Michael Harrington

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Common Cent$: A Citizen's Survival Guide

Editorial Summary

The world is changing. Fast. Revolutions in information, communication, economic liberalization, and political integration are bombarding us at a dizzying pace. Individually and collectively, we try to manage this change, seeking to adapt and thrive. One way we organize our collective action is through the exercise of public policy, but the landscape keeps changing and the old maps and blueprints seem inadequate to the task.

If our leadership elites understand how to manage these changes, it is not apparent from the results. Regrettably, our traditional media sources seem unable or unwilling to help by providing straight answers untainted by ideology and political partisanship. The stock market jumps higher one day, and crashes the next, but what exactly has changed between yesterday and today? Or tomorrow? Meanwhile, Main Street enterprises and average families struggle to survive, much less thrive. In a self-governing democracy, how do we navigate this growing chaos? How do we return to a world we recognize?

To start, we need to establish some touchstones to anchor our rational perceptions. Today, these touchstones must come from our own understanding. We need a basic intellectual foundation to guide our collective decisions because managing democracy is no longer the exclusive domain of the expert.

COMMON ĘENT$: A Citizenís Survival Guide seeks to satisfy this need. The guide is a basic primer that focuses on economics for non-economists and policymakers. Its author holds advanced degrees in economics, finance, and political science and has taught these disciplines at the university level. He has also worked in an investment management and consulting capacity. In contrast to conventional approaches, this guide offers a new way of understanding our society that departs from the economy as a mechanical system or programmable machine amenable to simple policy directives. Rather, the adopted metaphor is organic, holistic, and integrative. Our analysis focuses on resource inputs and outputs in a natural cycle over time. Rational, interactive human behavior becomes a key driver of this economic-financial-political eco-system.

In developing this approach, one can then tackle the nuts and bolts of the conventional policy world encompassing Federal Reserve monetary policy, the banking system, government fiscal policy, tax policy, public finance and social insurance entitlements. With a clearer perception as to how these various policies shape our world, we gain a greater understanding of the ways we have been affected personally through the gyrations of the financial, housing, and labor markets. In this respect, we may discover that intuition is more powerful than technical expertise.

This guide is not a compendium of solutions, but a framework for analysis so that citizens may design solutions together. Our financial and economic predicaments are not accidents of circumstance; we are not victims of fate. Our problems are of our own design due to misguided policies and faulty intellectual models of our world. The road back to sanity starts with small steps.

"A user-friendly manual that simplifies the political and economic policy landscape. A great resource. Send it to Washington!"

Selected Works

Nonfiction
Creativity and sharing lead to greater happiness, satisfaction, meaning, and healthy well-being. Together, the synergy and positive feedback they create forms the basis of Ultimate Killer Apps.
A short primer on economics, politics, and finance for understanding the most challenging current policy issues.
Political Fiction
A Novel of American Politics and the unholy alliance of money, politics, and religion.
Historical Fiction
An historical drama based on a true story of the Italian Renaissance.
An intriguing mystery of art, love, and Renaissance genius.