Zell Miller's National Party No More
This book is part memoir, part how-to and part what went wrong. It's all about the Democratic party and where it was fifty years ago versus where it is today. and how it got that way. Miller writes about his upbringing, and how it shaped is outlook on life and Government, as well as the events that drew him into the political limelight, from local office to the U.S. Senate. He is in depth, candid, and honest about his triumphs and failures (of which he has had very few). Why he is considered a Conservative, and the changes he helped bring about to make Georgia a better State.
Miller has held many different offices, elected as well as appointed, during his career, and he touches on all of them. His early campaigns consisted of many local appearances, staying in the homes of friends and supporters while on the campaign trail, and keeping the budget low. This he did all the way up to his runs for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. When he ran for Governor, he had to change campaign mode, and use the big budget tactics so common throughout the country, raising and spending large sums of money.
During his career in Georgia, he brought about many changes, including (and probably most significantly) reforms to both Welfare and Education. His Welfare Reform in Georgia included helping people become responsible for their own destiny (this would be the teach a man to fish analogy) by providing education and job training to those who needed it and a helping hand to working parents by providing day care for their children. This was the cornerstone of the change. There was also a cap on how long a person could receive welfare benefits, which is critical to reforming the system, and eliminating the perpetual welfare recipient.
His education policy provided a system of scholarships to all Georgia children who maintained a "B" average to get a college education paid in full from the tax coffers (providing it is a State University). Miller believes that a good education is the foundation of a good economy (he's right on that score) and that as the job market continues to change and demand more and greater technical skills, an advance education is critical to a person's success. He also points out where the Federal Program fails as it provides a tax credit to the student (or parents, if they are footing the bill) as under that program the colleges are able to boost their tuition by the same amount as the tax credit, thus negating the whole point of the program. We'll set aside for the moment that I don't believe that the Government should be taxing its citizens to support these programs (however, I am opened minded), and look at how the two programs, Miller's for Georgia, and the Fed's, function. One is an entitlement, where you get the education paid for by the State, the other is a tax credit for whoever is paying the tuition costs. Tax credits are generally not a good formula for success, as it still locks out the children of low income families from attaining a higher education, the tools they need to rise up out of poverty.
Okay, as I stated, I am generally against taxing Americans to provide for the education of other people's children, since that is wealth redistribution (Socialism). Same is true with Welfare. However, if it is combined with strict Welfare Reform, designed to enable to help people to gain the skills they need to rise up out of poverty, as well as provide their offspring with the tools they need to avoid falling into a never ending cycle of poverty, then the costs will be worth it, and as time goes on, the costs to the tax payer will be reduced as the need for Welfare programs will decrease. Giving a Tax Credit does not do anything to help end the cycle of poverty in America. It's a "I want to feel good" measure for Congress to make people think that progress is being made to help those in need.
Miller also puts forth his "Lessons Learned by Seventy." These are beneficial to anybody and everybody. All of these lessons are good, and I especially liked #3, "Take what you want. Take it and pay for it. You can have whatever you want but it's going to cost you in some way- something. For every action there is a consequence-always! It may be a good consequence or a bad one, but it will come just as sure as night follows day." This resonates well with the philosophy of individual responsibility and accountability. Take responsibility for your actions and decisions.
Miller is in many ways a Conservative, and certainly a Democrat in the mold of Thomas Jefferson and (the real) JFK. The book is well worth reading, regardless of your political leanings, and is a brilliant memoir by a great American who has served his Country, and the State of Georgia, admirably.