FOUR REFORMS by William F. Buckley Jr.


A Guide for the Seventies
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No doubt about it, in this age of Watergate and the tainted Executive, Bill Buckley's general "antistatist" orientation and the dream of deflating the operations of the federal government seem a lot more appealing than ia the mid-'60's when the liberal faith in the benevolent megastate was boundless. And yet, this small (though hardly modest) proposal for revamping the "procedures" of government intervention in welfare, taxation, justice and education, disappointingly tums out to be a hackneyed reiteration of the nostrums of the National Review. Well, hot entirely: perhaps there is good sense in the proposal to limit the Executive to a single six year term; and Buckley's plan to conscript the nation's 18-year-olds in the year between high school and college matriculation to perform nonprofessional services in hospitals and nursing homes for the aged is certainly ingenious, possibly even workable. And who could disagree with the plea to introduce tax reforms "aimed at coherence, symmetry, and an end to hallucination?" It is only when he spells out the substance of what he has ia mind that one recoils: nothing less than a straight across-the-boards regressive 15% income tax on everyone, rich and poor with all corporation taxes on GM, Ford, ITT, etc., to be abolished entirely! And how dreary to read yet again the inevitable attack on the Warren Court with its "overelaboration of the rights of the defendant" -- as though that were the only reason for clogged court calendars, plea bargaining and rising crime rates. Egads -- in the name of locking up more hard-core criminals he even wants to repeal the Fifth Amendment. Inevitably, Buckley's glib pomposity and witty elitism will appeal to his usual constituency. Based on a series of lectures at Russell Sage College, this is to be condensed in the February 1974 issue of Harper's Magazine.
Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1973
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1973


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