Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough


Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent

By Edward Luce

 Narrated by Ralph Lister

Edward Luce is an Oxford educated British financial journalist that writes for the “Financial Times, London”.  He is a modern British, rather than French, de Tocqueville with a less sanguine view of the current condition and future of America.


Luce makes some of the same observations made by Brezezinski in “Strategic Vision” (see PUNDITRY), Robert Draper in “Do Not Ask What Good We Do” (see AMERICA’S FRUSTRATION,) and Fareed Zakaria in “The Future of Freedom” (see FREEDOM IN DEMOCRACY”).

The first quarter of Luce’s book addresses the American education system and its failure to provide American children a basic education for pursuit of 21st century employment.  Luce suggests that the fundamental cause is loss of middle class financial stability.

America offers a good education to those who live in decent housing, have a living wage, and have an opportunity to grow into better paying jobs.  Luce suggests that those opportunities are declining in America because of growing socio-economic disparity.


Middle class parents are working harder and making less money with fewer chances to rise above their current, and dwindling, real incomes.  Parents cannot offer enough security and symbolic achievement for their children to think that early education is important.  Children see their parents struggling to make ends meet even though their parents may be relatively well-educated.  Middle class parents that lose their jobs compound children’s negative image of education as a pathway to success.

Adding this economic struggle to an education system that fails to offer opportunity for jobs that create vertical socio-economic opportunity dooms future American prosperity.  Luce suggests that teachers’ unions, most government programs, and efforts of “do-good” organizations like Bill Gate’s foundation are addressing the wrong issues in America’s failing education system.  America needs good teachers but until children see that the hard work of their middle class parents offers opportunity to grow out of a deepening middle class financial hole, they will continue to ignore the value of education.

Higher education in the United States is considered to be the best in the world but the primary beneficiaries are wealthy American families and foreign students; i.e. foreign students that are increasingly inclined to leave the United States because of a stultified middle class.

Luce disparages America’s loss of status in the world.  He suggests that America needs to re-visit manufacturing and become more than a service industry economy.  Luce believes America should become more protectionist by increasing import tariffs to offset unfair competition of economic power houses like China, India, Germany, and Japan.  His belief is that State subsidy of private industry in other nations is a primary cause for jobs being sent overseas.  His argument is that the American government should use those same tools to re-establish itself as a manufacturing behemoth.  One might call this a new kind of Cold War.

——————————————-THE NEW COLD WAR——————————————-

Luce is disgusted with the political grid-lock that consumes American government and changes it from a government of checks and balances to a Parliamentary mess; stultified by factionalism and focused on pursuit of re-election rather than good government.

“Jobs, jobs, jobs” is a phrase heard in every political speech given in today’s economy but it is more than jobs.  It is jobs that fulfill the needs of 21st century living; jobs that demand continuing education and investment in research and development by both the government and the private sector.  It is jobs that pay a living wage; with opportunity for Americans to improve their socio-economic status.  It is jobs that future generations can admire and emulate to make their own way in the world.


Luce does not give one the warm feeling felt when reading de Tocqueville but he rings a bell of truth when he writes about the loss of middle class participation in the American dream because of the growing disparity between the rich, the poor, and the soon-to-be poor.  [contact-form-7 id=”1710″ title=”Contact form 1″]

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