Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (2016)
Article first published as Interview: Buck Marshall, Author of ‘SWIFT Act: Swift Action for Permanent Recovery’on Blogcritics.
Buck Marshall taught political science for five years and received his doctorate from Tulane in 1992. After 20 years in the private sector, his reaction to the Occupy Wall Street movement was to write a series of books and establish the non-profit SWIFT Act Alliance.
With the U.S. economy in crisis, an unprecedented number of voters are rejecting the status quo. Millions of people realize we can no longer trust the establishment to manage the economy. That means the public will need greater understanding of economic fundamentals to support demands for meaningful reform. Toward that end, SWIFT Act proposals are intended as a blueprint for essential aspects of reform we need for long-term recovery.
Sheri: Welcome Buck, and thank you for being here today! Why don’t you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself?
Buck: Thank you, Sheri. I’m a guy with an academic background, who decided the most important thing I could do is write a book on the economy that anybody can read. My dad was a contractor, and I work in a construction related industry. Only about 20% of voters have college degrees. I want to reach a lot more people than that, and that’s what I’m about.
Sheri: What is SWIFT Act: Swift Action for Permanent Recovery about?
Buck: First, the book gives you a 15-page overview of what’s wrong with the economy. The rest of the book covers five sets of proposals that are fundamental to long-term recovery. These are Smart Growth, Wage Standards, Industrial Policy,Financial Reform, and Trade and Tax Reform. The book is not partisan. Economic problems were created through bipartisan consensus, which will only be overcome through a bipartisan alliance for reform.
Sheri: What was your inspiration for writing this book?
Buck: I’d been talking about the project for 15 years! Then in 2011, I was watching coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I felt like I just couldn’t wait any longer. I quit my job on short notice and spent a year writing before I ran out of money and had to go back to work.
The inspiration was the intensity and commitment I saw in people, but also the coverage and analysis that kept repeating how hard the financial crisis was to understand, and that in essence the protesters didn’t really have a coherent position on what they wanted.
For me this is a terrible message for people to hear. Imagine that you’ve been cheated playing in a card game. It would take a lot of time and effort to explain the mechanics and the process of how you were cheated. But how important is that? What matters is just that you know you were cheated.
It’s unfortunate that people equate “problems with the economy” with “derivatives caused a financial crisis on Wall Street.” “The economy” itself is an intimidating subject. Then add to that the rapid fire speak we all hear on TV about derivatives, and the reaction is people’s eyes glaze over and they just want to turn it off.
So the inspiration was my wanting to give people a handle on what has happened, and tell them not to be intimidated by complexity, because the complicated parts are actually the least important aspects of the story.
Sheri: What was your biggest challenge in writing SWIFT Act: Swift Action for Permanent Recovery?
Buck: The idea I had from the beginning was to talk to the reader in plain English. I’ve read so-called “airport books” by economists that are supposedly written for the general reader. In my experience, those kinds of books for most people aren’t really readable.
So what I wanted was something that anybody can read. I can’t tell you how hard it was to learn how to write the way this book (and the others in the series) is written. I think when you write the same way you talk, that’s when you get the point across.
This style of writing (single sentence paragraphs) was by far the biggest challenge I had. There are plenty of books out there about the economy. But if you’re looking for something you can read, I think you should try mine!
Sheri: What is it you hope readers take away from your book?
Buck: You can understand what’s wrong with the economy, and you have the power to change it!
Sheri: How can people get involved?
Buck: Visit the website at swiftact.org, and sign the petition to support SWIFT Act legislation.
I think people realize it isn’t enough to get worked up and vote every four years. The limited political choices we’ve been offered are the problem, because bipartisan consensus in Washington has created the economic mess we’re all living with.
If enough people sign the SWIFT Act petition, politicians will be forced to tell the public whether and to what extent they agree with SWIFT Act proposals. That means people get to support a platform that wasn’t written by lobbyists and Wall Street contributors to political campaigns.
Sheri: What can you tell us about your self-publishing experience?
Buck: This is my first experience. For book sales I’ve pledged 20% of proceeds to the non-profit. At the same time, the book is only $10 on Amazon (less from some outlets), and I couldn’t sell it that cheaply with a publisher. I want people to be able to buy something for $10 that they can read on the subway.
Sheri: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, about writing, or life in general?
Buck: Never give up. My books are published because I spent 20 years never giving up.
Sheri: Do you have any advice for aspiring indie authors?
Buck: Only that they should realize they can do it. Aside from writing the book, I hired a designer for the cover. With CreateSpace, everything else is explained on their site, and you can make revisions even after your book is published.
Sheri: What do you like to do in your free time?
Buck: I have a video on YouTube now, which is all of 15 minutes and I think can be really helpful as an introduction. The link on swiftact.org is under “podcasts,” which is a drop-down under the Books tab.
Sheri: So, what’s next? Do you have another project in the works?
Buck: I’m going to record a video speech, probably 30 minutes long, that will be something of a campaign stump speech. I’m not running for office, but I am promoting SWIFT Act and want people to get involved by signing the petition.
Sheri: Do you have a website or blog (or both) where readers can learn more about you and SWIFT Act: Swift Action for Permanent Recovery?
Buck: The website is swiftact.org. A drop-down under the Contact Us tab is “FAQ,” which gives a comprehensive overview of SWIFT Act proposals and why I wrote the book. I’m also working on adding a section where people can log in with twitter or Facebook and leave comments. That feature and SWIFT Act products (T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs) should be available in the next few months.
Sheri: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers today?
Buck: There are two things I believe that define me at my very core. Knowledge is power; Only the powerless are truly innocent. We all buy clothes that are made with child labor. How many of us can truly say that we didn’t know that? What’s amazing is that there’s a win-win solution, because policies that would stop it would create millions of jobs in this country and benefit American consumers.
I will leave you with a quote I have on the letterhead for SWIFT Act Alliance.
Our individual actions are collective; Our collective actions are cumulative.
Sheri: Buck, thank you so much for joining us! I really enjoyed getting to know more about you, your cause, and your book: SWIFT Act: Swift Action for Permanent Recovery. I wish you much success in your endeavor!
Buck: Thank you.