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Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Hardcover – May 15, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

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Where libertarian manifestos are popular, this denunciation of the welfare state from a former Cato Institute senior editor, currently a senior fellow at the Future of Freedom Foundation, will have appeal. (Richman has previously attacked public education in Separating School and State, 1994, and the income tax in Your Money or Your Life , 1997.) His latest book argues that welfare states are, at bottom, simply "engines of paternalistic wealth transfers." Historically, he insists, welfare states were constructed to allow venal politicians to toss bribes to groups of voters. Richman traces the shift, in the U.S., from "rugged individualism" to the welfare state and explores the impact of the Civil War, the rise of the social sciences, and a range of movements and intellectuals. After a chapter on how the poor would benefit if the U.S. abolished its welfare state, Richman closes his argument with the fervent assertion that only the elimination of every element of the welfare state "will remove the tethers that prevent individuals from living completely human lives." Most appropriate for true believers. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Richman brilliantly explains how the government breaks its citizens' legs and then hands them crutches. This is a fine book. -- Lowell Ponte, national radio talk show host

This book is an eloquent debunking of the welfare state, from its Prussian origins to its Iron Fist contemporary reality. -- James Bovard, author, Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Power in the Clinton-Gore Years

This book is essential reading for understanding how the welfare state is incompatible with constitutional government and a free society. -- Congressman Ron Paul

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Future of Freedom Foundation; 1St Edition edition (May 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890687014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890687014
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,416,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future Of Freedom Foundation and editor of "The Freeman: Ideas On Liberty" magazine. In Tethered Citizens: Time To Repeal The Welfare State, Richman traces the history of the modern welfare state and exposes how the state directed compulsory redistribution of wealth and resources not only works to the detriment of the tax payer, but to the intended recipient of governmental largess as well. Articulate, iconoclastic, accessible, Tethered Citizens is informative reading and a much needed expose of the harmful effects of a welfare state upon the nation's economic prosperity, as well as the personal liberties and moral character of its citizenry.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Locke on November 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sheldon Richman's book, "Tethered Citizens" is truly an eye-opener. He illustrates persuasively and with much historical evidence why our welfare system fails and why it will always fail. He shows that in fact our welfare system, which many believe helps the poor and uneducated, in fact tethers and enslaves them to the state. He proves convincingly that welfarism does not work no matter where it has been implemented and in what fashion. He also shows how the idea and methods used to implement welfare are inherently wrong and inhumane.

I especially enjoyed Mr. Richman's detailed historical examples which help to brilliantly illustrate and prove the point he is making. Not only does it show the blunder that is the welfare state, it also proves that it is a blunder created not by one of the two major parties, but equally by both.

Richman manages to touch on almost every facet of the welfare state and show how it has failed and why it is wrong to believe the government can solve the problem. Just as Mr. Richman has left you feeling dejected, disillusioned and fearful of a future that continues in the fashion it has for decades, he ends his book with practical and intelligent solutions which could be implemented today if we had a government full of officials who feel truth, honesty and freedom are more important than political careers and power.

I found this book to be an incredible eye-opener even for me, someone who already embraced the ideas of self-sovereignty and freedom. After reading this book many of the issues which I had a limited understanding of became incredibly clear. I use this book now as a brilliant opener for friends and relatives who can not let go of their dependancy on government - whether it be mental and philosophical or monetary.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Aaron on August 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
The book can be broken up into several sections: the general history of America's welfare program, how Welfare came to be, where social programs originated, and how to abolish the system.

The US budget figures it uses during its conception is outdated and there are notable changes. The decrease in science spending, while increases in both military and social spending come to mind. These older figures do not impact the book's argument, the book relies on the history of welfare to form the argument.

The book argues that a person on welfare clothes itself in a false blanket of freedom. Since a person on welfare instinctively votes for the candidate that offers increased benefits, welfare recipients are relying on politicians to provide for their needs.

Richman uses the example of pensions for civil war veterans to back up this claim. Politicians initiated a pension plan to buy the votes of a key demographic at the time, veterans.

The book then goes to explain how private charities and institutions were used before the New Deal. A decent sum of the people relied on private companies, pension programs and accident insurance, they paid into and relied on during the depression years.

After a brief history, Richman talks about the European development of social programs. The Poor Laws of England, and Bismark's programs. He describes a strong relation between the US and the late 18th/early 19th European welfare systems.

As for the abolishment of the welfare system, Richman argues that private businesses and charities can make up for the government current spending on welfare.

What I liked about the book was the written notes at the end of each chapter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Reaume on March 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for anyone who is wondering if the push towards a more socialist society can really bring the benefits it's supporters tout. Even if we agree with supporters that there are citizens among us who need our aid, we must understand how various types of assistance can in fact produce more negative consequences.
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