The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History

John Samples, Author . Cato Institute $24.95 (340p) ISBN 978-1-935308-28-7

Freedom fights a losing battle with an out-of-control Washington in this manifesto. Cato Institute scholar Samples decries seven decades of “progressive” government, from the New Deal to today's giant bailouts in this story of soaring taxes, spending, and deficits in which both parties come out tarnished. (The author credits Ronald Reagan with restraining government growth but pillories George W. Bush as a champion of big government.) More than over-mighty bureaucrats and spineless politicians, Samples's real target is the American people, whose self-reliance has been corrupted, he believes, by government largesse that others pay for. (His bête noire is Social Security, which he regards as essentially a multigenerational Ponzi scheme.) Samples rarely justifies smaller government in terms of public well-being; he deplores almost any accretion of government power as an infringement of liberty. His flinty libertarianism can seem callous: grousing about an initiative to tax cigarettes to pay for children's health insurance, he writes, “[T]axpayers could afford to be sentimental about sick children if... someone else would be required to pay.” Samples shrewdly analyzes the politics behind government expansion, but never grapples with it on the merits. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/22/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 340 pages - 978-1-935308-29-4
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