In his Common Sense to the Nth Degree, Roger Shuman proposes solutions to “some basic problems” which, he feels, “we either cannot recognize…or feel powerless to do anything about.” This approach neatly references the original Common Sense wherein Thomas Paine declares that “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right….”
With the weight of this historical document behind him, Shuman dives into his own polemic concerning such topics as employment, gun control, government debt, voting, racism, and the death penalty.
Shuman gives considerable space to education, arguing among other things, that schools should be structured around subject blocks, rather than grade levels. “There would be no grades,” he states, “only block completions. When all the blocks are successfully completed, the students will receive a high school diploma.” Regarding illegal immigration, he recommends building a wall from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas. Illegal immigrants already in the U.S. would be granted immediate citizenship.
The author supports his arguments with observations, experience and “gut feelings.” Referring to the majority, he indicates, is the closest he “will come to entering the scientific arena.” Because the author eschews traditional means of proof like those found in studies or statistics, readers are left with a “take it or leave it” choice when Shuman makes statements like “China is the key player in financing our federal deficit,” or “Sex offenders need a strong support system.” This lack of due research diligence, severely impedes Shuman’s power to persuade. Shuman also has an odd habit of hyphenating multisyllabic words, such as “con-sider” and “under-standing.”
Although some of Shuman’s ideas are worth considering, a common sense approach to today’s issues doesn’t go as far as it would have in 1776. Current problems are too complex and multifarious to be defined and solved without research and support. As a result, this book is likely to have limited appeal.
Also available as an ebook.