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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can Cause Discomfort, But This Book MATTERS
I was given this book as a gift, along with Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies and to my great surprise, being an estranged moderate Reagan Republican, I found that I am much more of a Libertarian than I realized, and this author, although he causes me great discomfort in some areas (such as privatizing Social Security), he makes complete...
Published on May 17, 2008 by Robert David STEELE Vivas

9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute, Total Nonsense!!!
To listen to Grover Norquist's ravings one would think we should have no government at all and let the corporations run the country! "Hey Grover...It's called the United STATES of America...NOT the United Corporations of America!" If government is too small, then the corporations can run over the government because the government won't be powerful enough to stop the...
Published on November 27, 2011 by GHIGGS

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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can Cause Discomfort, But This Book MATTERS, May 17, 2008
I was given this book as a gift, along with Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies and to my great surprise, being an estranged moderate Reagan Republican, I found that I am much more of a Libertarian than I realized, and this author, although he causes me great discomfort in some areas (such as privatizing Social Security), he makes complete sense. I learn he has been voted one of the 50 most powerful people in DC by GQ (2007) and I believe it. Senator McCain has better listen this time around. I urge all who are enthused with Senator Obama to read Obama - The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate. Senator Obama is NOT transparent and I consider his top foreign policy advisors to be dangerous--Dr. Strangelove (Brzezinski) has one last war with Russia left in him, and seriiousl believes he can confront the Chinese in Africa--this is lunacy (search for my Memorandum online <Chinese Irregular Warfare>.

The book lacks an index. This is a HUGE MISTAKE on the part of the publisher because there are too many important ideas in this book. The publisher should create and post online an index to this book. The publisher can also be criticized for failing to provide Library of Congress cataloguing information. This is a REFERENCE work. The author should consider holding the publisher accountable for such fundamental incompetencies that detract from the book's lasting value.

The five core reforms that he builds up to are:

1) Portable pensions

2) Competitive health care

3) Educational choice including home schooling

4) Outsourcing of all government functions possible

5) Transparency (see not only Groundswell, but also Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations)

The author posits a stark choice between the Leave Us Alone movement, that appears to be growing daily (and included 27 secessionist movements that meet annually at a conference organized by Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale, and what he calls the Takings Group, the tax and spend elected officials both Republican and Democratic.

This is a serious reference work with an even mix of books, articles, and online citations.

There are some areas where the author could benefit from knowledge that is not yet mainstream--for example, we can blow away the Medicare unfunded obligations by negotiating prices that are 1% (ONE percent) of what we foolishly pay now, and as a recent PriceWaterHouseCooopers study documented so well, also eliminating the 50% of the medical professional that is waste, including (the author does address this--the tort lawyers like Senator John Edwards who make millions putting good doctors out of business so bad doctors can do more elective operations).

On balance--and this was my first exposure to this individual--I put the book down thinking to myself that this author deserves his reputation, and that he combines a very powerful intellect with an equally powerful moral force.

Other books I recommend:
The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Inspire and Define Our Nation
The Revolution: A Manifesto
Don't Start the Revolution Without Me!
Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender
Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America
The Vermont Manifesto
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37 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, March 27, 2008
RICHARD B. DONDES (East Brunswick, NJ) - See all my reviews
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Excellent book. The Mr. Norquist makes a compelling case the the People of the United States will soon choose the "Leave Us Alone" group (Republicans) or the "Takings" group (democrats) - and there will be no going back after that choice is made. He opens up one's eyes to the fact that our individual liberties and money are at peril and we had better choose wisely.

Well written and well researched.
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20 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous book that I hope you read and consider seriously., May 17, 2008
What a fabulous book! If I disagree with Norquist on anything it is his rough dismissal of social conservative issues towards the end of the book. However, I understand his emphasis on economic issues and their rough correlation with social conservative issues. That is, if you look at all economic conservatives in the Republican party, they will also include almost all of the social conservatives and some of those who are more liberal on social issues. So, we get more voters to help us win our issues with economics. This ignores the reality that for social conservatives, some issues are so vital that sitting home or creating a new party would be better alternatives than letting them slip out of the public debate.

