Customer Reviews: Government Is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution
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on March 2, 2012
Douglas Amy's book is essential reading for anyone seriously concerned about the future of this country. In an era where vitriolic denunciations of government have entered the mainstream and acquired a taken-for-granted status, Amy's forceful defense of government is a breath of fresh air.

He takes the unusual approach of looking closely at what government actually does, reminding us of the many, many ways in which each of us--on a daily basis--benefit from and depend on government. He shows, among other things, how government protects our rights and safety as workers and consumers; how it promotes home ownership, retirement security, infrastructure development, educational advancement, equality of opportunity, and economic growth; how it combats poverty, discrimination, disease, air and water pollution, and other social problems; and how it compensates for the persistent and nowadays all-too obvious failures of the market. It is easy to complain about government, but the reality is this: if anti-government forces continue to get their way, the lives of most Americans will become immeasurably worse.

In defending government, Amy is not saying that everything government does it does well, and he certainly believes there is a great deal of room for improvement. But the problem with government is not government itself, and the problem is not what conservative critics say it is--that government is the natural enemy of freedom, or that government bureaucracy is inevitably inefficient and wasteful, or that Americans are overtaxed.

The real problem with government, due to the corrupting influence of money via campaign contributions and deep-pocket lobbyists, is that it has become increasingly beholden to powerful private interests and less responsive to the needs of the larger American public. The real problem with government in short, Amy convincingly argues, is a "deficit of democracy." This is what hinders government from living up to its potential. What we need then is not less government but more government, and not just more government but more democratic government. This is Amy's central message, and it is one we cannot afford to ignore.
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on January 13, 2012
Prof. Amy's book "Government Is Good" is really good. It is the best, the most thorough and complete progressive rationalization for government. I say this even after I have read Al Franken, Michael Moore, Bill Press, John Perkins, Naomi Klein, Greg Palast and several others. This is a must reading for progressives to sustain their ideological belief and for conservatives who often display silliness and ridiculous errors when attacking government. It's a must reading for all Americans and non Americans alike. Dr. Amy inspired in me the following observation. Extreme conservatives attack socialism by equating it to the way it was applied by failed totalitarian regimes like USSR, East Germany and several Eastern European countries. Conservatives need to realize that if socialism is used with capitalism, the hybrid system produces prosperous nations and contented people in them. Examples are England, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and Canada. Capitalism is good but it is not perfect, from it. The great depression of 1933 was mainly a result of capitalism way out of control. Same reason for the great recession of 2008. FDR used socialistic approach to enable the US to recover from the depression and lead on the path of prosperity and demonstrate that the US is one of the most effective practitioners of capitalism under the auspices of free enterprise. With his socialistic approach, FDR made capitalism in the US stronger,more productive and more prosperous. Kudos to Dr. Amy.

Terry Sarigumba, Ph. D.
Brunswick, Georgia
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on March 10, 2014
In reading the comments on the one star reviews of this book I immediately ran across the assertion by D. Barbieri that:

"Amy refuses to answer basic ethical questions like, ""is it okay to force people to pay for things they don't want, don't need, never asked for and/or are morally opposed to?"" with a straight answer of ""yes"" or ""no;"" instead he waffles around seeking to support a hideous idea: that one group of people has the right to dominate another by force."

My initial reaction to this assertion was: Right on D. Barbieri!! Why should criminals be taxed to support the police or pacifists be taxed to support the military or people who don't believe in education or public works be taxed to support public education, build public roads and highways, and maintain public parks they will never use?

What right does the majority have to force taxes on those who "don't want, don't need, never asked for and/or are morally opposed to" the police and the military and public education or public roads and highways and parks? If we could just get rid of the government we would all be free to hire our own police and create our own militaries and our own schools and roads and highways and parks, and we wouldn't have to worry about any one group of people dominating another by force.

Lord knows that only governments use force. It's not as if free individuals or groups of free individuals ever use force to take what they want in the absence of government to do their bidding! It's not as if we actually need the police to keep the peace and the government to protect our rights from marauding bands of criminals! If we could just get rid of government there would never be the use of force by one group against another in our society. Just look how well this is working out in Somalia today where there is no government to force people to do its bidding. In Somalia everyone is free to do whatever they want to do! It's just wonderful in Somalia today with no government to force you to pay for things you don't want to pay for.

It kind of makes you wonder why Professor Amy doesn't understand these simple truths, doesn't it? If Barbieri had actually read Amy's book (which Barbieri admits he has not done though he has looked at Amy's website and Facebook page) he might have come to realized that Amy does, in fact, understand the problems underlying these not so simple truths far beyond anything Barbieri could possibly imagine. No one who has actually read Amy's book could honestly assert that Amy refuses to answer Barbieri's question in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

Think about that question: "is it okay to force people to pay for things they don't want, don't need, never asked for and/or are morally opposed to?" It seems to me that just about anyone should be able to see that this is a question like the question: "Is it okay for one person to kill another?" Insisting that someone give a "Yes" or "No" answer to either of these questions is to insist on a false choice. The fact is that for the overwhelming majority of people the correct answer to both of these questions is: "It depends!"

