“A New Birth of Freedom” – Steve Forbes
Vision for America
Entrepreneur & Political Commentator, Steve Forbes, charts a simple yet profound course for America’s rebirth with his 1999 book, A New Birth of Freedom. A 1996 republican candidate for president and longtime editor of Forbes Magazine, Forbes proposes policies and methods throughout from a place of authority and sense. Covering topics from the tax code to the environment, few stones are left unturned in this manual of sorts fashioned to cut waste and focus on what matters most to Americans.
A New Birth of Freedom reads more like Forbes’ blueprint for his presidential bid than a compelling charge for Americans to reconsider republican ideals. With that said, I’m more than content to trade elegant language for something that’s straight forward and worthwhile! In delivering a worthwhile and judicious read, Forbes should be commended also for his common sense positions and free market tendencies. With many of his petitions either replicated today by conservative thinkers or re-purposed in some form in the political circuit, the bulk of what Forbes details in this book is nothing short of visionary.
Grade – B+
A Focus on Education
Education takes clear precedent in ‘A New Birth of Freedom,’ and rightly so. Forbes presents an intriguing list of ideas that very well could resolve the education crisis in our country. If you don’t believe that there is a crisis consider the rapid descent of American students’ text scores compared to that of other developed countries.The answer, according to Forbes, rests in a shift of power and control away from government bureaucrats and into the hands of parents and teachers. Who better to develop curricula and assess their student’s aptitude and mode for learning than they themselves? How and why would politicians or un-elected federal workers know more about educating students than local teachers and parents? Forbes repeatedly asks this question in countless forms while driving home the point that it just isn’t sensible that the solution to education in America be a centralized one. Some of Forbes’ common sense education initiatives include encouraging the growth of charter schools as a public school alternative, visiting and learning from schools that get it right, empowering parents that choose to home school, and allowing for private school choice by following the example of U.S. cities like Milwaukee that have gone down this road with success – and without the help of Washington elites.
True conservatism is grounded in limited government
Forbes understands throughout his book that at the heart of true conservatism is the idea that the citizens know much more about the advancement of a society than the government. And really such is the design of our republic. Burdensome regulations and restrictions, in Forbes’ view, have greatly stifled the office of the entrepreneur and consequently the innovation and opportunity that the entrepreneurial spirit creates. To Forbes, entrepreneurism is as American as apple pie and thus limiting its devices through crippling taxes and complex rules is nothing short of un-american. From the business sphere to healthcare, government in America was never meant to assume wisdom over its citizens, in fact, quite the opposite. In the chapter titled “The Magic of a Free Society,” Forbes is quite comfortable comparing the founding fathers’ understanding of a divinely inspired human nature to our country’s early success. Understanding the individual as unique, valuable, and unavoidably autonomous will naturally bring about a governmental model that pursues freedom, not populism. And to quote fellow free market pioneer Ron Paul, “Freedom Works.”
“…as we go into the twenty-first century, we need public policies that protect human capital and inspire young entrepreneurs. We also need leaders who are fundamentally committed to shifting money, power, and control from the ‘they the government’ back to ‘we the people.'” (PG.43 – A New Birth of Freedom)
The Concept of the ‘Flat Tax’
In the chapter titled “Tear Down this Tax Code” Forbes points to an extremely simple and extremely fair system that would replace the complex, bureaucratic tax code we currently have. In actuality, if Forbes was free to impose his way, filing your taxes would take less than five minutes! Interestingly, anyone following the race for the 2016 Republican primary would know that a similar plan has been proposed by presidential hopeful, Rand Paul. Logically speaking, I don’t know of any fairer or more just system than this, so I think Forbes is on to something here. Everyone pays the same percentage of income tax and people who create jobs and have accrued wealth aren’t discriminated against. In addition, odd loop holes are easily avoided and filing your taxes isn’t something you dread every April. It literally takes five minutes and you don’t have to be a CPA to pull it off! Moving toward this type of tax system too, as a supporter of governmental methods that actually work and promote economic sustainability, would eliminate the worrisome socialistic tendency of excessively taxing the rich.
As stated, this book isn’t a literary piece of art and it’s probably not intended to be in all fairness. However, if there was a semblance of organization as to how this book is set up and ordered, I was unable to find it. In addition, Forbes strays from what I’d call true conservatism on a small handful of issues, one of them being foreign policy. His antiquated “conservative” view of being involved in anything and everything globally misses the conservative heart and frankly doesn’t work if you use history as a guide. I’m not promoting isolationism, but I would challenge the author to think of even one time in the past half century where training up “democratic” forces to overthrow an unjust regime (something that Forbes proposes in the Middle East) has actually worked or at least has been a good use of American tax dollars. This type of thinking is something that I would hope conservatives would put to rest heading into the 2016 election and beyond.
Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org