advanced nation, while our health system delivers objectively worse results than most of the others?     Why can't the schools of this affluent and admired nation train students not headed to college for realistic careers and stop busting the budgets and burdening the futures of so many who do go on to university?     Did we learn anything from the Crash of 2008? How have we allowed our financial sector to accumulate even greater derivatives positions than prior to the crash, to concentrate its assets in even fewer institutions than before, and to take home a massive and unprecedented share of the economy's profits?     I am a Democrat, but this is not a partisan book. Americans of every political stripeâe<âe< -- âe<âe As the problems grow larger, alas, it seems that our politics become smaller. It is standard fare in civics classes to describe democracy's requirement that officeholders find a balance between representing and leading, between following the wishes of their constituents and acting on their convictions. Similarly, there is a recurrent debate in campaigns for office between those who want to follow the polls at some critical moment and those who want the candidate to demonstrate courage and philosophical consistency. These tensions are inevitable, but today's balance is way out of whack. Few current politicians dare to go beyond nearsighted polls, and those who do are often dismissed in the media as hopelessly outside the mainstream. Scanning this forbidding landscape, many of you may have concluded that issues like those I have listed cannot be solved in ways that will provide any genuine benefits to you and your families. Perhaps you feel that a better life for your children has rather unexpectedly moved out of reach. America is in decline, some can be heard to complain; the century of America is in the past. To this, I say nonsense. I could hardly disagree more. This is, in fact, exactly the attitude I wish to challenge. That America has passed its peak is far from an inevitability. Ours is still the country that most favors, at least in the private and academic sectors, intellectual challenge to the established ways of doing things. And from this spring innovation and creativity no other society can match. The advantage, moreover, is proving robust. I will try to persuade you that the public sector can tap into this energy and become a worthier partner for the rest of the countryâe< -- âe The course corrections I advocate are largely off the table in contemporary politics. There are three ingredients of serious political progress, and all three are currently missing. The first is clarity of visionâe< -- âe This is not, on the other hand, to suggest that all those who fail to bring about transformative change are parasites. Some of the best in public life will try and fall short. It takes more than intellect, vision, and personal courage, however admirable, to produce great leadership success. Timing counts, too. In the history of any nation, there will be moments that particularly call for tilting toward compromise and moments that call for leaning toward courage. This country has been remarkably lucky to have great statesmen who have chosen a bold leadership path and rallied public opinion in times of obvious crisis. That's why we remember them as great. Ours are times of less apparent crisis. It remains to be seen whether, in the absence of charismatic events, leaders will riseâe< -- âe Excerpted from Five Easy Theses: Commonsense Solutions to America's Greatest Economic Challenges by James M. Stone All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


Table of Contents

Introduction and Foundationsp. 1
1 Fiscal Balancep. 15
2 Inequalityp. 54
3 Educationp. 99
4 Health Carep. 135
5 Financial Sector Reformp. 178
A Concluding Remarkp. 232
Acknowledgmentsp. 237
Notesp. 240
Indexp. 273