Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book: Peter Peterson's Running On Empty

My latest read, "Running on Empty" was a romp into the nightmare world of entitlement funding or, more accurately, lack of funding. Peter Peterson, a former Republican Secretary of Commerce, takes a very even handed approach to pointing the finger at both The Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between. The book suggests that if nothing is done soon, the retirement of the Baby Boom generation will bankrupt the nation because of the tidal wave of demand on the Social Security and Medicare system. Peterson paints a really scary picture of what may happen. The younger generations will either have to pay exorbitant payroll taxes or benefits will have to slashed or both. He backs up this horror story with statistics, demographics, and cold hard facts. It is hard to argue with the material in the book ... well maybe not for someone more knowledgeable in government program finances than I. Knowing what I do know, I tend to agree with Peterson's conclusions.

The book ends with two chapters - one that suggest how we can avoid this fate of financial ruin and another that is a letter to the younger generations. This was refreshing since most doomsday books rarely have realistic solutions. They just toss out the bomb and hope someone else will fix it. Peterson actually suggests realistic solutions. Let's just hope we all wake up and get our act together soon.

The book was well written and didn't get too bogged down in the numbers. I was pleasantly surprised - this type of book can sometimes drag and feel like your slogging through mud. This one didn't. I only wish the tone of the book wasn't so shrill. Other then that, an interesting read.

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