"REVOLUTION AT THE ROOTS: Making Our Government Smaller, Better, and Closer to Home" by William D. & John O'Leary Eggers

"REVOLUTION AT THE ROOTS: Making Our Government Smaller, Better, and Closer to Home"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Reason Foundation fellows Eggers and O'Leary argue that government should be downsized and its energies redirected. ""Beyond the Beltway, in the towns, cities, and states of America. . ."" Here we go again. Eggers and O'Leary state that government tries to do too much, and they look to the more successful anti-diversification model that has evolved in the corporate world--where companies won't introduce a new product if they don't think it will produce more value than it consumes. But after this brief synopsis of their basic attitude, the authors rely on extensive anecdotal evidence to make their point, offering little context or analysis. The cases feature some of our country's most interesting rising political stars, such as Massachusetts governor William Weld and New Jersey governor Christine Whitman, as examples of positive influences in government. But it's the horror stories that the authors focus on. Yes, the government owns vast quantities of helium, which it keeps in the desert and sells to the Navy at above market value. Yes, under the Supplemental Security Income program, drug dependency is considered a disability, and entitles you to more money. However, 200 pages along, the authors declare themselves paralytic, not catalytic. There they pose the question, ""How do you provide government assistance without creating dependence?"" ""The short answer,"" they tell us glibly, ""is, no one knows. We certainly don't."" At this point taking Eggers and O'Leary seriously as agents for change becomes difficult. So while this book might outrage those in agreement--well, anybody--or sway an uninformed readership, it is behind the curve: Voters are already disgusted; it's time for substantive suggestions, not more anecdotes. An impressive amassing of case histories, both horrifying and inspirational, resulting in a book that's breezy, sanctimonious, and dull.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1995
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Free Press