Book Review: JUMP- STARTING AMERICA

“How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream”

By Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson

PublicAffairs (2019)

Hazel Henderson ©2019

In “JUMP-STARTING AMERICA”, co-authors Jonathan Gruber (father of Romneycare and Obamacare) and former IMF chief Economist Simon Johnson kick off the 2020 presidential campaign debate!

Their book identifies the policies that led to the uneven, ill-thought out, GDP- growth led form of development that has produced the growing inequality and bypassing of so many in our globalized economy.  Thus, they join the many other authors whose books I have reviewed who describe the bankruptcy of economic textbooks and their so-called “economic laws” and which I also de-bunked in my “Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age: From Economism to Earth Systems Science”, Tomorrow’s Company and ICAEW, London, (2014).  I summarized these conceptual errors and magical thinking based on defunct formulas, and how going forward investments would have to be based on empirical evidence and on the sciences, social, physical and ecological.  Going forward in  “JUMP-STARTING AMERICA”, the authors point out that we have to put on new spectacles and see how so many smaller cities and rural areas in the USA got bypassed “as fly-over country” while the GDP economic growth statistics all highly averaged, operated as if policy makers were flying over at 60,000 feet … all useful detail missing on the skills and  resources of most of these citizens on the ground.

This book can bring many together in a trans-partisan view of actual reality, in just the same way that Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana has done in re-vitalizing this small over-looked city.  The authors also underline the importance of the debate over the Resolution in the 116th Congress on shaping the GREEN NEW DEAL, which recalls the policies of FDR and how government had to lead when the private sector faltered in organizing the needed national changes at scale.  Without government funding and pump-priming, in creating the vast water infrastructure around the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam, and the network of pipelines in Arizona, Los Angeles would still be a village!  The authors base their insights on the necessity for new government-private partnerships going forward, by citing how much of our recent innovation stemmed from the government’s space program, the medical research and scientific breakthroughs and taxpayer financing of R & D, the internet and supported most of the young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.  This recent research they cite is by economist Mariana Mazzucato in her “The Entrepreneurial State” (2017) and “The Value of Everything” (2018).  As she points out, we must not repeat the old economists’ model of giving all the upside to the subsidized entrepreneurs and ceding patents to their start-ups, while sticking the losses to the taxpayers.  From now on, if we are to jumpstart America and all other countries in a new form of globalization (see our TV show “Steering from GDP to the SDGs“), we must deal the taxpayers in to the upside AS WELL!

And get this book so we can all help join the debate about our future!