In any case, that is a minor part of this very helpful and interesting book. Norquist lays out his case quite well. He divides the 21 chapters of the book into five parts and build his case line by line and layer upon layer. Part I discusses what he calls the two competing coalitions - the "Leave Us Alone Coalition" and the "Takings Coalition". He carefully avoids the familiar, but too ideologically freighted terms of left-right, or socialist-capitalist. He describes what each of the coalitions is after and what the methods are. You will recognize them right away and notice that one of them uses the Republican Part and the other the Democrat Party. However, it would be a real mistake to associate the parties as being identical with the coalitions. Parties change their issues in a struggle to win, coalitions fight for their purposes and to make their ideas important enough to win elections and hence gain the support of a party.

Part II is covers one hundred pages in eleven chapters examining the political trends for the future. Norquist lays out an argument that shows an advantage for the Leave Us Alone Coalition. More people have their retirement money invested in businesses and are therefore more connected to more pro-business and lower tax policies. He also shows the decline of labor unions (except in the powerful government based and education based unions) as a decline of ready made funds and workers for The Takings Coalition. The Card Check proposal is a dangerous anti-democratic method for the Unions to re-gain membership and power. It should be opposed. The birthrates of the two coalitions are quite different. The Leave Us Alone folks have more kids than the Takings people. The trend is therefore in favor of one with increasing numbers, unless the Takings people can convert them (misusing our schools and colleges as recruitment and indoctrination centers - hence the rise in home schooling). A trend against the Leave Us Alone group is the reduction in the numbers of hunters. However, the rise in gun ownership and right to carry states compensates somewhat.

One way to look at the differences between the groups is whether you are comfortable with America creating its own future and going its own way or whether you think that becoming more like Europe is a better approach for the future. As more and more people come to work for the government (and receive, on average, higher pay and greater benefits than those being taxed to pay for them), the Takings Coalition has a growing built in support group. Not only those working for the government, but those who depend on the government for their business, their contracts, and their industries are more likely to support the Takings folks. Norquist also talks about the trends in religious groups. Those that are largely conservative in outlook continue to grow while those who are more liberal in their religious outlook tend to be shrinking. The author also shows us how the new media has diminished the power of what used to be the big 3 networks and the major newspapers.

Part III talks about "The Battleground"

Business is always seen as conservative, but it isn't so. Yes, some businesses are strictly conservative and capitalistic. However, others seek government support to protect their own revenues and to shut out competition. These are hardly conservative and are really in the camp of the Takings Coalition. The third group seeks to influence the government by buying access and paying what amounts to protection money to keep the Takings people off there back as much as possible. One evidence of the this trend is how much governments pay to the party in power and how much they give to the party out of power. Business does tend to favor party representing the Leave Us Alone policies, however, even the Takings folks get more donations from business when they hold the majority in a legislative body.

I like the way Norquist talks about gypsies in terms of those whom you will not talk to because you think they won't vote for you. Well, if you won't talk to them they surely won't vote for you! The Republicans certainly have this problem with the Black vote and to a lesser extent with the Hispanic vote. Norquist provides some reasons the GOP should try to win a bigger share of those votes and how to go about doing it.

Norquist believes that if the GOP were smarter and more dedicated to actually winning and governing they should be able to get beyond a 60 vote veto proof majority. If the Leave Us Along Coalition could get a majority in the house and this veto proof super-majority in the Senate, it should be able to have its way regardless of the President and the occupant of the White House would then become less important. Nice thoughts. We shall see. He also talks about the importance of the individual states and getting control of as many of the legislatures as possible. Those that have lowered taxes and governed as Leave Us Alone governments have out competed the Takings oriented states. Eventually, this will become so apparent and so undeniable, that it might even spread more compellingly to the national government.

Part IV talks about why Republicans should never ever raise taxes under any circumstances. Norquist exposes the lies of both parties when they talk about the problem of deficits, but for opposite reasons. He provides a list of important tax reforms and how to go about achieving them. The eventual goal is to give the government only one bite at our money, when we earn it, and then leave us alone. I like it.

