WHAT COMES NEXT by James P. Pinkerton


The End of Big Government--and the New Paradigm Ahead
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 In a diverting commentary on our increasingly dysfunctional political system, Newsday columnist and former Bush policy advisor Pinkerton predicts the imminent demise of bureaucracy and the rise of a ``new paradigm'' of government. Deftly threading his narrative with allusions to classics and cyberpunk literature, Pinkerton sketches a frightening picture of where present economic trends of increasingly frequent relocation, reengineering, transnational capital flows, and simplification of work will lead: growing polarization of wealthy technocrats and unskilled laborers, stagnant incomes, and an increasing atomization of society, paralyzed by fear of crime. Those who can purchase security and other essential features of the social contract will do so, Pinkerton predicts; the less fortunate will live in a state of nature, abandoned by the government and social institutions that make civilized life possible. He argues that the Bureaucratic Operating System, which has come down through the ages from the ancient Egyptians who invented it, no longer delivers on its promises. Subject to bloat, the accumulation of ineptitude at every level of management, the development of a self-interested class of bureaucrats, and strangling by special interests, bureaucracies are doomed by their nature to eventual failure. Indeed, bureaucracy has only lasted as long as it has because of periodic renewal by what Pinkerton calls Big Offers: reinvention of government by visionary presidents like Abraham Lincoln and FDR. As for the present crisis, Pinkerton argues, both parties have failed to present convincing Big Offers. Pinkerton's ``new paradigm''based primarily on good, though not revolutionary, ideas intended to stimulate the economy and create ``empowerment'' (e.g., taxing consumption instead of income)is offered as a solution. Intelligent and entertaining, Pinkerton offers some fodder for policy wonks, although his ideas do not amount to the promised conceptual sea change in our way of thinking about government.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1995
ISBN: 0-7868-6105-3
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995


by John D. DeSain