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The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure Kindle Edition

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Length: 245 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Mr. Williamson is an astute observer and a talented stylist, and his book is full of vivid images and sharp phrases. -- Kyle Peterson, The Washington Times


Kevin Williamson's new book is quite possibly the best indictment of the State since Our Enemy, the State appeared some eight decades ago. It is a lovely, brilliant, humane, and remarkably entertaining work. -- Jonah Goldberg, National Review


At last, a conservative treatise that isn't too bilious to taste--and that is often entertaining even as it is provocative. It's a pleasure to find so even and logical a voice in these pages, which deserve broad airing. -- Kirkus Reviews

From the Author

Why are our smart phones so smart--getting better and cheaper every year--while our government is so dumb? Is there a way to apply the creative and productive institutions that produced the iPhone to education, public schools, or Medicare?
 
A few years ago, I was giving a lecture in which I mentioned, as an aside, that libertarians and free-market conservatives often utter the words "the market will take care of it" or "voluntary charity will take care of it" as though those sentences were real answers to meaningful questions. And when they do try to address social concerns in a more substantive fashion, they too often fall into the trap of drawing up blueprints for utopias. 
 
We live in remarkable times, an age of extraordinary wealth, freedom, and creativity. But a few critical areas of life--education, health care, and retirement prominent among them--are dominated by antiquated political systems that cannot respond adequately to the complexity of 21st century life. The problem is not so much left-wing politics or right-wing politics, "good" politics or "bad" politics, but the centrality of politics per se, the inevitable defects associated with centralized, hierarchical decision-making institutions that cannot evolve in response to fast-moving, complex knowledge.
 
Economists spend a great deal of time talking about efficiency, productivity, GDP, marginal output and the like, but I am more interested in the question T. S. Eliot put to us: "When the Stranger says: 'What is the meaning of this city? Do you huddle close together because you love each other?' What will you answer? 'We all dwell together to make money from each other'? or 'This is a community'?" I live a few blocks from Wall Street--what, indeed, is the meaning of this city? If we do not have a good answer to that question, then all of the efficiency and productivity in the world are not going to do us a great deal of good.
 
My book has a two-part argument; I call it "short-term pessimism, long-term optimism." It is not always obvious, but government as we know it is in retreat, a retreat that I expect to be accelerated by economic trends related to public debt and unfunded government liabilities. But once the disorder is behind us, we will discover new and better ways to serve one another. You would not know it to listen to many of the self-appointed defenders of capitalism, but that is what the economy is there for.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1216 KB
  • Print Length: 245 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062220683
  • Publisher: Broadside e-books (May 7, 2013)
  • Publication Date: May 7, 2013
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009NF6CGY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,277 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

156 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Graham H. Seibert TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Williamson is a good writer; he has excellent credentials and a vast amount of experience. He chose the title that would sell the book, but it does not describe the book. It teasingly suggests that the developed world will not be able to support its high level of debt, decreasing level of education, and so on for very long. It proposes that when the old is gone, the new which replaces it will be more attractive.

The book hits on both sides of the equation. Our system of entitlements, in the United States and most of the developed world, is unsustainable. However it works out - other authors are more articulate - governments will simply have to default on promises they have made for retirement and health benefits. There will be something of a collapse, and somehow institutions will persist after the collapse. The title suggests that the author will lead the reader from A to B. That does not happen. There is no discussion of the nature of the impending collapse, or a suggestion of the mechanics by which healthier institutions will reemerge.

He does talk about healthier institutions. Williamson talks about the coercive nature of government and legal systems. He notes that human societies have developed a number of alternatives to formal governments and formal courts of law. Informal negotiation, arbitration, and community norms would be three of them.

He talks about the problems of writing legislation that will actually improve things. There are several strikes against this happening in the first place. First, the electorate is not well enough informed to recognize its own interest. Secondly, the interests of the legislators are not aligned with those of the voters. A legislator wants to get reelected and wants to get rich, most case.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Eric Mayforth on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The United States is rapidly approaching the point at which current spending levels on entitlements and other social programs by the federal government will no longer be sustainable. This country will have to make big adjustments in the years and decades to come, and author Kevin Williamson provides a look at what the future might hold in "The End Is Near and It's Going To Be Awesome."

Many think that the State best provides many goods and services, but Williamson points out why goods such as technological products made in the private sector grow better and more advanced over time, but services provided by or heavily subsidized by government, such as education and health care, do not. The author asserts that the difference is that the general public has what economists call the "right of exit" in regard to products produced by the private sector--they can refuse to purchase certain products that are inferior (as when consumers shunned 1970s American cars in favor of Japanese automobiles), forcing firms either to make gradual, evolutionary improvements to their products or face a reduced market share and ultimately bankruptcy.

By contrast, there is no right of exit in fields like education, where public-sector goods have a monopoly (or, as the author shows, practical monopoly). As a result of this coercion, bureaucracies and the bureaucrats that staff them have no incentive to improve, and in most cases stagnate and produce less desirable products as a result. (Bureaucracies don't serve anyone but bureaucrats--precisely which political party is it that serves the few at the expense of the many?) Williamson asserts that humans are complex, and as a result are poorly served by the crude one-size-fits-all programs inevitably offered by government agencies.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joseph DeSantis on May 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an interesting read because it tries to change the framework by which you look at contemporary political issues.

His assertions that government can be defined as an institution with a monopoly on violence is not particularly original, but he explains it in a very accessible way. Same with the idea that government is immune to competitive pressures.

Williamson explains the benefits of markets - the chief of them being "freedom of exit" for the consumer - and how that translates to huge improvements in quality and reduced costs. He then tackles social security, health care, and education as the big three areas where this pattern has failed to manifest, and shows how government (which he describes as an "immortal corporation") prevents this improvements in cost and quality from occurring.

Williamson made the case for vouchers in an interesting way I had not previously encountered.

Rather than saying that vouchers would promote "competition" (certainly true), he elevated the discussion by pointing out that the current system is confused about who its customers are and what its product is.

The current system pretends that it is set up to serve the students - but since they do not control the money, it ends up trying to satisfy the sole customer who actually controls the dollars: the state. And since the state is a mess of political signals that are contradictory, self-serving, and often corrupt, the education system ends up mirroring that dysfunction. Thus, the education establishment ends up becoming an arm of the state...and the needs of students are ignored.

A voucher system would reorganize the system around the needs of the students - the people who should be the real customers.
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