Part V discusses the two most important issues: actually, really, and honestly controlling spending. He notes that this cannot be done until after we get the discipline to not raise taxes. Then he proposes five great reforms. 1) Make all pensions individually owned and portable (including government employee pensions and social security). 2) Make health insurance individually owned and control costs through competition. 3) Give parents real choice in education. 4) Competitive outsourcing of government work. 5) Transparency. To these I say, "Hear! Hear!" and "Amen and Amen!" They would gut the Takings Coalition and give government control back to us, where it belongs, so we can limit it and bound its reach into our lives.

A terrific book I wish EVERYONE would read and consider seriously.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taxes Explained, January 8, 2011
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This review is from: Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives (Paperback)
"In politics, taxation is not the most important thing. It is the only thing." This is the first sentence of Mr. Norquist's chapter on TAXES: The lifeblood of the state.

Mr. Norquist does an excellent job explaining different categories of taxes - marginal income tax rate, property taxes, alternative minimum taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend income taxes, tariffs as taxes, social security as taxes, payroll taxes - the list goes on. As a non-accountant, I learned a lot from this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Way to Understand the Political Landscape, January 22, 2010
"Norquist, Grover. Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives. (New York, HarperCollins, 2008)"

"Since founding Americans for Tax Reform at the behest of Ronald Reagan in 1985, Grover Norquist emerged as a powerful behind the scenes player in Washington. Besides offering a trenchant view of what factions have come together to unite in a common conservative cause politically, this book crystallizes his inclusive view that redefines conservatism broadly as a coalition of Americans that spans across immigrants, Moslems, gun owners, or investors, with one thought in common: they wish to pursue their interests and be left alone to do so."

Grover Norquist's new book, Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives, is a panoramic view of the many coalitions of the left and the right that are polarized like never before in American politics. The Conservative Economist finds it showcases the exceptional analytic skill of Norquist, who dissects the factions backing each side, reveals some surprising milestones of the modern conservative movement, and identifies needed reforms that would have maximum impact. The Conservative Economist viewpoint, which is strongly influenced by current negative macroeconomic trends, fears for additional gains to be had by Democrats in 2008 as a follow-on to the 2006 election cycle. However, Norquist demonstrates that there is much about which to be hopeful, if not in this cycle then in the next.

To wit, thanks to Ronald Reagan's establishing the IRA, there is now a vital "investor class" possessing 50 million such accounts, and two-thirds of voters own stocks. If one is part of this emerging faction, one's proclivity to vote Republican is vastly greater. So strong is this relationship that it withstood a $9.6 trillion collapse of shareholder wealth by less than one month prior to the 2002 mid-term election. While mainstream Protestants are declining, Southern Baptists have nearly doubled membership to over 16 million in the last 40 years, and there are many other conservative churches on the rise. Mormonism is the fastest growing U.S. religion, having swelled by nearly 20% in the last decade to just shy of 6 million practitioners. Catholics, long a Democrat mainstay, number 65 million and have eroded from being 64% pro-Democrat in JFK's time to only 41% ten years ago. Other discrete members of the "Leave Us Alone" coalition include hunters (13 million but flat to down) and homeschoolers (2 million and expanding 7% annually). Although sometimes small in number, these can be persuasive political forces. The home-schooled are more than twice as likely to vote, fourteen times more likely to work on a campaign, and they are solidly conservative. Demographics play a leading role, for conservatives are far more inclined to have children, and less apt to abort them. Adding to population trends are migration from high- to low-tax states, and youth recruitment through increasingly popular and effective organizations such as the Young Americans for Freedom, the Leadership Institute, and the Federalist Society. And for those of all ages, there is the phenomenon of talk radio.

However, the flip side is the "Takings Coalition" has been growing, too. Government employees have swelled from 13.9 million in 1994 to 15.8 million in 2004, well up from a paltry 6.6 million in 1952. These fortunate personnel earn about $9,000 more than those who toil in the private sector, but the real feathering is in retirement benefits that escalate their average annual pay package to over $100,000 annually, a whopping 50% premium. Norquist zeroes in on others who indirectly suck at the public teat, such as trial lawyers and labor unions. He delves into how government actions have strengthened their influence; profiling "union card checking," campaign finance loopholes, and paycheck protection, among others.

