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Neither Liberty nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government (Independent Studies in Political Economy) Paperback – April 1, 2007
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This book seems to be a condensed and bite-sized version of Dr. Higgs' many contributions to political economy.
Chapter 5 "What Got Us Into and Out of the Great Depression" is worth the price of the book by itself.
The one thing I did not like was the title and cover. It gives off this conspiracy theory "the government is out to get us" type of feel which I think turns some people off.
I can't think of that many other books that do a great job of discussing so many important concepts and bits of history in so short a time. Highly recommended.
I also recommend Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society and Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (A Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy Book) by the same author.
In California during the A Schwarzenegger governorship we saw a Republican governor try to dismantle and steer the state out of a recession/deficit time only to grind to a stalemate. As unsatisfactory as the explanation was it was true; the govt of Calif is multi-layered w/ well entrenched interest groups that refuse to give ground and can stymie the reform process.
This book describes how the Federal govt can take on a life of its own. Having sprung up it becomes a Frankenstein monster, uncontrollable by its creator. But where the creature from the book could only dream of reproducing this monster buearocracy can actually live on and replicate itself.
At times the book is laborious in its explanation and intricacy but that is expected from a PH.d.
I had the pleasure of meeting Higgs at a forum held recently. I was impressed at how feisty he holds his anti-govt views.
Sadly the book ends w/ the caveat that Big Daddy Govt can not be tamed. Lazzaire fare govt can't be had b/c citizens raised on freebies by the govt refuse to go cold turkey. Yet encouragingly the opposite extreme Socialist dogma fed govt is equally undoable. Therefore things are bad but shall survive and hopefully can fine tune things. If future generations take notice they might learn from our struggle.