What's Wrong With America?

Is Something Broken?

Is America in trouble because we have the tools but we're misusing them? Or maybe we're in trouble because we don't even know what we need?

Have we been thrown off by our bad habits? Too much cleverness? Not enough wisdom?

Getting America Unstuck is a timely book for a troubled people. It's written for those distressed by America's persistent stuckness. If we wanted to get America unstuck, could we do it?

Getting America Unstuck says, "Yes." And then it gets us started. This website is here to promote Getting America Unstuck and the insights it offers.

And, building on this, I invite followers of this website to embrace an even harder challenge – The Healthy Civilization Challenge.  The long-run survival of our civilization is in peril. And there are no grown-ups. No one in any camp knows the way forward.

This confusion must not last.  We share a deep responsibility for our civilization’s future. Together let’s rise to the challenge.

The Conversation America Needs

America's Healthy Civilization Conversation

It's time for a thoughful conversation about how we Americans are to govern ourselves.

Here's a riddle for you.  What do the movies Casablanca and Moneyball have in common with the Chicago Cubs? Answer: The Epstein family. The Epstein brothers, Philip and Julius, were key scriptwriters for the movie Casablanca. Philip Epstein's grandson, Theo Epstein, soaked up the baseball lessons featured in the movie Moneyball and turned first the Boston Red Sox and then the Chicago Cubs into world champions.

Now think about the way our nation governs itself. There's no one in American politics today capable of being the Theo Epstein our democracy needs.  Both parties are adrift, playing well below anyone's idea of championship ball.  Republicans are adrift, Democrats are adrift. We are a nation of so much cleverness and so little wisdom, and adrift far more than we can afford.  

Our weaknesses are deep and broad. If they are to be overcome, we shall have to take them on, together, and work them through, together. Can we bring our shared spirit of ambition to bear on our search for civic wisdom? Can we aspire to championship performance as a self-governing republic? Yes, and yes, provided that we're willing to care. Provided that we're willing to recognize our shortcomings.

First we will want to raise our sights. And then we will want to initiate a wiser way of working things through. 

Let's call this new chapter our Healthy Civilization Conversation.

So this website will do more than advertise a book. It will also host a Healthy Civilization Conversation. 

Pursue the Conversation

Table of Contents

Introduction - Getting America Unstuck

“A JOURNEY OF POSSIBILITY.”

1. American Stuckness–On So Many Fronts 
“If they can’t explain the numbers, they shouldn’t be President.” 

2. Toward a Politics of Character and Craftsmanship
“Because big corporations don’t have moms keeping them in line.” 

3. Why Have We Gotten So Badly Off Track? 
“How America’s stuckness came to be.” 

4. Craftsmanship – The Cummins Example 
“Aiming for ten thousand times fewer defects.” 

5. Craftsmanship – The School Reform Example 
“Teasing out the difference between reform and transformation.”

6. Craftsmanship – The “Inequality” Challenge 
“The Federal Government changed sides.” 

7. Craftsmanship – Are Economists Part of the Problem? 
“They have yet to notice the difference between cost signals and wealth signals.” 

8. Craftsmanship – The Urban Poverty Challenge 
“Can we free our cities from Jim Crow Lite?” 

9. Craftsmanship – The Retirement Challenge 
“Large-scale problem, small-scale answers.” 

10. Craftsmanship – The Medical Affordability Challenge 
“If it walks like a cartel, and it quacks like a cartel, what is it?” 

11. Craftsmanship – The Global Warming Challenge 
“Not just another emission cleanup problem.” 

12. Craftsmanship – The Clean Energy Journey 
“Fossil fuels won’t go away . . . until we have something better.” 

13. Craftsmanship – The Sustainability Challenge 
“Preparing to sing God’s praises for the next ten thousand years.” 

14. Craftsmanship – The Clean Politics Challenge 
“Why do we permit politicians to pick the voters they want?” 

15. The Hard Work of Getting America Unstuck 
“Time to embrace character and craftsmanship.”

Acknowledgments