How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State
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 In this combination of sweeping metahistory and myopic self- interest some statements are penetrating, others appalling, and all are astonishing. Davidson and Rees-Mogg (The Great Reckoning, 1991, etc.) predict that the ``nanny state'' of the Industrial Age is about to be replaced by ``Sovereign Individuals'' in the Information Age. The growing ease of transferring assets electronically across state borders will preclude taxation (a constant source of bitter complaint in this volume), and consequently, states will cease to exist. In a decentralized environment talented individuals will act unimpeded by external authority; indeed, they will hardly need to interact with other human beings. The argument is original, and the details reflect serious thought about the social implications of emerging technology. Before following Davidson and Rees-Mogg into cyberspace, however, the reader should consider how ideological convictions shape this vision of the future. Casting the state as nothing more than an entity for waging war and with a rapacious appetite for revenues overlooks governmental functions that may be important to people not consumed with avoiding taxes. Rejecting meaningful human bonds beyond the kinship links of sociobiology and shared financial interest neglects aspects of community life that may be treasured by those not so eager to trade social responsibilities for an investor's utopia. Anticipating that widely divergent incomes in the Information Age will render democracy ``a recipe for legalized parasitism'' disregards the possibility that allegiance may rest on concerns such as legitimacy and justice. Nevertheless, Davidson and Rees-Mogg must be given their due. While wild claims (e.g., a reference to ``the poorly disguised murder of Vincent Foster'' in a vitriolic attack on the Clintons) raise questions about their objectivity, you have to respect authors who boldly state their convictions and predictions. (Author tour; radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81007-7
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1996