Where's My Great Society? offers a progressive take on contemporary America from a Midwestern perspective. Political commentary with a scholar's touch is balanced by essays on root beer, dogs and cats, jazz, and more. The candor of Andy Rooney with a dash of Dave Barry, this is both a biting critique of contemporary politics and a celebration of what we can become if we get our act together. Serious and fun, as life should be.
On American government: "The test is how it serves as a people's union to ensure that the common good takes precedence over private advantage. As Bill Moyers has said, the rich can buy more yachts than the rest of us, but we can't allow them to buy more democracy."
On making English the national language: "Do we change the lyrics of thousands of popular songs with lines like "I ain't got nobody" to standard English as in "I don't have anyone"?"
On schooling: "Most students in every country but ours attribute school success to hard work and study; most American students credit native intelligence. This is not good news."
On excessive cell phone use: "It may damage our memories. Remember that, if you can, and if you have a connection lasting more than four hours, call your doctor immediately."
On spending $3 trillion in Iraq: "You'd think that in the trillion seconds since the Stone Age, we'd have gotten smarter than this."
On staying busy after retirement: "Maybe I'll write more of these columns. Maybe one of you will offer me a job so that I won't."
Where's My Great Society? is a collection of essays that originally appeared in The Record newspaper of Kansas City, Kansas, from the 1980s to 2011.
Jim Haas is an award-winning educator who took a teacher's advice and chose public service over a "vaguely promising musical career." After serving as an Air Force officer, he taught history and was a school principal in Kansas City, Kansas, suffering, he claims, "no visible after-effects." A newspaper publisher persuaded him to write a regular column about schooling, a project that continues today though expanded to topics beyond the halls of learning and to the contents of this book. Retiring from the public schools, Jim embarked on a second career as director of a university master's degree program for teachers. He and his wife, Kay, live with their two spoiled shelter dogs and a variety of suburban wildlife in Olathe, Kansas.