Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise

Provided free from Amazon Vine.

This book is apparently the third in a series. The first two, Covenant with Black America and The Covenant in Action were aimed at the African-American community (of which I am not a member). This third--and final?--in the series is aimed at a larger audience, I'm assuming because we now have an African-American president who is accountable to all of us. The book tells real-life stories in areas of concern like health care, education, the economy, etc.; sets out various possible solutions; then provides a checklist for how each player--including we individuals--can be held accountable.

I chose this book because I have enjoyed Tavis Smiley's work on NPR, I do believe in citizen involvement and have my own ideas how each of these situations needs to be handled, and because I had my doubts as to whether candidate Obama's rhetoric on change would translate to President Obama's action plan.

I was disappointed, but to be fair, it had a lot to do with the timing of my reading. First, in the midst of this severe economic downturn, tragic tales like people losing their medical insurance elicited not my usual empathy, but a panicking fear about my own situation. Second, I didn't see any of the authors' solutions being particularly workable. Third, I wasn't sure I saw the point in listing the ways that, say, insurance companies should be held accountable when I'm betting their CEOs aren't even reading the book, and fourth, the list of things individuals could do were pretty much the same as they've always been--call your Congressman, vote, get involved. Nice when you are talking about saving the park down the street from development, but paltry in light of the issues we face today. Also, as of now I'm pretty pleased with Obama's action plan and his no BS style of putting it forward. The man's feet haven't been removed from the fire once since election day, and I think it's time to stop questioning his every move.

As recently as last year, with more hope in the economy and less hope in our elected officials than I now have, I might have found this book motivating and uplifting. Reading it now, I actually found it somewhat depressing.

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