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Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State Paperback – May 15, 2001
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Where libertarian manifestos are popular, this denunciation of the welfare state from a former Cato Institute senior editor, currently a senior fellow at the Future of Freedom Foundation, will have appeal. (Richman has previously attacked public education in Separating School and State, 1994, and the income tax in Your Money or Your Life , 1997.) His latest book argues that welfare states are, at bottom, simply "engines of paternalistic wealth transfers." Historically, he insists, welfare states were constructed to allow venal politicians to toss bribes to groups of voters. Richman traces the shift, in the U.S., from "rugged individualism" to the welfare state and explores the impact of the Civil War, the rise of the social sciences, and a range of movements and intellectuals. After a chapter on how the poor would benefit if the U.S. abolished its welfare state, Richman closes his argument with the fervent assertion that only the elimination of every element of the welfare state "will remove the tethers that prevent individuals from living completely human lives." Most appropriate for true believers. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Richman brilliantly explains how the government breaks its citizens' legs and then hands them crutches. This is a fine book. -- Lowell Ponte, national radio talk show host
This book is an eloquent debunking of the welfare state, from its Prussian origins to its Iron Fist contemporary reality. -- James Bovard, author, Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Power in the Clinton-Gore Years
This book is essential reading for understanding how the welfare state is incompatible with constitutional government and a free society. -- Congressman Ron Paul
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The US budget figures it uses during its conception is outdated and there are notable changes. The decrease in science spending, while increases in both military and social spending come to mind. These older figures do not impact the book's argument, the book relies on the history of welfare to form the argument.
The book argues that a person on welfare clothes itself in a false blanket of freedom. Since a person on welfare instinctively votes for the candidate that offers increased benefits, welfare recipients are relying on politicians to provide for their needs.
Richman uses the example of pensions for civil war veterans to back up this claim. Politicians initiated a pension plan to buy the votes of a key demographic at the time, veterans.
The book then goes to explain how private charities and institutions were used before the New Deal. A decent sum of the people relied on private companies, pension programs and accident insurance, they paid into and relied on during the depression years.
After a brief history, Richman talks about the European development of social programs. The Poor Laws of England, and Bismark's programs. He describes a strong relation between the US and the late 18th/early 19th European welfare systems.
As for the abolishment of the welfare system, Richman argues that private businesses and charities can make up for the government current spending on welfare.
What I liked about the book was the written notes at the end of each chapter. Here you can see little bits about how the Author feels about certain people and ideas. These notes do not further explain the arguments he makes throughout the book, I see them as mini commentaries about various issues, scholars, or quotes.
I give the book three stars because it is not a deeply elaborate book that dwells into all the alternatives for and against a welfare system, but rather a simple pick me up book that gives a broad understanding of the history of US welfare system and one view on how to combat the problem. There is nothing wrong with this, but it doesn't warrant the book a perfect rating.
I especially enjoyed Mr. Richman's detailed historical examples which help to brilliantly illustrate and prove the point he is making. Not only does it show the blunder that is the welfare state, it also proves that it is a blunder created not by one of the two major parties, but equally by both.
Richman manages to touch on almost every facet of the welfare state and show how it has failed and why it is wrong to believe the government can solve the problem. Just as Mr. Richman has left you feeling dejected, disillusioned and fearful of a future that continues in the fashion it has for decades, he ends his book with practical and intelligent solutions which could be implemented today if we had a government full of officials who feel truth, honesty and freedom are more important than political careers and power.
I found this book to be an incredible eye-opener even for me, someone who already embraced the ideas of self-sovereignty and freedom. After reading this book many of the issues which I had a limited understanding of became incredibly clear. I use this book now as a brilliant opener for friends and relatives who can not let go of their dependancy on government - whether it be mental and philosophical or monetary. It is a perfect starter to open the mind of someone who was been taught all their lives to depend on an "all-caring and all-knowing government" to solve all of this country's and the world's problems.