Sunday, May 08, 2011

Plucking the Eagle or Plucking the Reader? A Book Review

Some time ago I was offered a book to read and review. The book, Plucking the Eagle, Bringing Socialism to the United States by C. Francis James, or James F. Conroy depending on where you read of it, arrived in short order and due to reasons that kept me busy doing other things, wasn’t read right away.

For the last few years I have held an interest in learning more about the Federal Reserve and the pros and cons of keeping it or doing away with it. The book was said to contain a whole chapter addressing the Fed, which is where my main focus was reading it. I was quite disappointed with the chapter as it does not address the actions of the Fed itself, but rather focus on what I refer to as “Ron Paulian conspiracy theories” in how the Fed came to be.

While I see problems in the Federal Reserve and the need for multiple changes, not the least of which is more transparency, I also see grave dangers should it be ended and the Treasury be handed back control of our economy. Elected politicians and appointed cabinet members could easily benefit major contributors to their campaigns to be elected by “tweaks” to our monetary policy in their favor.

Worse yet to me, without actually mentioning them, the conspiracies seem laid at the feet of “the Jooz” with the authors’ use of certain names. We read of the “Bilderberg Group” long a favorite of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. We read of Jacob Schiff of Kuhn Loeb & Co. and more and how these select groups actually engineered the attack and sinking of the Lusitania to draw America into World War One by “JP Morgan using his considerable influence to squash a German ad warning of sailing on the Lusitania” and how “Winston Churchill, then as First Lord of the Admiralty ordered a recall of the destroyer escort accompanying the Lusitania” when she sailed on May 1, 1915 to her fate. The ad actually ran in 50 American newspapers.

1,119 people lost their lives in that sinking, including about 128 Americans. It did outrage the American people, but it should also be noted that the ship was sunk on May 7, 1915 and America did not enter World War One until April 6, 1917 2 years later and after the sinking of seven U.S. merchant ships and the publishing of Germany’s offer of a Mexican-German alliance should America enter the war in what was labeled the Zimmerman Telegram.

The author rightfully notes that socialism has been creeping into American culture and is a grave danger to freedom loving people. However, multiple conspiracy theories easily shown to be of questionable nature hinders the reader from absorbing the dangers of a wholly socialistic society.

I came away with the impression that the author had his conclusion and then selectively sought out support for that conclusion, ignoring any historical fact to the contrary.

Also of concern to me, as I have seen in several other conspiracy theorists works, solutions to the problems they mention are either non-existent or scant. “Plucking the Eagle” follows that formula.

After the “Conclusions” segment of the book, there is a “Final Thoughts” that lays out some ideas, although few. The author begins by calling attention to how expensive our prison system is, which is true. He offers the solution of “reinstating a form of Penal Colony system” like Devil’s Island where those criminals he labels as “Hard Core,” sentenced to 10 years to live, would be sent to live in tents, Quonset huts or other minimal housing. He then goes on to state they could be monitored with GPS bracelets, camera surveillance and Navy or Coast Guard ships. We would supply them with food.

For those sentenced to less that life imprisonment, once their sentence is served, they would be retrieved to reenter society.

I could agree to such an arrangement for those sentenced to life, notwithstanding the expenses of monitoring by GPS, camera surveillance and Navy or Coast Guard ships. But, after 20 or 30 years living in such a Penal Colony, do you believe that criminal would return rehabilitated and remorseful?

He mentions prisoner work crews which I also agree with, to a point. Brutal chain gangs seen in the South in past years have no place, but low-risk prisoners doing physical labor by cleaning up roadways, trimming landscaping or even growing their own food would benefit all.

Then again, many of these conspiracy theorists also advocate decriminalizing drugs that if done would also reduce the numbers of low-risk prisoners available to perform such public works.

Then too are all of the bleeding hearts that brought us to this point who would mount a strong offense against such measures.

The author rightfully brings up the out of control expense of Illegal Aliens in the country. He also mentions the need to return to the constitution as our Founders intended it. The problem there is that they wrote nothing into the constitution to address Illegal Immigration. That was declared to be the intent by judicial decree, the very thing constitutionalists today condemn in other decrees.

The call of returning to an earlier time when America thrived and 100 years ago when we had the highest standard of living in the world might be appealing to some, but history shows that era, widely referred to by many as the “Robber Baron era,” was one in which our life expectancy was much shorter, few homes had electricity or running water, work hours were much longer and dangers of death on the job much greater. Children were forced to labor long hours under squalid conditions as was brought to the public’s attention by The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Trial in 1911 where 146 mostly young ladies lost their lives.

Throughout the book the author brings up legitimate concerns worthy of addressing, but clouds them with conspiracy theory and at best simplistic views on solutions. It is a well-known fact today that socialistic labor unions have used the very incidents listed above to take more credit than they deserve in bringing about change that did give Americans a higher standard of living. They ignore how Industrialists like Henry Ford instituted many changes for the worker realizing he could increase his profits by doing so.

We conservatives must admit how limited socialistic policies did improve the plight of the lower income worker; increase the safety of our food and medicine supply and decrease debilitating disease epidemics. What seems to escape both the author and me is how we get those policies back in check.

Fomenting wild conspiracy theories will not accomplish that.

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