Last Call: 10 Commonsense Solutions to America's Biggest Problems

Rob Nelson, Author
Rob Nelson, Author Dell Publishing Company $12.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-440-50903-5
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Hardcover - 291 pages - 978-0-385-33407-5
Hardcover - 291 pages - 978-0-385-33408-2
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Bitten by the political bug at an early age, in 1992, shortly after his college graduation, Nelson cofounded Lead or Leave, a grassroots citizen's movement that sought to engage disenchanted Generation X voters in the political process. The organization's initial aim was to have candidates take a pledge to cut the federal deficit in half over the next four years. Although Lead or Leave had some early success--at one point it had more than 30,000 members--the movement closed its doors in 1995 due to lack of funds. Nelson came away from the experience convinced that American democracy is in serious trouble, mired in public apathy and lack of government accountability, and that the only way to save the system is not through minor modifications, but rather by a radical overhaul of the entire process. His first solution--for the public to vote all incumbents out of office this November--may be impractical, but many of his other proposals have been previously raised by others. Among them are calling for a constitutional convention (bolster the first amendment, he says, dump the second and add term limits), privatizing both the public school system and Social Security, replacing the current tax system with a flat tax and establishing a national lottery to wipe out the national debt. Given the cynicism that exists about politics today, which Nelson himself makes emphatic note of, one can't help feeling that he is tilting at windmills. But it is still encouraging to know that some younger people are willing to take a shot at reforming a process they view as outdated and ineffective. (Feb.)
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