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Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (and the Rest of Us) Paperback – Bargain Price, April 4, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From its provocative title, to its headshots of liberals that conservatives love to hate (Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore, Rosie O'Donnell), Charen signals right away that she will make no attempt to bridge a widening divide. She does make an attempt to add some empirical weight to the usual vitriol of liberal bashing, however. This polemic includes over 20 pages of footnotes to back up its various claims and offers a partial bibliography for those wanting to read more written by those who share Charen's political leanings. But even with the citations, Charen's argument (over six chapters) is simple in every sense: everything that has gone bad in American society is the fault of liberal policies and the countercultural movements of the 1960s, and everything that is getting better is the consequence of the leadership of a few (visionary) politicians on the right. Charen makes frequent use of quotes from a range of people in the "do-gooder" camp (although she seems oddly fixated on Moore, Jesse Jackson and the editorial page of the New York Times), but this is largely a cherry-picking exercise rather than a more thoughtful attempt to evaluate the core assumptions and values that guide liberal policy makers. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Charen’s new book . . . comes at the perfect time. . . . Her book is not only an easy read, but her wit and humor make it truly enjoyable."
—Betsy Hart, Chicago Sun-Times

"The indispensable Mona Charen devotes her new book . . . to depicting the severe price that America has paid for past acts of ill-considered liberal beneficence. The array of facts Charen assembles, from crime to welfare to education, is daunting and definitive. . . . To read this excellent book is to receive a keen insight into why America has moved so far in the conservative direction in recent years."
—National Review

"Following up on her bestselling Useful Idiots, Charen seeks to debunk liberal discourse and unearth the facts that never make the New York Times."
—Christopher Benson, The Weekly Standard

"Anyone who does not understand the utter cynicism of politics does not understand politics. An education on that subject can be found in Mona Charen’s incisive new book, Do- Gooders."
—Thomas Sowell, Capitalism Magazine

"Do-Gooders abounds in powerful data."
—Front Page Magazine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1595230173
  • ASIN: B000I0ROBK
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,749,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
While the bestseller lists usually contain one or more conservative books providing a survey of what is wrong with liberal thought or how liberals are undermining America, this book deserves to be set apart and taken much more seriously. Rather than a glib survey of the popular scene with sharp barbs tossed at the usual suspects, Mona Charen provides us with six powerful essays. She is a former White House speechwriter, and her gift for fashioning vibrant and passionate prose in the service of a well constructed argument shows in every page of this book.

These essays take on liberal articles of faith and leftist bureaucratic groupthink. Mrs. Charen demonstrates how the culture of non-judgment and soft punishment is connected to the great increase in crime for the past several decades. She shows how blind the establishment has been to why Giuliani's policies in governing New York actually had an impact.

She also illuminates how the race relations industry stifles progress and demagogues the issue of race in our country. Her discussion of the predictable (and predicted) debilitating influence the creation of "entitlements" has had on our country. To the point that one Supreme Court justice actually compared the entitlement of welfare to a medical license or a license to practice law. It is as if all jobs were sinecures and it was up to the government to allocate them according to their whim. You will just shake your head when see the foolishness of these policies laid out in this essay.

Of course, more than one person predicted that these policies along with other changes in our culture would lead to fewer strong families and the cost this would have on children.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Up until the Vietnam War. Democrats and Republicans quarreled incessantly over a wide range of issues, but one issue that they always agreed on was national security. That feeling of solidarity began to corrode as pro-Marxist thought began to infest America's colleges and mass media. Vietnam drew the battle lines. Iraq etched this line indelibly in the minds of the Left. Mona Charon sees this demarcation as an unbridgeable gulf that has led to a dissolution of much of the promise that used to be called, in pre-politically correct days, as the American Dream of true hope and sustained progress. In USEFUL IDIOTS, Charon takes the Left to task as she notes how liberals have ruined America in foreign affairs and now in DO-GOODERS, she does much the same as she focuses on how liberals have exacerbated a wide spectrum of domestic calamities ranging from urban crime to welfare abuse to homelessness and finally to the collapse of our educational system.

Charon does not intend DO-GOODERS to be an even handed book. She intends it as a polemic against a mindset that places the rights and welfare of the unworthy individual against those of society at large. Charon notes how the Left has taken the traditional credo of America--the rights of the individual must be respected by the collective mass--and have transformed it into the rights of the individual must always supercede the rights of the many. She notes that the America of 2005 is one that would hardly be recognizable to the traditional Democrats of JFK, Hubert Humphrey, and Scoop Jackson. The police are hamstrung in their efforts to control crime. Welfare is seen as a socialist right rather than as what had once been viewed as a somewhat repugnant alternative to poverty by an earlier generation.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By F. A. C. Naaijkens on October 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Original socialists (sic) wanted to emancipate the honest workman. Undereducated, he was not well equipped to improve this position or negotioate.

At least in Europe, there was some success... between 1880 and 1920! They got -somewhat- liberated.

Ever since, instead of freeing people, the socialist wanted to develop a nanny state, where Mother Knows Best(tm). And as the State grew, freedom deminished.

It's pretty amazing so many people still fall for the trap of the Do-gooders, who lead people to believe they can get all kinds of freebies on OTHER man's wallet.

Yet the only thing they achieve, is distributing money OUT of the wallet of average people, making them more dependent, and less able to lead their own lives, and make ends meet.

Now everybody turns to the state for answers. Most money is however wasted to endless bureaycracy, not end-goals.

Do-gooders very eloquently shows how this develops, the attitudes, reactions of people. Real world examples. I just hope many people read this. Once you do, not only do people immediately recognise them to be true, they might see the emerging trend.

I don't remember who said this: "Knowledge is favourable to liberty. Educate the people and they will apply the remedy."

This is another startingpoint.. A good one, too.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on January 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If left-liberals really have such good intentions, then how come none of their proposed solutions ever work?

Mona Charen says, in effect, that it's for two reasons:

(1) Such liberals evaluate their efforts by intention rather than by results. They're more interested in their own moral opinion of themselves than they are in the actual well-being of the victims of their misguided 'beneficence'.

(2) Their intentions aren't all that great anyway. Self-reliance and self-responsibility are a sound and reliable moral foundation for a stable social order; compassion and soft-heartedness are not.

In order to substantiate these claims, Charen sorts through some thirty years' worth of 'social programs' drummed up by Sargent Shriver's Bleeding Hearts Club Band -- welfare, affirmative action, programs to deal with mental illness and homelessness, and so forth -- and points out just where and how they have failed. There isn't really any question that they _have_ failed, but if you require persuading on that point, Charen will oblige you.

(She also clears up lots of mysteries in the left-liberal worldview. You may have wondered, for example, why people who have never had a good word to say about traditional families suddenly start slobbering about 'family preservation' when the subject of adoption comes up. It turns out that, in this context, by 'families' they mean 'crack-addicted single mothers and their boyfriends'.)

I've got minor issues here and there. For example, I think there's some overkill in the blame-it-all-on-the-hippies department and some occasional silliness about the 'counterculture'.
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