The clarity of Grover Norquist's approach to understanding politics is demonstrated well in his review of past presidents and congressional history. Eisenhower and Nixon are revealed as spenders; J.F. Kennedy is a conservative supply-sider by today's standards. George W. Bush watches over a spending increase from $3.1 trillion in 2001 to $4.1 trillion in 2006 that includes the creation of Medicare Part D and the restoration of a 10-year, $200 billion farm subsidy; spending under Clinton grows just 3.8% annually. Conservatives are repulsed by this latest paradox, and being one, Norquist is anything but pro-Democrat. To explain this inconsistency, he attributes the derailment of conservative thinking to Bush's theoretically flawed focus on the budget deficit. Had Bush contained spending (and spending as a percent of the economy in particular), the nation's balance sheet would be on better footing and the takings factions would have been forced to fight among themselves, and their ranks would be slightly less swelled. The problem with stressing the deficit to the exclusion of spending is that it ceded control over the language of the debate, because the strong economy fixed the deficit but left the door open to permit massive government expansion. The modern big-government Republicans might find this palatable, but in the end it erodes the "Leave Us Alone" coalition and strengthens those under the "Takings" banner.

Norquist gets under the hood of congressional power shifts and other demographic cross-cuts to reveal clues to where the standoff between the left and right may be headed. He scours over fund raising records to show how the "Contract with America" in 1994 broke the Democrat's license to extort money from the business sector. This has aided Republicans measurably ever since. Using traditional categories of political division, he sets his sight on five additional potent targets: chipping away at the black demographic, appealing to a majority of Hispanic voters, tort reform, achieving parity in Jewish campaign donations, and ending compulsory union dues (and their subsequent redirection into political spending). Each of these is developed well within the book. After a recent speech, Norquist was asked about the immigration issue, and in reply he passionately asserted conservative issues such as vouchers and entitlements could recast the landscape to bring immigrants on board once they enter the U.S., for these individuals at their core have conservative ideals embodied in Catholicism or the work ethic.

However, in writing this book Norquist presents a new categorization of voter sympathies. Its brilliance is that it opens up the possibility of engineering reforms to fit with desires of leave-us-aloners: portability and direct ownership of pensions, health savings accounts, school vouchers, outsourcing of government functions, and transparency. This latter agenda item may prove to be the most effective of all, for few of any political stripe can oppose it. The disinfectant of public scrutiny could immediately change the behavior of bureaucrats and politicians everywhere in government, especially in areas that directly touch the life of voters, such as schools.

Critics of the book assert that Norquist would not leave them alone, legislating abortion or other moral code. They have also insisted that his segmentation is inappropriate, for Republicans are indeed advocates of big government as proven by the recent spending record of Congress. They would instead prefer him to join the crowd and make peace with the new brand of politician of the right that is emerging. The Conservative Economist cannot deny the preeminence of McCain-style compromise, at least early on in the 2008 election cycle. But Norquist can be credited for recognizing that Republicans and Democrats have shuffled the deck in a new way since the eras of Eisenhower, Kennedy and Nixon, under which conservatism has emerged and matured as a forceful voice of those who wish to be left alone, and liberalism has degraded into a grab fest of trial lawyers, unions, government workers, and anyone else seeking to take and redistribute using the forces of taxation and regulation.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Three cheers for Grover Norquist!, March 2, 2014
Richard J. Bishirjian (Norfolk, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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Excellent look at what America may become if we do not reduce size and intrusiveness of government. Grover Norquist takes no prisoners.
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11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hands-on Guide To Practical Politics, April 19, 2008
James Lucier (Arlington, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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What makes people vote the way they do? This is a great book and a stimulating read with a zinger of an insight on every page. There is a lot more than economics and demographics that drives the political marketplace. In example after example, Norquist argues that the key to building political coalitions is to correctly identify the one issue that brings everyone in a certain group to the table. Political scientists call this "preference versus intensity." Norquist applies this principle across the board in the American political marketplace--in ways that may surprise you. Norquist uses the shorthand "Leave Us Alone" to identify a broad coalition of interest groups whose basic instinct is libertarian, not on everything, but on their key voting issue. The flip side of the coin is a "takings coalition," as Norquist terms it, which looks for government intervention on its key points of intensity. It is pretty clear what side the libertarian Norquist is on, but everyone who runs political campaigns for a living or wants to understand the dynamics of U.S. politics needs to read this book. Be irritated or thrilled. Norquist pops open the hood and shows how the engine works. You can see the pistons chugging.
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Independence or Nanny State?, April 17, 2008
The question is a simple one: are you in control of your own life or is government intruding on your rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"? The author very clearly identifies the differences between the "Takers Coalition" and the "Leave Us Alone Coalition". A very interesting read.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory Reading for People Who Hate Nanny State Government, November 2, 2008
MAT (Sylvania, OH United States) - See all my reviews
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Thomas Pain was quoted as saying "That government is best which governs least." If you believe that then this book was written for you. It should be mandatory reading for individuals who own small businesses, are pro second amendment, advocates of school choice, members of the investor class, i.e. own an IRA or 401(k) plan, believe in much lower and reformed taxes and anyone else who believes in the vision of Thomas Jefferson where we have small government and people are left to live their lives with minimal government intrusion and don't rely on government to provide everything from housing to healthcare. You believe in individualism and want government to stay out of your life.

