- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (January 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1403961468
- ISBN-13: 978-1403961464
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,185,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dependent on D.C.: The Rise of Federal Control over the Lives of Ordinary Americans
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From Publishers Weekly
Americans have been seduced into surrendering their autonomy by an ever-growing federal government, contends Twight, economics professor at Boise State University. That refrain is hardly new, of course. Ronald Reagan used it to great effect in his early presidential campaigns. Twight offers a plausible explanation about why politicians like Reagan, who promise to "shrink" big government, find it so hard to do once in power. In her view, entrenched bureaucrats and politicians willfully manipulate "political transaction costs" (or the costs of collective action) in an effort to influence "people's perceptions of the costs and benefits of governmental activities." Stripped of its academic window dressing, Twight's thesis is straightforward: government insiders actively promote their own public policy initiatives. In her view, this promotion often takes the form of outright misrepresentation of costs and benefits to the individual citizen. Reviewing the history of the social security program, she explains how the Roosevelt administration won over an initially hostile public by inaccurately portraying the program as akin to "insurance," which it decidedly is not. The more citizens come to rely upon government programs, the less likely they are to agitate for reform, even when such reform is needed. In addition to social security, Twight discusses the federal government's growing involvement in health care, education, taxation and data collection. Her take on virtually all these programs is predictably dour: they fail to deliver the social benefits that their proponents promise while robbing Americans of autonomy. She also implies that those who promote big government do so largely out of self-interest. In short, Twight is so deeply distrustful of federal power that she invests no merit in the contrary position. Still, she offers a spirited argument that will engage readers who follow Washington politics.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Libertarians have a basic problem with government they don't believe it should exist except to provide a police force and a military. Nor do they appreciate the necessary role politicians perform in a democratic society. Instead, they retreat into the worst romanticisms of Thomas Jefferson. This first book by Twight reflects her specialty training outside political science and history, which includes a Ph.D. in economics, a law degree, and experience in programming computers. Like most libertarians, she espouses unrealistic ideals and ideas unrelated to pragmatic solutions to social and political issues. She fills this work with criticism of the expansion of federal authority during the past 70 years, never mind which political party governed. She also ignores lessons gathered over 2500 years of Western political philosophy, except to acknowledge that politicians may lie to cover up their misdeeds, which the author terms "transaction-cost-augmentation" i.e., they spend public money. September 11 makes most of this seem like abstract economic argument. Not recommended for general libraries; an optional purchase for large academic libraries. William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ. in Shreveport
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Chapter two is especially rich in information. Here, Twight delves into the meat of her theories. She defines the subtle nature of political transactional-cost manipulation as opposed to simple transactional costs. In the American political realm there are almost unlimited opportunities for governmental officials to manipulate costs (such as in the "fog factor" and "tectonic strategies") in order to control the outcome of policy decisions.
This part of the book is academically intense but I appreciated the fact that she provides a wealth of references for further reading and illustration. Her conclusions are thoroughly documented and explained. By the time she arrives at "contrived political transactional costs" her point is already clear and obvious.
It is clear that our societal woes and pains are often the direct result of an imposing and self serving almighty Federal System. This is an intimidating force that we should not be afraid to criticize. It is through constructive criticism such as Twight's that matters can be improved.
I find it well worth buying and reading and would recommend it to any reader concerned with issues vital to all Americans.
Ms. Twight details how that happened with several examples including Social Security, federal income tax witholding, health care and education. The most frightening is her description of the rise of federal data collection. The bottom line is Big Brother is watching, he knows where you are and he can come get you anytime he wants because it's basically impossible for you to know all the laws much less abide by them.
Ms. Twight details how politicians and bureaucrats lie, cheat and steal to accomplish the ultimate goal of getting and holding power. She is more polite though and calls it political transaction cost manipulation.
I have only two complaints about the book. The first is that Ms. Twight fails to take into account the full force of government's fellow travelors in the media and special interest groups (ranging from labor unions to recipients of corporate welfare) and their impact on the growth of government. The second is that she doesn't do enough to put the evolution of America's government into a complete historical and philosophical context.
Nevertheless, this is a book well worth reading. If you were to read it in conjunction with "The Myth of the Robber Barons," "Bias" and "America's Thirty Years War" you would have a more complete picture of what is really going on.
But, whatever you do, read this book. It's worth the effort.
Charlotte Twight chronicles the gradual evolution of growing government and eventual control.
Critics may claim she relies on fear tactics that border on conspiracy-mongering paranoia. Instead, what she really does is trace the roots of growing government control to FDR's New Deal Legislation which pushed the government-control model down the hill. It has picked up speed ever since.
During my lifespan, a mentality has existed that if something should be done about a social or societal problem, government will be the perfect solution. Twight shows otherwise. Instead, she points out how growing government control has hurt a nation that once prided itself on self-reliance and strength. Now, our states, cities, and people hold their hand out to the Federal Government like a spoiled kid does to their parents. Like a spoiled child, we have become part of the problem.
Twight shows how best intentions have gone awry in a government wanting to help and cure all societal ills ... and the battle for it.
Did you know the idea of Federal Withholding did not start until 1943? And that it was supposed to be temporary? Can you imagine how this nation would work if every American had to find the self-discipline to withhold 15 per cent of their income on their own? How would the government spend your money if we did?
Or what about social security. How much more could a company pay you, or how many more workers could they hire if they did not have to pay into a bankrupt system?
Read how the American people have abdicated responsiblity, reliance, and resilience ... thinking almighty government will solve their problems. Unfortunately, government has become the problem.
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In depth detail of how the US federal government grew to its current size, while the original US constitution restricts federal government to a few key...Read more