DOING BUSINESS IN WASHINGTON: How to Win Friends and Influence Government by

DOING BUSINESS IN WASHINGTON: How to Win Friends and Influence Government

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Two books in one: a standard nco-conservative analysis of why government over-regulation is the source of the country's economic problems; and, within it, a how-to-do-it book for businessmen who want to learn just how to move the levers of government. The political primer is an undistinguished and largely unexceptionable account of how to lobby congressional staffs, impose your viewpoint on legislative hearings, influence bills, and joust with the federal administrative and regulatory agencies. To an extent it can stand on its own; but the analysis on which it is based in both deeply flawed and dated. Relying heavily on materials from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, the authors argue (as have many others) that ""a massive shift from market to political decision making has overtaken the American economy."" This shift has purportedly made businessmen the helpless victims of anti-business bureaucrats and egalitarian ideologues who have wrecked the economy. Echoing Irving Kristol, Fox and Schnitzer insist that it's time for businessmen to fight back, and get involved in politics. There are two striking problems with their argument. First, as more than one historian has demonstrated, businessmen have long been heavily involved in government. The vicious cycle whereby government regulation leads to the increased political involvement of business and then further regulation was begun by business itself when, at the turn of the century, it turned to government for relief from what it saw as excessive competition and disorder in the market place. Secondly, the authors seem unaware of the recent spate of books and articles which suggest that many of our economic problems are due to the short-term, high-return outlook of American executives--as contrasted with the long-term, increased-productivity orientation of some of our foreign competitors. In sum, a period-piece pastiche of late Seventies ideas and routine hints which has been badly dated, in particular, by the arrival of the Reagan presidency.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1981
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan