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Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy | [Bill Clinton]

Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy

President Bill Clinton gives us his views on the challenges facing the United States today and why government matters—presenting his ideas on restoring economic growth, energy, job creation, financial responsibility, resolving the mortgage crisis, and financial responsibility, and offering a plan to get us "back in the future business".
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Publisher's Summary

President Bill Clinton gives us his views on the challenges facing the United States today and why government matters—presenting his ideas on restoring economic growth, energy, job creation, resolving the mortgage crisis, and financial responsibility, and offering a plan to get us "back in the future business". He explains how we got into the current economic crisis, and lays down a plan for long-term prosperity. He also offers specific recommendations on how we can put people back to work, increase bank lending and corporate investment, double our exports, restore our manufacturing base, and create new businesses. He supports President Obama's emphasis on green technology, saying that changing the way we produce and consume energy is the strategy most likely to spark a fast-growing economy while enhancing our national security.

Clinton also stresses that we need a strong private sector and a smart government working together to restore prosperity and progress, demonstrating that whenever we've given in to the temptation to blame government for all of our problems, we've lost our ability to produce sustained economic growth and shared prosperity. He believes our ability to compete in the 21st century is dependent on our willingness to invest in infrastructure: we need faster broadband, a state-of-the-art national electrical grid, modernized water and sewer systems, and the best airports, trains, roads, and bridges.

"There is simply no evidence that we can succeed in the 21st century with an anti-government strategy," writes Clinton, based on "a philosophy grounded in 'you're on your own' rather than 'we're all in this together.'" He believes that conflict between government and the private sector has proved to be good politics but has produced bad policies, giving us a weak economy with not enough jobs, growing income inequality and poverty, and a decline in our competitive position. In the real world, cooperation works much better than conflict, and "Americans need victories in real life."

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2011 Bill Clinton (P)2011 Random House

What Members Say

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  •  
    Christine A. Haimann VA 01-08-12 Listener Since 2010

    ButtonsH

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great and it all makes sense"

    We loved this book and it all made sense as to what Bill Clinton says. Good reasoning and well laid out.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia Raphael SAN JOSE CA 01-04-12
    Virginia Raphael SAN JOSE CA 01-04-12 Member Since 2001
    ratings
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    3
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    "sound presentation"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    good discussion of the proper role of government.
    good ideas on how to help the economy and how to implement them


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-10-11
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-10-11 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A good overview with a touch of hope"

    For Bill Clinton this was a short book and he stayed on point and was concise. The book reviewed how we got into the mess and gives a list of possible actions to get us out. The biggest message is of hope that we can set this country and the middle class back on course again. He did down play the political blaming as best he probably could and included some of the republican suggestions to help us get people back to work. This book is a must read for everyone.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy Westford, MA, United States 12-05-11
    Wendy Westford, MA, United States 12-05-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hope for the unemployed!"

    I chose to read this book because I am unemployed for the second time in 3 years. 3 years ago, the company I worked for laid off all the employees and sold the building they owned. They pretty much went under. It was a very sad time for the many of us who had worked there over 10 years. I was unemployed for 14 months and finally landed another job which I held for a year until they laid off my entire department only to rehire the same positions for salaries of $10-15K less (we were never offered the option to accept pay cuts). I am a skilled project manager and marketer, but the Boston job-seeking environment is brutal and many hiring managers are biased against hiring the currently unemployed for their open positions. This is not just my paranoia - I hear many hiring managers who are directly told by their supervisors to look for younger candidates who are currently employed. Some help wanted ads even state "unemployed candidates need not apply."
    This book, I hoped, would provide me with some ideas for where our economy is headed and where it could go if we laid the groundwork to get masses of people back to work. I know there's no panacea, but I wanted to be aware of some ideas for how our country could grow to be stronger and how we can get people, like me, back to work who are willing to work hard, at reduced salaries, and put long hours if necessary. We are not afraid to work or work hard, we just need the opportunity. I was looking for someone who could help explain to me how the U.S. could make this happen.
    I found Bill's ideas very sound and compelling. The book starts by explaining how he had worked hard to put the U.S. in a good economic situation and when he left office unemployment was low and there was a government budget surplus. He explains where a lot of the surplus money went and how we got into the big debt hole we are now in. I think he does a good job of looking at the situation from a 30,000 foot view and not slamming any particular political viewpoint. He talks solely about the actions taken by each administration and how those actions led to the situation we currently find ourselves in. He holds government individuals accountable for their decisions and doesn't slam them or give them a pass based on their particular party affiliation.
    Presenting a list of over 30 suggestions for how we can improve the economy (which I found very helpful and inspiring), Bill gives props to many political leaders who are not Democrats. This is not a "Democrats are perfect, everyone else is messed up" tirade. He really takes a broad perspective view of the economic situation and provides his intelligently-derived suggestions for how we can move toward economic prosperity and get people back in jobs rather than leaving them on the unemployment payrolls. He talks about how we need a new, strong industry to focus on to create jobs and prosperity. This industry, he believes, is alternative energy sources and we need to move fast before other countries dominate this market and leave us to need to find another booming industry. We should be putting smart and targeted business ventures into place immediately that will make us a worldwide solution provider for alternative energy - and currently we are not even close.
    I liked that the book was narrated by Bill himself. His voice has been damaged a bit from so many years of talking so it's not as smooth-sounding as it used to be, but I always enjoy hearing the author narrate the book themselves because they know how it is intended to be read and put the emphasis in the correct places. Bill keeps his tone very even and calm even though, in places, I might have liked him to show more emotion to motivate the U.S. government to make changes NOW, not later. I think he could have done well to impress upon the audience that we have a window of opportunity to make the changes he outlines and that window is quickly closing. Once the window is closed, we will need to start over and to look to a brand new strategy. And who knows how long it will take for us to find the "next great thing" that will pull this economy out of the hole it's currently in. Hopefully this will happen before there are bread and soup lines in every major city in the U.S. filled by people willing and able to work.
    The book gave me hope that there are viable answers out there. They just need to be acted upon - and quickly.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 11-19-11
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 11-19-11 Member Since 2002
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    "great ideas, almost crowded out by political barbs"

    Nothin' beats listening to Bill Clinton read his own book. If you want to get to the meat of it, skip the first half, which is just finger wagging. In the second half, he gets rolling on jobs and energy, and the ideas are solid and numerous. If our legislators would listen to this book, and enact one-third of the ideas, we'd be heading in the correct direction.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 01-28-12
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 01-28-12 Member Since 2005

    Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.

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    "You Think !?!"

    How do you rate a book explaining that pro wrestling is fake? Are there really people out there who think that the Jews caused 911, or for that matter that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with it?

    The story line of this book earnestly explains that a lack of policing was a major cause of the sub-prime bubble and subsequent collapse of world markets up to and including much of the current trouble in Europe. Seriously, are there people who don’t know this? If so let me tell you they were crooks and at least 10% of them knew they were crooks, as did an awful lot of the smart money. For decades every Ph.D. in Physics has known that Black-Scholes is based on a bogus assumption. Do you really think that men like Greenspan or Summers had never overheard such discussions?

    Perhaps we don’t know how to talk about this. A failure to police Wall Street would have been referred to as a failure of regulations when I was young. The trouble is that this term has been cleverly co-opted into a euphemism for monopoly protecting legislation.

    But the wonkish part of the book is excellent. Literally, a systematic list of the top 50 things government should do, prioritized and color coded. Not exactly bedtime reading, but if you’re into this sort of thing, it’s among the best of the best in this genera.

    Also there is a world class centrist intellect on display in this book. If you’re old enough to remember centrist intellectuals, the book may have significant nostalgia value. It prompted my wife to ask rather the constitution prevented him from running again.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George Bryan, Ohio, United States 12-05-11
    George Bryan, Ohio, United States 12-05-11

    G L Strout

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    "Essential Reading before the next election"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have recommended this book to everyone I know.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Back to Work?

    Clinton gives us the facts and history to expain our current situation. His intellectual power shows through. He is a great teacher.


    What about Bill Clinton’s performance did you like?

    His sincerity and impatial approach lend credibility to his message.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Our currrent porblem started with Reganomics and we can not go back to that failed policy.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john 11-22-11
    john 11-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Independent's Opinion"

    In this book Bill Clinton has done a fine job of convincing me that we really do need to do something about our Congress's inability to get anything done. I watch both MSNBC and FOX to get both of the party lines, then I watch John Stewart and Jay Leno to laugh about both parties. But it's really not a laughing matter, that which is happening to our country. Every day that goes by is another day of lost opportunity. I guess we are going to have to wait till 2012 to change the make-up of the House of Representatives back to a Democratic majority so that things can be done to move this nation forward. I'd have felt differently, perhaps, if the Presidents Bill had been brought up on the floor of the House for debate the day after it was submitted. The Republican's refusal to even consider it or to make one themselves that addresses our economy had made me wonder if I should vote Democratic in the upcoming election. This book has cemented that view. What a shame for them. They could have had me firmly on their side if they had simply put forth a bill of their own that addressed these issues, those addressed here in this book. And there are so many suggestions that President Clinton puts forward. Using only a few of them could have put us all back to work and on solid footing years ago. I'm almost as sad for the fate of the Republican majority in the house as I am for the unemployed... naaaaaaaa

    12 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mitch Cordover 12-05-11 Member Since 2003
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    "Clear headed view of the situation"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Progressive or conservative, this is a must read for anybody who is concerned about the economy and frustrated with the grid lock in DC. Clinton has incisive insight into the workings of the economy and the politics of the time. He offers real insights into the what solutions are available or even underway by hampered by the government, at both the national and state levels. It is not a diatribe and does not take political sides. Where he differs from the parties, he explains his position, so there can be no accusation that this is anything but a very practical approach to getting people back to work. Not a book on economics, but a real revelation about economics.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The book is laid out in a sequence, but you could hardly call it a plot. He builds his case methodically, however. It is in no way text-book like.


    Have you listened to any of Bill Clinton???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Whether you liked him as a political figure or not, I've always like listening to Bill Clinton. HIs delivery clarifies the intent of his words. Is is varied and even has emotional content. He chuckles at himself or waxes impatient at times. I was concerned that a litany of economic programs might be hard to follow when read aloud, but Clinton's narration made it easy.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    While I did not listen to this in a single sitting, and I wouldn't recommend it, it was an easy listen. There is a lot here and I like to let it sing in in large bites. Unlike some books on this subject, it was easy to pick up where you left off.


    Any additional comments?

    If there is anything that would dampen you enjoyment, it would be breaking up the last hour of the book into too many sessions. It is a series of recommendations about economic programs that seems compact and coherent only if you hear them all in the same breath, as it were.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank Winter Park, FL, United States 01-04-12
    Frank Winter Park, FL, United States 01-04-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Unique ideology"
    What did you love best about Back to Work?

    Bill Clinton understands how to deal with stupidity without offending.


    What other book might you compare Back to Work to and why?

    The Secret because both books, although different in style, share a common denominator.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I liked them all.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Knowing that I'm not alone, but Bill Clinton shares my ideology.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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