Rebooting the American Dream | Thom Hartmann

Summary of: Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country
By: Thom Hartmann


Embark on a journey to rediscover the American Dream as Thom Hartmann explores the revival of the United States of America through an 11-point plan. Drawing inspiration from Alexander Hamilton’s historic 1791 plan, this summary examines the adverse effects of Reaganomics and the political decisions that led to a weakened middle class and industrial base. Hartmann reminds the readers of the importance of protectionism, the proper role of education and taxes in the economy, and the value of a balanced and healthy democracy. Moreover, this summary delves into alternative business models and key international examples to learn from, providing the essential blueprint for the much-needed reboot.

Rebuilding America’s Industrial Base

In its early years, the United States had no significant industrial infrastructure, relying solely on imports for manufactured goods. In 1791, Alexander Hamilton devised an 11-point plan to boost domestic businesses and establish a tariff system, creating the industrial powerhouse the US has become. However, Reaganomics and free trade policies dismantled much of this infrastructure, decimating the manufacturing base and middle class. The time has come for a new 11-point plan to reverse the damage and rebuild America’s industrial base.

America First

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the Stimulus Bill, saved nearly 3 million jobs. However, America’s weakened industrial strength made the stimulus package create millions of new jobs in China instead of the US. The solution to bringing back jobs to America is to restore manufacturing plants and implement protectionism, similar to South Korea, who became a leading manufacturer in 50 years. Protectionism works, and it is necessary to lose the fascination with free trade and impose high import taxes on foreign goods. This will infuriate corporate conglomerates, which have newly received influencing powers through the Supreme Court’s Citizens United judgment in 2010.

The Fallacy of Tax Cuts

Tax cuts for the wealthy do not equate to prosperity for all; instead, they result in stagnated wages for the working class. History shows that higher tax rates for the rich foster economic growth, whereas tax cuts destabilize markets leading to disastrous consequences. Reaganomics exemplifies this with its promotion of executive compensation and disregard for antitrust laws, leading to huge payouts for CEOs and the squeezing out of small businesses. America needs a leader to break up monopolies and bring wealth back to small businesses and communities. Clinton’s higher tax rates helped pay off the country’s debt.

The Control of Megacorporations: A Threat to American Business

In contrast to earlier thriving local business scenes in India or America before Reagan, megacorporations now dominate the US economy, which poses a problem for the American entrepreneur. Large businesses like Walmart and Home Depot avoid investing much in their operating communities, contributing to a rise in minimum-wage jobs. This situation worsens when US presidents fail to enforce antitrust laws. Such businesses benefit largely from government subsidies, leading to a need for new regulations that prevent these entities from dictating the marketplace. The US should, therefore, consider implementing new laws to prevent intramural combat among businesses and scrap tax loopholes to restrict companies from avoiding overseas taxes.

From Public Service to Hate Speech

The demise of the Fairness Doctrine and subsequent telecommunications-law overhaul saw the dwindling of public service news and rise of hate-speech radio. This left the electorate ill-informed, unable to make essential decisions for a healthy democracy. With the need for more information, tuition-free education is crucial in shaping knowledgeable voters. Thomas Jefferson believed in free college education to preserve the republic, despite California Governor Reagan’s spending cuts. America’s workforce is falling behind in the global economy, and it’s time to return to tuition-free education. Rolling back Reagan’s tax cuts is also essential for the country’s financial recovery.

Time for Universal Health Care

Universal health care is an essential program that reduces sufferings for both individuals and businesses. Among the developed countries, only the US lacks health insurance for all citizens, and it is the only country that allows for-profit businesses to offer medical services. This results in significant insurance company profits, which subsequently inflates premiums. The Obama health care law did not address these challenges as it failed to expand Medicare coverage to all citizens. The US should institute a “Part E” for Medicare, allowing anyone to buy into the system and achieve universal coverage.

The Power of Lobbyists

In 2009, lobbyists spent over $3.5 billion to influence Congress. Some lobbyists were even given government jobs to advance their former clients’ interests. To break the dominance of corporations, the Constitution needs to be amended. Unions can bring democracy to the workplace, while limiting banks’ investment activities and placing the Federal Reserve under the Treasury Department could also help. Citizens are encouraged to move their money to community banks or credit unions until the government takes action.

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