Book Seven Synopsis

Book Seven Synopsis

Series Overview | Dead Serious and Light-Hearted | Grading on the Curve
A Reasoned Case for Optimism | No Dog in the Fight | The Brilliance of Many

The Brilliance of Many
1,000 Ideas for Improving Life in America

The Brilliance of Many is the seventh and last book in The Chance of a Lifetime … series. It is wholly different than the prior books. I had not originally intended it to be a part of this series of books. However, I came to realize that, in a sense, it had to be written.

In the course of my continuing research for these books over these last years, I have been surprised and continue to be surprised, indeed overwhelmed, by the number of creative ideas which have been already offered up by the American people. Many of these ideas are good. Some of them are very good. A few of them are brilliant.

I readily confess to the embarrassment of my own surprise. I should have known that despite the anger of our headlines and the widely-reported acrimonious nature of contemporary America, many Americans were still working together — oftentimes in small groups or within small communities — to address the problems of American life. As a nation, we can no longer afford to have good people with good ideas work in isolation. We have the technology to do better, and we can no longer permit these ideas remain to remain unknown or under-reported due to a lack of funding or the too frequent disinterest of the media,

I have long suspected that some of the best ideas in America had the life-span of a good conversation. I have long feared that some of the most creative ideas (and, admittedly, some of the stupidest) arrive at closing time. They are scribbled on cocktail napkins, shown to a few friends, and then left on the bar to be quickly discarded and soon forgotten.

Nevertheless, as I read more and more over these years, I have come to better appreciate that many of the ideas which America needs are already “out there.” They have not been discarded. They have not been forgotten. They just have not yet received the publicity which they deserve.

Some of the ideas are complicated and are fraught with the potential for unforeseen consequences. Others are disarmingly simple. Some have been or are already being tried in locales all across America, but they are not receiving their just and needed presentation. They are worthy of broader consideration and application.

Most of the ideas presented in this book are culled from the books, speeches, articles, columns, research papers, books and blogs of others. Many of the best ideas seem to have been included almost as throwaway parts of books and articles written on various subjects. Too often that is where they seem to stay – left to die with the shelf life of the article, the magazine or the books in which they are placed.

This book also reminds us of the many potential sources of new ideas. Currently, there are about 312,000,000 Americans. In the United States alone there are more than 27,000,000 million corporations and employers, more than 275,000 large cities, more than 13,500 school districts, and more than 3,100 counties, parishes, and boroughs. In addition, there are thousands of universities and colleges, legislative bodies, public and quasi-governmental agencies and departments, think tanks, interest groups, religious congregations, social clubs and organizations, charities, business trade groups and associations, commissions, and study groups. To all of the foregoing should be added the ideas and experiences of other countries. Some of their ideas and practices are amazingly creative and worthy of consideration in and adaptation for America.

In sum, it is hardly surprising that ideas abound, but other problems do exist. Our large, diversified, and highly complex society creates numerous barriers to idea development, refinement, implementation, and publicity. These barriers themselves contribute to what is described in this book as “idea vaporization” which is alluded to above.

Other ideas get a bit further, but their implementation is too often frustrated by the interposition of legal barriers, by concerns about risks and liabilities, and by the relentless, project-deflecting search for reliable funding, As a result, good ideas are routinely forced to fall by the wayside. Good ideas are lost. Noble efforts are abandoned.

This book is partly presented because America no longer has the luxury of time. There is a strong need for the development of formalized, expeditious, and widely-known policies for encouraging, preserving, and circulating  new ideas.

The presentation of their very existence must become more accessible and more widely circulated. The need for the consideration of their potential must be more widely appreciated. The success or failure of ideas cannot any longer be allowed to so routinely depend upon the fortuitous interest of the media or the finding of a moneyed benefactor. We cannot allow good ideas to remain confined to small groups or within the private province of experts and subject professionals.

While these matters are discussed in this book, the core of this book is the compendium of ideas which this author came across in his research for this series of books. The ideas are presented without comment or recommendation. They are organized and indexed by subject and topic including, for example, business and economy, public debt and tax policy, education and literacy, environmental preservation, military and national security, political governance, political elections, social behavior, accountability, civility, crime, justice, and incarceration, health and health care delivery, and families and parenting.

You will find that a few of the ideas are large, grandiose, or even near crazy like when President Kennedy suggested on May 25, 1961 that it was “time (for America) to take longer strides” and to put a man on the moon or when President Reagan challenged General Secretary Gorbachev on June 12, 1987 to tear down the Berlin Wall. Big ideas; big results.

Most of the ideas, however, are far smaller, but collectively they are equally critical to the success of our country and to the remaking of American life. Most of them are ideas relating to matters closer to home. Initially, some of them may seem narrow and possibly even community-tailored or community-specific such as Geoffrey Canada’s ideas in the early 1990s about the creation of the Harlem Children’s Zone or the ideas of that small group of citizens in Albert Lea, Minnesota who decided in 2009 to live healthier and longer lives  by becoming the first pioneer town in the Blue Zone’s Vitality Project.

Some of the ideas address arcane aspects of our nation’s tax policy, securities regulation and insider trading rules. Other ideas relate to the matters of our judiciary — the misuse of our litigation system, the payment allocations of legal fees, and the various burdens of proof associated with criminal prosecutions and civil liabilities.

Some of the ideas relate to the media and our political processes. They address how we can make changes in order to encourage (and reward) a stronger sense of ethics and public responsibility in the media, and for correcting certain problems which are inherent in our system of political elections or in our highly system of campaign financing. Some of the ideas relate to our families, our children, and our communities such as ideas about teaching the meaning of education, the importance of life skills, and the tools and even skills of injecting more reason and civility into our American conversation.

The ideas are everywhere. They are merely in need of better organization, presentation, review and consideration. This book is merely the start of that process. This book will present 1,000 of the best ideas discovered over the last years of the author’s research. In a sense, it is humbly offered as a compendium and a commendation. It is a compendium of ideas, and it is offered as a commendation to — The Brilliance of Many.