Book Review: David Sokol and Adam Brandon’s ‘America In Perspective’

As seen in Forbes:

The question about whether America is in decline is arguably best answered by those who aren’t American. The reason for this is very simple: when all you know is the staggering abundance that defines daily life in the United States, it’s easy to become jaded.

This is worth keeping in mind in a U.S. where the “worst president ever” who is in the process of “destroying the United States” are thrown around with great frequency. It doesn’t matter who is in office, there’s always a sizable slice of the population certain that the individual occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is bringing on America’s ruin. The proponents of this gloomy narrative come off as spoiled, and also uninformed.

Evidence supporting this claim is the happy truth that the world’s poorest continue to risk it all (including their lives) to make it to the United States. This powerful market signal is an inconvenient truth for the dominant ideologies. To members of the Left convinced that rampant wealth inequality will be the U.S.’s undoing, the desperately poor who migrate to the most unequal parts of the world’s most unequal country mock you.

As for the conservatives thoroughly convinced that we’re on the fast track toward socialist desperation, the arrival of the world’s strivers similarly mocks you. And for those convinced that the would-be Americans at our borders just want handouts that a socialist government would provide until the money’s gone, they might explain why more people crossed back into Mexico and beyond from 2009-2014 than entered the United States. More than either ideology would like to admit, the tired and hungry risk it all to get into the United States the most when soaring inequality born of impressive economic growth is most evident.

All of which ably answers the question about whether America is in decline, and if the Dream is over. The migrations of human beings are easily the most powerful market signal of all, and at present the world’s poorest are loudly reminding us that the American Dream is alive and well.

The above is a useful jumping off point on the way to discussing America In Perspective, an essential new book by David Sokol and Adam Brandon (full disclosure: Brandon is my colleague at FreedomWorks, and someone I very much admire). They’ve written their book to counter a growing narrative that “our best days are behind us.” Considering immigration, they’re clear in their view that “the best way to determine the truth” about the U.S.’s health is “to look at what people do in the real world.” In the real world they’re setting their sights on the United States, and this explains why the authors are not buying what the pessimists on the Left and Right are peddling. But at the same time they’re realists. As they note in their introduction, there was a time when Argentina was regularly attracting the world’s ambitious in concert with towering economic growth.

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