An examination of 1) how and why major American institutions no longer serve us as they should, causing a deep rift between the vulnerable majority and the protected few, and 2) how some individuals and organizations are laying the foundation for real, lasting change.
Tailspin distinguishes itself within the America Gone Wrong genre in three important ways. First, it comes to life when Brill focuses on the legal shifts and stalemates that ushered in the country’s current predicament, examining how these changes rippled across the rest of society ... Second, as the subtitle suggests, Brill leavens the gloom of Tailspin with vignettes of individuals and organizations working to counteract the overarching negative trendlines. These range from college presidents who prioritize admitting deserving, underprivileged students to OpenSecrets, which provides greater transparency into campaign contributions. It may sound medically impossible to get revved up about sober, middle-of-the-road think tanks like the Bipartisan Policy Center or the Center for Responsive Politics. Brill nonetheless manages to inspire with stories of government made good ... The third way in which Tailspin distinguishes itself is the number of times the phrase 'unintended consequences' appears ... Brill describes so many unintended consequences that he may leave the reader skeptical about whether any reform efforts can improve matters. He would have been better served to devote more attention to systems that actually work ... In a downbeat era, Tailspin offers some modest ammunition for hope.
The eagle has crash-landed, or it’s about to, leaving a trail of red stuff on the cover of Steven Brill’s new book...'Is the world’s greatest democracy and economy broken?' Brill asks at the outset of Tailspin ... The country may not be in utter shambles, Brill argues, but it’s getting there. President Trump is just the latest manifestation of rampaging anger and resentment. Declining social mobility, a shrinking middle class, widening income inequality, crumbling infrastructure — there’s plenty to be mad about, and plenty of blame to go around.
Here you’ll find explanations for, among other things, how elected officials came to spend 20 or more hours a week calling rich people for money; why it’s now mandatory for workers and customers to sign away their rights to corporations by agreeing to non negotiable 'terms and conditions;' why pretty much no financier was punished for the global financial crisis; and why our most basic infrastructure is in such abysmal shape that crossing a bridge is a click of Russian roulette ... A key moment of the book comes when Brill asserts that 'Americans need to get better at democracy'...by way of encouragement Brill offers the Arab Spring as an example of modern revolution...it’s clear that Brill aimed to strike a hopeful tone wherever possible, and in some places that feels hollow...yet perhaps there is cause for optimism. On the day that I finished reading Tailspin, teachers in North Carolina were striking for better funding for their schools and fair pay for themselves, and a dynamite activist called me up to say she’s running for state senate. As Brill makes clear, America has been on a 50-year tailspin—but maybe there’s an upswing ahead.