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The New New Left: How American Politics Works Today Hardcover – May 5, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this short, punchy polemic from urban affairs expert Malanga, the gloves come off right away. Malanga decries what he sees as the leftward tilt in the nation's cities, where, he says, the heirs of the original New Left, 1960s social and political activists, have retreated in the face of right-wing dominance on the national scene. This development, he contends, pits ordinary taxpayers against "tax eaters," an "increasingly cynical coalition" of public-employee unions and social service providers. In his view, these groups drag down city and state economies with expensive programs and onerous laws that serve only to boost their own ranks. He also argues that union-supported living wage legislation sends businesses elsewhere; university labor studies programs exist merely to provide foot soldiers for union organizers; and Wal-Mart opponents undermine America's consumer-driven economy. "Radical left wing" groups like ACORN, a community organization of low-and moderate-income families incur the author's particular scorn, as do journalists Barbara Ehrenreich and David Shipler, so-called "prophets of victimology." However, beyond delivering "bad news" in lively, op-ed style chapters, the author is silent on the problems faced by many low-wage workers. For Malanga, the antidote to the country's economic ills is entrepreneurship, a curious claim when one considers that independent businesses are the very ones threatened by the expansion of superstores like Wal-Mart. In a concluding paean to small business owners, Malanga says, "urban health results from city governments doing the basics well and then allowing the marketplace to work its magic for everyone." He neglects, however, to explore how communities should respond to the issues faced by people whom the magic never touches.
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From Booklist

Purporting to set aside Left and Right, red and blue, Malanga argues that the defining dynamic of divided America is actually animosity between those who pay taxes and those who tap public funds. Examining the sometimes conflicting interests--and hence political valences--of taxpayers and "tax eaters," this book claims that the cumulative power of multiple groups demanding public monies hamstrings municipalities and saps efficient government. Familiar to readers of the New York Post and New York Sun op-ed pages, Malanga's perspective is very much informed by his proximity to big-city politics; his most nuanced moments are devoted to the Bronx Democratic Party and modern-day echoes of Tammany Hall. Extrapolated to the national sphere, however, his editorial essays are less original, unsubtly amplifying right-wing criticism of labor unions, socialist university professors, and Barbara Ehrenreich. Though it may attract and please readers who would otherwise ignore a book about New York City Hall, this book's partisan bite ultimately overshadows its otherwise intriguing attempt to reassess traditional political dichotomies. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (May 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566636442
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566636445
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,681,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By John on September 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
On one of the flaps of this book, a reviewer states: "American politics is not about parties, it is about special interest group against special interest group". Very true. Increasingly, the Left is dominated by what Steven Malanga calls "tax eaters", which are mostly public unions in large U.S. cities that exist to consume tax funds (and provide "services" to client groups, but in a very inefficient way that does not solve the underlying problem). It is interesting to note that as the U.S. moves more to the "Right" (free market economics, individual responsibility and low taxes), the big cities are dominated by groups perpetualy stuck in the 1960s Welfare State (tax heavily to fund a huge public bureaucracy that ostensibly redistributes money to victim groups and minorities). The latter is, as the late 20th century shows, increasingly inefficient and decrepit. Go to any big city and see the inner city stagnating, and the periphery growing and thriving (that is really the case where I live, which is Dallas, Texas). Public unions increasingly use the rhetoric of "helping the poor", when in reality, they are just out to defend their own power. This is very clear, for example, when Walmart attempts to move into a ghetto. Mostly, the people living there are for Walmart, becuase to them it means shopping cheaper, and thus, an increase in their disposible income. Then, inevitably, "activists" show up (mostly from outside the community that they perportedly speak for), claiming to "speak for the community". Those groups mainly object to Walmart because Walmart is non-union, not because Walmart "oppresses the poor". Thus, the special interest groups involved want to defend their own power, above all else.Read more ›
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAME on June 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The New New Left of the 21st century is the heir to the 1960s New Left, demolished so well by Ayn Rand in her book The New Left: The Anti Industrial Revolution. The movement that Malanga investigates is still ideological but far more cynical. In place of the earlier hippies, they are dedicated careerists. Now it is all about wielding power on the local level, especially in the inner cities, in order to benefit themselves. Like all leftists they are parasites and Malanga quite rightly labels them Tax Eaters.

Who are they? Coalitions of politicians, state-funded social service agencies, public employee unions, community activists and interest groups of various stripes. They aim to expand government programmes in order to reap more of the good life from the sweat of the labor of others, and they use the language of social justice and political correctness to further this aim. In the process they invariably do more harm than good to their communities.

Unions are one of the remaining redoubts of the Left and the reason that the Democrats still control many cities. Once that support dissipates with the decline in union membership, the leftist inner city councils like that of New York City will be all that remains. Describing how they have reversed Giuliani's reforms, the author predicts the return of urban decay. The Tax Eaters are driving out the Tax Payers.

The book also deals with the continuing attempt to demonise Wal-Mart. Malanga demonstrates how caring this company really is and its popularity amongst poor people. The non-union chain is a threat to union control over the labor market and it undermines leftist theories of "market failure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth M. Steele on July 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Absolutely the most depressing book I have ever read, all the more depressing because everything in it is true. Essentially, Mr. Malanga outlines in detail how ACORN and the Democrat party, in concert with the academy and the "creative" class, have succeeded in eating away at the very foundations of the republic and frog-marched us inexorably toward socialism. Must be read in installments, one chapter at a sitting, because consuming the whole book at once will cause a fatal increase in blood pressure.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Politics in modern America doesn't just contrast left and right attitudes: a new dynamic has been emerging between those who benefit from an expanding government, and those who have to pay for it: that's the focus of Steven Malanga's The New New Left, a history which examines these two movements and their sources. From the growth of public-sector employee unions in the 1950s which produced political ties to the war on poverty in the 1960s, funded by neighborhood grassroots efforts, The New New Left: How American Politics Works Today brings all the pieces of the puzzle together.
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