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on September 7, 2005
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. This is especially true of the teachers' unions in big cities. The sheer cynicism coupled with the hypocrisy is so startling ("activist" organizations demanding that companies pay their workers "a living wage", but then not paying their own workers the minimum wage !). The book provides short, readable chapters on Walmart, Barbara Ehrenreich (who "job slums" at low end jobs all to "prove" her tendentious point that the poor get the shaft in America). I highly recommend this book for a real look at the dynamics of how big city politics works today, and why our big cities are so dysfunctional.
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HALL OF FAMEon June 5, 2006
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." Those who oppose it are doing so for their own selfish and ideological ends, whilst denying the poor the chance to find jobs and save money.

For a broader look at this latest manifestation of the Left on the national level, I recommend The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of the Democrats' Desperate Fight to Reclaim Power by Byron York. That book also looks at the eccentric billionaires and Hollywood celebrities and how this crowd have taken over the Democratic Party. Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy by Peter Schweizer exposes these types for the hypocrites that they are. For a juicy history of the shameful record of the Dems, I highly recommend Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party by Lynn Vincent and Robert McCain.
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on February 7, 2006
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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on July 24, 2008
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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on April 10, 2013
This was a pretty good read. I can't rate it great because it was fairly short (147 pages) and too many of the examples were focused on the New York area. Maybe that was just Malanga's frame of reference. Overall, the book discusses many of the dangers in the drift of the liberal mindset toward the radicalism of the progressive far left. [I happen to feel there is just as much to fear from the progressive right.] One chapter that impressed me was Union U. Here, the author discusses how the unions have completely taken over the curriculums of many of our universities. There is a lot to learn in this chapter alone.
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on May 12, 2007
small businesses are not threatened by walmart- businesses that can't compete with walmart are threatened by walmart. further, walmart is threatened by small businesses. should walmart ever attempt to become the monopoly the economically illiterate left stupidly thinks it is, then, thanks to laissez-faire capitalism, it will lose out to businesses that step into fill the demand walmart thought it could ignore. but , of course, walmart won't do that. if 'small' businesses want to compete with walmart, they should complain about city taxes and anti-growth do-gooder professors and their liberal stoner lapdogs passing zoning restrictions that limit competition and thus allow mom and pop shops to charge monopolistic like prices to cover their exorbitant rent which has the effect of driving people to go to...well....walmart.

thus, the book is right. entrepeneurship is the answer to city woes and that requires laissez-faire capitalism and elimination of all the protection rackets that pass themselves off as socially enlightened when in point of fact they differ little from medieval guilds......choking off walmart just means that only the rich left-wing do-gooders who shell out ten dollars for pretentious euro-chic products in downtown boutiques will get to enjoy the consumer society they wish to deny to the rest of us.

LONG LIVE WALMART!!!!
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on October 7, 2014
I am still reading this book slowly.
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