Pastor Brad Highum, Abiding Love Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas writes:
Drawing his title from the infamous quote of billionaire John D. Rockefeller, T. Carlos Anderson has delivered a thorough-going essay and critique of the slow demise of egalitarianism and altruism amidst the modern clamor for gain at any cost.
Just A Little Bit More charts the dislocation of the “common good” from the center of American political aspirations and economic enterprise, and its replacement by cultic individualism and a more-is-better mindset in what is widely viewed as a zero-sum game.
This is not a light read, nor should it be; Anderson’s research captures depth and breadth. He tracks the emerging culture of excess from its roots in expansionism, industrial revolution, and the rise of the robber barons, to its contemporary expressions and toxic effect. From Mark Twain’s scathing commentary on the notorious Boss Tweed – “Who is God? Money is God. Gold greenbacks and stock … father, son and holy ghost” – to the modern Geckoism: “Greed is good.”
Though an ordained Protestant minister, Anderson wisely has navigated along a secular/pragmatic line, largely resisting the obvious temptations to inveigh from Biblical principle. Instead, he has starkly exposed the “true religion” of the modern age: “commerce, materialism and consumerism.”
Anderson is neither zealot nor ideologue. He recognizes the vital nature of market economics to create livelihood and to foster opportunity, even well-being. But he convincingly defends the essential countervailing priority of communal good to balance self-interest when taken to the extreme of unbridled greed at the expense of others and the natural world.
Just A Little Bit More answers the radical polarization of wealth and want – in America and around the world – with a prescription for true economic democracy: open markets tempered by judicious regulation; genuine equality of opportunity coupled with a personal ethic of enough-ness and a commitment to well-being for all.
Michelle Brinkman, Dimebox, Texas writes:
Spot on in identifying why the disparity between elite and the rest of us exists. Time to examine our personal behaviors and accept the consequences, if not to us individually, then to the majority of the working class, their children and grandchildren, and to the ecology of this world.
Sam Pizzigati, editor of the Too Much newsletter of the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, DC, and author of The Rich Don’t Always Win, writes:
John D. Rockefeller, the story goes, once had someone ask him, “How much is enough?”
“Just a little bit more,” old John D. replied over a century ago.
The pursuit of that “little bit more,” T. Carlos Anderson argues in this sweeping new look at our unequal world, has essentially become America’s “bread-and-butter religion.” An unholy trinity of commerce, materialism, and consumption is piercing our souls and adulterating our spirits.
Anderson, a Protestant minister in Texas and Latin America for over 20 years, comes at inequality as someone who cares deeply about our spiritual side. But his book slides easily between the spiritual and secular worlds, as comfortable drawing insights from anthropology as Scripture.
Anderson also writes engagingly. He dots Just a Little Bit More with fascinating asides on everything from the original egalitarian provenance of the retail price-tag in the 1870s to the introduction of luxury suites in Texas Stadium in the 1970s, a symbolic cultural moment when our “privileged elite began to separate” from the rest of us.
Anderson, above all, writes with a purpose. He’s hoping to help Americans understand that an egalitarian ideal — the vision of “a society free from great disparities in wealth among its citizens” — helped create the United States. We need that ideal, Anderson helps us see, now more than ever.
Pastor Kathy Haueisen, author of A Ready Hope and 40 Day Journey with Kathleen Norris, writes:
A masterpiece . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to live in a world with a more equitable distribution of the world’s assets and resources. It ought to be required reading for every church leader.
Dan Ingram, Austin, Texas writes:
I just had the opportunity to read JALBM. It was great to see all the context that was provided–historical and current–and the analogies that helped underscore the issues in a very balanced view. Great read, and certainly thought-provoking.
Pastor Norb Firnhaber of Austin, Texas writes:
Just a Little Bit More is a must read. With measured reflection and careful documentation, this pastor-economist-writer presents material that calls for continued and serious conversation. It’s an old story with a contemporary focus: greed and accumulation versus moderation and the common good. Anderson’s presentation of the culture’s understanding of excess being a kind of divine beneficence for the fortunate few
is laid out in persuasive, even haunting, terms. This is not a cursory read. It is worthy of sober reflection.
Jack Seifert of Seattle, Washington writes:
When is enough enough? It’s a question asked in many circles and circumstances. As concerns low prices at WalMart, CEO compensation, or our insatiable desire for fat, sugar, and salt, there really never is an end point, is there?
In Just a Little Bit More, writer T. Carlos Anderson does his homework, delivering a well documented review of economics and capitalism in the US, painting a history of excesses. Sometimes these excesses promote the common good – the vast opportunities for immigrants on the American frontier. Sometimes those same immigrants are virtual slaves enriching the railroad barons.
History lessons can often be infuriating, exposing the injustices of the past, and this one certainly is infuriating. But there is an alternative: Economic Democracy. Much in the way ‘green’ companies talk about the ‘triple bottom line’ – making a profit, benefiting workers, and benefiting the environment – the end of the book describes Economic Democracy governed by shared power rather than concentrated power. This is where we need more lessons.
With examples from current events, nature, and his own life, Anderson makes this debate real, practical and intelligent. For any student of economics, politics, and/or the rich/poor divide, this is a must read.
Pastor Steve Herzberg, Our Savior Lutheran Church, McAllen, Texas writes:
At a time of increasing greed once again, T. Carlos Anderson sounds the alarm of the need to return to sustainable development through the common good. He takes us through recent history to show how we’ve repeated this pattern over and over of allowing individuality to triumph over community. Anderson, in the tradition of prophets before, calls America back to its egalitarian roots — the values that made it stand out from other nations in history. May his positive expectations for change repeat themselves again in our country’s and world’s history.
Bishop Mike Rinehart of the Gulf coast Synod (ELCA) posted a review of Just a Little Bit More on August 7.
Nancy Snell of Mt. Prospect, Illinois writes:
It was a breath of fresh air for me to find in one book mantras I had been chanting for a very long time . . . the author has done extensive research, spells out our dilemma, and offers his views of how to work our way to a healthier society.
John D. Rockefeller’s answer to the question “How much is enough?” reportedly was “Just a little bit more.” A seemingly simple question with a simple answer is not so simple at all. T. Carlos (Tim) Anderson, author of Just a Little Bit More, contends that our “god of excess” prevents us from knowing when enough is enough, an extremely complex issue indeed.
Anderson provides a comprehensive, thoughtful, well-researched study of how our present day American culture has developed. In an age when politicians are bought more than elected, when unchecked capitalism is deepening the divide between the rich and the poor, when greed and self-interest are outpacing our concern for our neighbors and the common good, Anderson makes a case for egalitarianism as the centering point on the pendulum.
Just a Little Bit More left me with many thoughts to ponder. How can we distinguish between needs and wants when the line between them has become so blurred? Having more and better things doesn’t bring deeper meaning to our lives, so why do we keep searching in the stores? Recognizing that we are greedy by nature, will that greed cause our demise? How can we manage our greed? Anderson’s book provides a solid foundation for discussion. He proposes sustained development, not unlimited growth, as our future’s solution. It would be energizing, productive even, to engage in group discussions of so many thoughts to ponder in search of paths leading toward that sustained development goal. A “must read” for those who love our country, are concerned about the social, political, and economic trajectories we are on, and long for change.
Kevin Byckovski of Austin, Texas writes:
A very well researched and balanced perspective. T. Carlos Anderson effectively weaves historical philosophies and behaviors into a well written, easy to read narrative on how we have been addicted to excess and its consequences.
Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good is available at the Blue Ocotillo Publishing website. Ebook available on Amazon.