Saturday, August 1, 2009

Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-Of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine - Glenn Beck

Summary: In any era, great Americans inspire us to reach our full potential. They know with conviction what they believe within themselves. They understand that all actions have consequences. And they find common sense solutions to the nation's problems.

One such American, Thomas Paine, was no ordinary man who changed the course of history by penning Common Sense, the concise 1776 masterpiece in which, through extraordinary straightforward and indisputable arguments, he encouraged his fellow citizens to take control of America's future--and, her freedom.

Nearly two and a half centuries later, those very freedoms once again hang in the balance. And now, Glenn Beck revisits Paine's powerful treatise with one purpose: to galvanize Americans to see past government's easy solutions, two-part monopoly, and illogical methods and take back our great country. (Summary from back of book. Image from Powell's Books.)

My Review: There are technically two books here. The first half is Glenn Beck's Common Sense and the second half is Thomas Paine's Common Sense.

Glenn Beck's Common Sense was thought provoking. I will admit right now that I'm an Independent in my political leanings. I was raised by an Independent and a Conservative Republican. Also, being LDS I have been surrounded by many conservative lines of thinking for a long time. But, before you think I'm just a closet Republican, remember I'm also a teacher in the Pacific Northwest. If that doesn't mean anything to you, basically I'm surrounded daily by very Liberal Democrats. Education in the Pacific Northwest is almost entirely Liberal. I also went through the very Liberal education system here in the Pacific Northwest. I give you this information as I believe it informs my review.

There were aspects of this book I hadn't thought of and completely agreed with. There were aspects I had thought of and agreed with. And lastly, there were aspects that as an educator, I've heard before and do not agree with.

There are five main issues he brings up: 1) The Reshaping and Redefining of America, 2) Money: The real opiate of the masses, 3) The U.S. Tax Code, 4) Perks of the Political Class, 5) Cancer of Progressivism.

The first section deals with how we're changing as a nation, changing in ways that take us farther and farther from what the writers of the Constitution set up for us. A main issue here is the shift towards Socialism. He brings up that the original thinking of our Founding Fathers was that less government meant more freedom to the people.

The next section focuses on how we as a people are lulled into submission through money. We watch our government officials spending money we don't have, mortgating our land and our children's future to other countries with no thought for the future. Basically doing what the American people have been doing without the foresight that it can crash down. I have to agree with this section whole-heartedly. Spending money we don't have, not balancing our budget, and continuing to spend more money in ways that only make the debt worse is a HUGE mistake. And we're just letting them do it. Spending more money to get out of a depression or deficit will NOT make the debt go away. That's common sense. The book's title fits there.

The American Tax Code section was fascinating to me. I hadn't heard any of this. It focuses on how our government officals have used the tax code to punish and benefit people that in turn help them. It was quite disgusting to me, as an average citizen, to know how the laws have become corrupted over time. It also talked about the many government workers that work for this administration as well as the last that are mixed up in Tax evasion or HUGE mistakes by not paying their share. I know we've all heard of this. But sadly, they're not paying their due and getting the same consequences you and I would if we'd done the same blatant mistake. This part does irk me intensely.

And it leads perfectly into the next section about the perks and privileges of being part of the political class. They don't have the same worries that the typical American does. Their health care, their retirement, isn't the same as ours. This section pointed out that in the House there are 2 members who've served +/- 50 years--rough life if you look at their perks. It talks about how people in the two main parties (R and D) are the only ones who can really be elected because of money. If you don't raise enough money, you aren't put in office. It shouldn't be that way, but it is. It also talks about how the two parties pit the American people against each other and by doing so make it easier to get things done that they want. They are able to get the American public to focus on the little or more side issues, fight about them, and then do what they want by adding hundreds of pages at the 11th hour changing our bills (like the Stimulus Bill), etc. to fit their desires. I have to agree; I've heard of these things, but hadn't really thought too long about it. Now that I do, it is very disconcerting.

The last section deals with progressivism. Beck makes clear that it is both parties' fault for the situation we're in. Both sides have their hand in getting us in the mess we're in. But to focus on Progressivism it's apparent in what you see in the news media: the bias that exists. Progressivism is the thought-process that benefiting the group as a whole is more important than the individual's rights. Here's where it gets sticky. I see the good in both views. It is important to do what is best for the group at large, but it isn't good to take away individual freedoms. I feel this section is the hardest to sum up succinctly and admonish the reader the pick up the book to understand it for him/herself.

A couple points I'd like to bring up that bothered me are: 1) Despite this being a book that points out the faults of both parties, it does have a conservative slant--so take that into consideration. And 2) The section talking about education is both accurate and inaccurate. You cannot make a blanket statement on education and have it fit. He points out that the education system today pushes parents out of the equation and fills kids heads with liberal propaganda. This is true and not true simultaneously. In certain schools and districts parents are pushed out of the equation--some parents meddle, hang out, 'help' out, etc. to the point of making a teacher's life a living Hades. And then there are other districts and schools that would welcome a parent volunteer more enthusiastically than me welcoming chocolate. Teachers are becoming parents because parents aren't willing to be parents. You see? It's both ways. And I can't say it's right. It's just the way it is. And yes, there is a bias (at least here in the Pacific Northwest and anywhere else that's heavy on the liberal side) towards liberal propaganda. But, I'm sure in the South you'd see the opposite. I think where we see the disparity is in the media. I'm not sure I've seen an unbiased media outlet in years.

Beck also pointed out a key issue in relation to Paine's section: The phrase 'The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' was almost: "The right to life, liberty, and the acquisition of land." It wasn't phrased that way because the South may not have joined the revolt if they felt that slaves would have the right to land. Interesting little tid-bit.

The end of the book is a call to arms--but not arms like the Revolution of 1776. It was a call to every citizen to think for him or herself. That we stand up against the poor spending occurring in DC. That we vote for who we believe will actually do what they say and someone we can stand behind. It was a call to the American people to make change happen through ideas, not violence. I did feel it was a compelling argument that we as an American people should take to heart. We need to require the change of our civil servants that is best for US as a whole...not government or bickering parties.

Ok, now to the Thomas Paine section. This is old writing, old language, and frankly, a little hard to get through. I managed, but it was like going back and reading Shakespeare for the first time in years. The issues aren't worded the way we would today, but if you're patient, you'll understand the message. His main focus, which I felt was very informative, was how we got in the situation leading up to the Revolution--the tyranny of Brittain over the Colonies. I liked reading the history, the logic, and why there was a revolt. I liked learning the thought process that brought about the courage to stand behind a revolt that could have meant utter destruction to the people living here. I'd learned about this in school, but not in quite the passionate detail that Paine gives. It's worth a read. It made me appreciate what we take for granted--our freedom and our Constitution.

My Rating: 4 Stars.

Sum it up in one phrase: An insightful look at what our government is becoming with a remembrance of what inspired the government we now take for granted.

1 comment:

Editt said...

Wow! Thank you for this. I value this information. I wouldn't have considered reading this book without your review.

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