Douglas J. Amy is Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. He is the author of a number of books, including "Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution." Another of his books, "Real Choices/New Voices: How Proportional Representation Elections Could Revitalize American Democracy," won the George H. Hallett Award from the American Political Science Association.
Douglas Amy's book is essential reading for anyone seriously concerned about the future of this country. In an era where vitriolic denunciations of government have entered the mainstream and acquired a taken-for-granted status, Amy's forceful defense of government is a breath of fresh air.
He takes the unusual approach of looking closely at what government actually does, reminding us of the many, many ways in which each of us--on a daily basis--benefit from and depend on government. He shows, among other things, how government protects our rights and safety as workers and consumers; how it promotes home ownership, retirement security, infrastructure development, educational advancement, equality of opportunity, and economic growth; how it combats poverty, discrimination, disease, air and water pollution, and other social problems; and how it compensates for the persistent and nowadays all-too obvious failures of the market. It is easy to complain about government, but the reality is this: if anti-government forces continue to get their way, the lives of most Americans will become immeasurably worse.
In defending government, Amy is not saying that everything government does it does well, and he certainly believes there is a great deal of room for improvement. But the problem with government is not government itself, and the problem is not what conservative critics say it is--that government is the natural enemy of freedom, or that government bureaucracy is inevitably inefficient and wasteful, or that Americans are overtaxed.Read more ›
Prof. Amy's book "Government Is Good" is really good. It is the best, the most thorough and complete progressive rationalization for government. I say this even after I have read Al Franken, Michael Moore, Bill Press, John Perkins, Naomi Klein, Greg Palast and several others. This is a must reading for progressives to sustain their ideological belief and for conservatives who often display silliness and ridiculous errors when attacking government. It's a must reading for all Americans and non Americans alike. Dr. Amy inspired in me the following observation. Extreme conservatives attack socialism by equating it to the way it was applied by failed totalitarian regimes like USSR, East Germany and several Eastern European countries. Conservatives need to realize that if socialism is used with capitalism, the hybrid system produces prosperous nations and contented people in them. Examples are England, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and Canada. Capitalism is good but it is not perfect, from it. The great depression of 1933 was mainly a result of capitalism way out of control. Same reason for the great recession of 2008. FDR used socialistic approach to enable the US to recover from the depression and lead on the path of prosperity and demonstrate that the US is one of the most effective practitioners of capitalism under the auspices of free enterprise. With his socialistic approach, FDR made capitalism in the US stronger,more productive and more prosperous. Kudos to Dr. Amy.
It's difficult to believe that, in the wake of the financial crisis, it's necessary to make the case for government. The egregious behavior of Wall Street firms set the our country's economy on fire while conservatives and libertarians watched unable to understand how private actors and markets could bring down the largest and most powerful economy in the world. The mindless anti-government fervor that began in the 1980s crescendoed under George W. Bush and has continued even under President Obama. We've long since given up on the notion of improving government and moved on to just getting rid of government.
Fortunately, Doug Amy has published this terrific book that underscores the need for government, points to numerous ways we're better off as a result of government, and offers real life examples for how we can improve government.
The book parallels Amy's popular [...]. And, like the website, the book is readable, engaging, and easy to understand. There's no propaganda or mindless ideology. Just a strong case for why government is crucial for our daily lives.
Actually, my book hasn't arrived yet, but as I proof-read the web site, I'm pretty familiar with the content. My introduction was "A Day in Your Life With Government" - that alone prompted me to add my vote that the site become a book, and to e-mail Professor Amy in gratitude. Reading the site was like taking a course from a favorite college professor, only better - a course that would find us with a much more informed electorate were it a mandatory one. I'm thrilled to see this book launch, and excited at the number of people who will have the opportunity to expand their understanding of and appreciation for our government.
While many things can be improved and others now suffer from seemingly irreversible decades of neglect, Professor Amy gives me hope that there are many more like him who will share his web site and book to help stop the insanity of blaming government versus the people who mess/messed with it.