John Rennie Short, Public Policy, Publishes “Stress Testing the USA”

Stress Testing the USA: Public Policy and Reaction to Disaster Events, a new book by professor of public policy John Rennie Short, arrives in stores tomorrow!

Stress testing is a procedure, common to fields from medicine to engineering, that is used to reveal a system’s weaknesses. In his new book, Short applies this concept to analyzing four serious traumas the United States experienced at the start of the 21st century: the invasion of Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, the financial meltdown, and the BP oil spill.

In Stress Testing the USA (Palgrave MacMillan), Short identifies specific structural flaws with the potential to fracture our nation: a large, active military that promotes a state of permanent war; an aging physical infrastructure with bridges and roads that receive failing grades; financial and corporate deregulation; and a blind acceptance of institutions’ increasingly risky behavior.

Identifying these systemic problems clarifies a broader concern for Short: our tendency to sideline unpopular perspectives or more subtle voices that might alert us to possible threats. “For every event there was a small group of people who new exactly what was happening,” says Short, “we just didn’t listen to them. So the point of the book is we should be more careful and more attentive to alternative, dissident voices.”

His book website notes, “Illuminating and relevant, Stress Testing the USA is a guide to what ails the United States and what needs to be done to fix it that proves essential to any scholar of public policy, current affairs, or disaster management.”