Return to First Principles
Budd J. Hallberg
Reviewed by Ron Standerfer for Reader Views (02/10)
As I write these words, President Obama is pleading for across-the-aisle cooperation between Democrats and Republicans to salvage the health care bill; congressional approval ratings are at a historic low; and Sarah Palin was the keynote speaker at the first ever National Tea Party convention. Meanwhile, our country is staggering under the load of fighting two wars simultaneously, suffering from the worst recession since the great depression, enduring an employment rate at or above ten percent, and is facing a national debt unprecedented in magnitude. And the American people? They are trapped in the center of this perfect storm of socio-economic events and are desperately seeking answers; something to hold on to and to give them hope that things will get better. Quite frankly, I doubt if they care if those answers come from the left, right, center, or all of the above. Budd J. Hallberg, a former investment banker, retired civil servant, and teacher of finance in the MBA program at Mount Saint Mary’s University, has some answers to our dilemma which is outlined in his new book, “Return to First Principles.” They may not be the answers Americans are looking for, but his book deserves to be read.
To begin with, Hallberg believes that we are on the brink of social, economic, and political collapse; that the nation’s economy is in shambles and much of the country’s government is corrupt. His solution? We need to return to the First Principles upon which are country was founded. What are these principles? There are eleven of them in all, and they include such principles as: the constitution must be maintained; the preservation of the union; safeguard the liberty of each individual; protection of every citizen’s private property; and so on. These ideas have been around since the founding fathers and have served us well.
Mr. Hallberg’s writing style reflects his background as a former Army officer. Chapter by chapter he marches resolutely through each page like a young platoon leader in a mine field who knows he’s going to be attacked at any moment. For covering fire, he relies on copious footnotes at the bottom of each page and the big artillery can be found at the end of the book where there are not one, but eight appendices. Personally, it bothers me not at all that there are eight appendices and in fact, I found a lot of interesting reading while browsing through them. How many people can say that they have read Washington’s farewell address; or Jefferson’s inaugural address for that matter? I certainly could not say that — until now.
Mr. Hallberg is convinced that our nation is on a Marxist-Socialist path to tyranny. I don’t particularly agree with that. Based on the principle of Occam’s razor, which among other things, asserts that the simplest or most obvious explanation of several competing ones is the one that should be preferred until it is proven wrong; my money is on the greed and avarice that has been an integral part of our society for many years. The blame starts at the top, with the fiscally irresponsible politicians in Washington and high flying, risk taking players on Wall Street; and works its way down to the man next door who continuously borrowed more money than he could ever repay in order to make a killing in real estate. As the saying goes, “we are where we went!”
I started this review by saying that the American people are looking for answers and there are precious few forthcoming from Washington. “Return to First Principles” by Budd J. Hallberg is filled with answers. They may not be the answers you are looking for, but he should be applauded for trying. Read the book and make up your own mind. That’s what the First Amendment is all about, is it not?