While there are a few individuals who would be willing to assert that it is never okay to kill another individual, even in self defense or in defense of one's family, there are even fewer who would be willing to assert that it is okay to kill another person without qualifying this response with the circumstances in which they think it is okay to do so and when it is not. Only a true Christian who is willing to go to the cross in order to avoid bloodshed even in defense of their own life or that of their children, or a true psychopath who believes it is okay to kill anyone they want for whatever reason they want could honestly answer this question unequivocally. For those of us who are not true Christians or true psychopaths the controversy is about when it is permissible for one person to kill another, not whether it is permissible to do so.

Professor Amy explains in great detail the vital functions the government performs within our society and why these functions can only be performed efficiently by government. There is much room for controversy as to the amount of resources we should devote to government to perform these functions, on how they should be paid for, and on whether the government should be involved in performing these functions in the first place. Insisting that someone declare they are either a true Christian or a true psychopath when it comes to the right of the government to collect the taxes needed to pay for the functions it performs contributes nothing to the resolution of these controversies. It's not as if, somehow, a "yes" or "no" answer to this question is going to resolve the controversies raised by Professor Amy's book for the vast majority of the population who are not true Christians or true psychopaths in this regard.

Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution is a truly remarkable book. Professor Amy explains the functions of government in our daily lives in a way that no one else does. It is a book that should be read by everyone, especially by those who think they already know everything that is worth knowing about government. Such people could undoubtedly learn a great deal from Professor Amy's book if they were to actually read it and were to honestly try to understand why government is an essential institution within a civilized society.

Finally, I would note that in his one star review of Professor Amy's book, Benjamin Richards states: "This book, like the odious website off which it is based, is a display of the author's most extraordinary idiocy" and "that bozos such as Professor Amy . . . are frightened by the prospect of a coming era of liberty." Aside from the fact that this kind of ad hominem attack (name calling, if you will) adds nothing but animosity to the discussion, there is no discussion of what Professor Amy actually says his book in Mr. Richard's review. In addition, in his comment on Mark Cassell's review of this book, Mr. Richards states: "Amy is of the mentality that the ends justify the means, and therefore any lie or misrepresentation is an acceptable way to prove his dishonest points."

If you are going to call someone a liar, Mr. Richards, at the very least you should tell us what the lie is supposed to be. Saying something that you disagree with does not make someone a liar, and, in my mind, it is the height of dishonesty to call someone a liar just because you disagree with what they have to say.

It seems to me that you should either put up or shut up, Mr. Richards: What lie is Professor Amy supposed to have told in his book? A quote and a page number documenting that lie--or your inability to provide one--would go a long way toward helping us to understand just who it is that is being dishonest here and who it is that is lying.
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on December 10, 2011
It's difficult to believe that, in the wake of the financial crisis, it's necessary to make the case for government. The egregious behavior of Wall Street firms set the our country's economy on fire while conservatives and libertarians watched unable to understand how private actors and markets could bring down the largest and most powerful economy in the world. The mindless anti-government fervor that began in the 1980s crescendoed under George W. Bush and has continued even under President Obama. We've long since given up on the notion of improving government and moved on to just getting rid of government.

Fortunately, Doug Amy has published this terrific book that underscores the need for government, points to numerous ways we're better off as a result of government, and offers real life examples for how we can improve government.

The book parallels Amy's popular [...]. And, like the website, the book is readable, engaging, and easy to understand. There's no propaganda or mindless ideology. Just a strong case for why government is crucial for our daily lives.
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on October 14, 2014
About time somebody pointed out how absurd the antigovernment rhetoric truly is. Amy does a great service, although I fear the people who really need to read this will not do so, content as they are to believe the distortions they enjoy from Fox News.
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on January 22, 2013
An excellent book to dispel the myth of "rugged individualism" so prevalent in our society. Give it to anyone you know who does not recognize the importance of government and collective action.
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on December 15, 2011
Actually, my book hasn't arrived yet, but as I proof-read the web site, I'm pretty familiar with the content. My introduction was "A Day in Your Life With Government" - that alone prompted me to add my vote that the site become a book, and to e-mail Professor Amy in gratitude. Reading the site was like taking a course from a favorite college professor, only better - a course that would find us with a much more informed electorate were it a mandatory one. I'm thrilled to see this book launch, and excited at the number of people who will have the opportunity to expand their understanding of and appreciation for our government.

While many things can be improved and others now suffer from seemingly irreversible decades of neglect, Professor Amy gives me hope that there are many more like him who will share his web site and book to help stop the insanity of blaming government versus the people who mess/messed with it.
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on September 11, 2015
"Government is Good" is, from the title to the last sentence, a clear, insightful, and passionate account of the role that government has played in our country and how it has been demonized and by whom, and for what reasons. I can't think of a book I would recommend more highly to anyone concerned about the health of democracy in America. And by the way, the one-star reviews of this book are proof of the author's point. Read the book and you'll see.
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on December 27, 2011
Finally, almost all arguments for an intelligent defense of democratic government in one book. Intelligent points are written to show the infantile minds of libertarians and movement conservatives, along with their dupes, why the USA became the powerhouse of the world and why they have ruined it with greed, selfishness, and fear.

I hope to see more publications like this so we can get the USA on a road back to decency for all instead of obscene wealth for a few. If we try we can turn the country around and get it back from demagogues like Norquist, the Kochs, and the Coors, who want our nation to be nothing but another banana republic.

I am impressed at the scope of Amy's writing and his thoroughness in defeating the vacuous thinking of those accomplishing nothing but protection of the wealthy.
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on August 19, 2016
A must read for those who are concerned about our country. Well researched and well written.
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