The Clinton-Gore years have been a catastrophe for individual liberty, writes James Bovard in this libertarian broadside:
Clinton was the Nanny State champion incarnate--the person who taught tens of millions of Americans to look to government for relief from every irritation of daily life--from child safety car seats to unpasteurized cider to leaky basements. Clinton's perennial message was that people should trust political action far more than the voluntary efforts of individuals to improve their own lives.
Bovard, a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal
, occasionally goes overboard--"Clinton sees government revenue as the source of all progress and all justice" and "Clinton exploited and expanded the dictatorial potential of the U.S. presidency." Yet he expertly marshals evidence to support his thesis that "no aspect of Americans' lives was too arcane for federal intervention" during the Clinton years. He notes that the average two-earner family's total tax burden rose three times faster than inflation, that the IRS has collected tens of billions of dollars in wrongful penalties and taxes not owed, and that the Justice Department has seized more than $600 million in private property, even though "the vast majority of people whose property is seized by federal agents are never formally charged with a crime." Bovard also takes extended looks at AmeriCorps, affirmative action, the war on drugs, agriculture policy, Waco, and more--and at every turn he sees an unmitigated calamity. His chapter on disaster relief is especially good, showing how the Federal Emergency Management Agency is "determined to spend tax dollars to rescue citizens, regardless of how irresponsible or negligent they have been and regardless of whether they have requested help." Bovard is an upscale, libertarian version of bestselling author Martin L. Gross, and Feeling Your Pain
will appeal to readers interested in muckraking accounts of the welfare state and its blunders. --John J. Miller
From Library Journal
Despite Bill Clinton's claim that the era of big government is over, Bovard (Freedom in Chains) portrays the President's terms in office as a nightmarish progression of unconstitutional federal intrusion into the individual rights of citizens. Bovard, a libertarian who believes that little government is the best government, calls for the dismantling of federal agencies, most notably the IRS, the FBI, and HUD. He convincingly shows how poorly planned and executed government responses contributed to the tragedies of Ruby Ridge in 1992 and Waco the following year, but he is silent about how the anti-government beliefs of Timothy McVeigh led to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In addition to President Clinton, Bovard holds special contempt for Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI director Louis Freeh. The author relies on the assumption that charity and the inherent good will of people will provide an adequate safety net for the poor in the absence of federal programs. Although Bovard's views and remedies will trouble moderates, he documents in exacting detail numerous examples of government gone mad. This controversial work gives the reader much to ponder. Recommended for public libraries.DKarl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
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