Part 1 shows a detailed comparison of what Mr. Norquist calls the "Leave Us Alone Coalition" and "The Takings Coalition". Many conservatives and advocates for small government already know these descriptions intuitively, but it is good to clearly see the stark contrast between the two distinct and mutually exclusive groups. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum you will find yourself in one of these two camps. If you find yourself in the Leave Us Alone camp you will enjoy the rest of the book. If you find yourself in The Takings Coalition, you should probably stop reading as it will only offend your elite sensibilities where you believe government is always the solution and never the problem.

Part 2 of the book details the trends that are shaping the forces and issues that make up each coalition and show where each is going. This was a very valuable chapter because it shows in detail the areas in which the left will lead assaults to minimize the political power of the Leave Us Alone Coalition. It also shows the groups that are also members of the Leave Us Alone Coalition so that you can band together with them on their causes and they can hopefully join yours, which will help create strength in numbers. If you are a Leave Us Alone Coalition member you will see the groups on the left and issues they are attacking to subject you to a larger and more intrusive government. It is hard to fight an enemy that you can't see and have no idea where they will strike next. The great military philosopher Sun Tzu said "Know your enemy" after reading this section that enemy and their battle plans will be crystal clear to you.

Part 3 was the best in the entire book. It details the key reforms that will be needed to strengthen the Leave Us Alone Coalition. It shows in detail what issues you should be advocating, fighting, and most importantly voting for. After reading this section you will be armed to the teeth to ask any politician both State and Federal where they stand on the issues that will make government our servants instead of the the other way around. You will see why the key issues he lays out are so critical to long term change and how you can help get us there. It gives a very detailed road map for voters who choose to be informed and wish to be left alone by government. People should not fear their government rather the government should fear the people. If the Takings Coalition continues unchecked it will be us who fears them and is at their mercy for all of our needs. If we follow, fight, and vote for the issues that is detailed in this section it will create the long term change in government that keeps government working for us and out of our daily lives.

Many of the statistics and facts Mr. Norquist cites in the book are all sourced in the end so that you can go see exactly where he obtained a particular piece of information or stat and check it for yourself if wish, which I would encourage you to do as it will make you that much more informed.

One final point. To all the Kool Aid drinking members of the Taking Coalition that don't read this book, but come and give it a one star rating thinking you are somehow making a statement...grow up, you aren't making a statement, you are just showing you are an illiterate fool. Get off the dole, get a job, and leave us alone!
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep hope alive -- the country can still turn in the right direction, June 3, 2008
Grover Norquist uses an impressive array of facts and statistics to demonstrate that we do not have to inevitably become more and more like France. Deep economic, demographic and political trends exist that will make real Tax Reform and much more limited government possible. The book contains a plan that outlines how this can actually be done. It seems daunting right now, being faced with the possibility of Carter follows Nixon scenario, but the author has identified some basic long term trends that do indeed keep hope alive
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Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives
Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives by Grover Glenn Norquist (Paperback - March 17, 2009)
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