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Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution Paperback – November 10, 2011


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Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution + Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, 25th Anniversary Edition (Independent Studies in Political Economy)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC (November 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1457506580
  • ISBN-13: 978-1457506581
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,377,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

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43 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Edward C. Royce on March 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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44 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Terry S on January 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.

Terry Sarigumba, Ph. D.
Brunswick, Georgia
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42 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Mark Cassell on December 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By George H. Blackford on March 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In reading the comments on the one star reviews of this book I immediately ran across the assertion by D. Barbieri that:

"Amy refuses to answer basic ethical questions like, ""is it okay to force people to pay for things they don't want, don't need, never asked for and/or are morally opposed to?"" with a straight answer of ""yes"" or ""no;"" instead he waffles around seeking to support a hideous idea: that one group of people has the right to dominate another by force."

My initial reaction to this assertion was: Right on D. Barbieri!! Why should criminals be taxed to support the police or pacifists be taxed to support the military or people who don't believe in education or public works be taxed to support public education, build public roads and highways, and maintain public parks they will never use?

What right does the majority have to force taxes on those who "don't want, don't need, never asked for and/or are morally opposed to" the police and the military and public education or public roads and highways and parks? If we could just get rid of the government we would all be free to hire our own police and create our own militaries and our own schools and roads and highways and parks, and we wouldn't have to worry about any one group of people dominating another by force.

Lord knows that only governments use force. It's not as if free individuals or groups of free individuals ever use force to take what they want in the absence of government to do their bidding! It's not as if we actually need the police to keep the peace and the government to protect our rights from marauding bands of criminals! If we could just get rid of government there would never be the use of force by one group against another in our society.
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