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It is no secret that Americans are dissatisfied with government. But while the frustration and anger are real, the way we tend to view the problem is all wrong. Rauch reveals the real problems with government, and offers a bracing tonic for unclogging the public arteries.
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A we-have-met-the-enemy-and-he-is-us tract that, for all its evenhanded approach to an obvious dilemma, appears as likely to attract bipartisan opprobrium as to spark a debate on the overburdened state of the union. Drawing mainly on anecdotal evidence gathered in or around his Washington, D.C., base, Rauch (Kindly Inquisitors, 1993, etc.) asserts that demosclerosis is ``the most serious single challenge to the long-term vitality of democratic government.'' In his unsparing lexicon, he defines this condition as the progressive paralysis of the domestic body politic (manifested in an inability to solve new problems, experiment, or even adapt to socioeconomic change). Fiscal arteries clog owing to the successful claims varied interest groups (able to enforce their will with votes and financial support) make upon the US Treasury for benefits or subsidies, most notably, perhaps, tax breaks. While the author does not quarrel with the notion of a federal government responsive to the electorate's needs as well as wishes, he deplores the havoc wrought by trade organizations and single-issue constituencies that have prevailed on the government to transfer or redistribute resources according to the dictates of special-purpose agendas. An equal-opportunity critic, Rauch cites cases in point, ranging from business associations (convinced their industries are pillars of the republic) through advocates of arguably worthy causes, e.g., campaign reform, the elderly, environmental protection, family farms, and even homeless veterans (whose coalition has an annual operating budget that tops $500,000). From an economic standpoint, he cautions, retaining lobbyists to tap the public till is no more productive (albeit no less lucrative) than hiring thieves to steal cars. Conceding the proliferation of entitlement programs is probably not fatal, the author nonetheless offers a full measure of containment proposals. His eventual conclusion: demosclerosis is a systemic disorder that, at best, can be managed, not cured. A savvy reckoning of the cost of the zero-sum games the American people play. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
Our national inability to solve our worst problems--lousy schools, rampant hooliganism, the deficit, etc.--is usually ascribed to a presumably partisan phenomenon called gridlock. But forget gridlock, this lucid, persuasive public policy analysis says. The reason the government can't get anything done is that there are too many citizen-whiner organizations--politely if not respectfully known as lobbies--pressing to have their benefits locked into law. Once they succeed, secondary groups of whiners (the American Association of Retired Persons is a classic example) arise to see to it that their programs are never even trimmed, let alone eliminated; if anything, program budgets only expand. These immortal boondoggles (including such stellar pork barrels as the sugar, tobacco, and dairy subsidies) tie up increasingly more revenue, preventing through financial privation any new actions to deal with emergent problems as well as any revision of ineffective ways of dealing with old ones. And so, the government of the richest nation in history becomes too poor to deal with its own breakdown; democracy is frozen--demosclerotic. Rauch proposes more forceful presidential leadership, more citizen forbearance, and--stiff medicine, this--more taxes and more budget cuts as necessary means to curb the ill effects of a disease he thinks can never be eradicated but might be contained so that it becomes chronic but not fatal. Ray Olson
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Book Description Three Rivers Press, 1995. Paperback. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB0812926323
Book Description Three Rivers Press. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0812926323 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0404281
Book Description Three Rivers Press, 1995. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0812926323
Book Description Three Rivers Press, 1995. Paperback. Condition: New. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0812926323n