How big should government be? At what point will it exhaust its ability to solve the problems of society and individuals? Are today's citizens bankrupting future generations? Has "big government" taken on a life of its own, challenging self-government itself?
These and other questions are the subject of two books
Download Audio as MP3 that recount the nearly thirty-year fight to curb government growth: The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History (Cato Institute, 2010) by John Samples, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Representative Government, and Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State (Encounter Books, 2010) by William Voegeli, a contributing editor at the Claremont Review of Books.
Organized in conjunction with Steven F. Hayward, the F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at AEI, this book forum was the second in a series of events by AEI's American Citizenship program. The program is dedicated to strengthening the foundations of American freedom and self-government by renewing our understanding of American citizenship.
|8:30 a.m.||Registration and Breakfast|
|9:00||Introduction:||Steven F. Hayward, AEI
|9:10||Panel I: The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History|
|Presenter:||John Samples, Cato Institute|
|Discussants:||Jonathan Rauch, National Journal|
|Christopher DeMuth, AEI|
|Moderator:||Steven F. Hayward, AEI|
|10:30||Panel II: Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State|
|Presenter:||William Voegeli, Claremont Review of Books|
|Discussants:||Charles Murray, AEI|
|Fred Siegel, St. Francis College|
|Moderator:||Jonah Goldberg, AEI|
American Enterprise Institute
WASHINGTON, JUNE 24, 2010--As concerns mount over government spending and the national debt, a group of authors and experts gathered at AEI Thursday to discuss two new books about the fight to shrink government. John Samples, author of The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History, outlined the rise of Big Government since the Progressive era and the unsuccessful campaign by conservatives to restore limited government. Christopher DeMuth (AEI) and Jonathan Rauch (National Journal) both spoke about the failure of supply-side conservatism and contended that tax cuts, in the absence of spending cuts, only make government spending appear more affordable, and thus more popular. William Voegeli, author of Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State, argued that conservatives should unite with neoliberals around the principle of limited government growth. Fred Siegel, a writer and self-professed "recovering liberal," agreed and gave an account of the disastrous fiscal situation of his home state, New York. Charles Murray (AEI) discussed the importance of the four institutions--family, community, faith, and vocation--in citizens' lives and how a return to the principles of limited government could strengthen and renew those domains.
- "The welfare state is not just a dependent variable; it has become an independent variable. . . . Voters have come to a point where they have a strong sense of entitlement. And that sense of entitlement drives the growth of the state."
--John Samples, Author, The Struggle to Limit Government
- "It's not just that government and politics have changed since the pre-Roosevelt era, society has changed. [John] Samples argues that the subsidy state has in many ways corrupted American society and culture by getting them hooked on subsidies . . . but I think it's at least as true and even more important that the causality goes in the other direction as well. . . . The subsidy state is a consequence of freedom, not a threat to it."
--Jonathan Rauch, National Journal
- "The question is whether and how conservatives can take in homeless neoliberalism. . . . I think it's time for conservatives to consider giving neoliberalism a home. Not out of pity, but in pursuit of our political and patriotic agenda."
Christopher DeMuth is the D. C. Searle Senior Fellow at AEI. He was president of AEI from December 1986 through December 2008. Previously, he was administrator for information and regulatory affairs in the Office of Management and Budget and executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief in the Reagan administration; taught economics, law, and regulatory policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; practiced regulatory, antitrust, and general corporate law; and worked on urban and environmental policy in the Nixon White House.
Jonah Goldberg is a visiting fellow at AEI and editor at large of National Review Online. His first book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Doubleday, 2008), was a number one New York Times and Amazon bestseller and Amazon readers selected it as the number one history book of 2008. He is a member of the board of contributors for USA Today, and he previously served as a columnist for the Times of London, Brill's Content, and The American Enterprise. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Commentary, The New Yorker, and numerous other publications.
Steven F. Hayward is the F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at AEI. He writes on a wide range of public policy issues. He is the coauthor of the annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators; the producer and host of An Inconvenient Truth . . . or Convenient Fiction? a rebuttal to Al Gore's documentary; and the author of many books on environmental topics. He has written biographies of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and of Winston Churchill. Mr. Hayward is also a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.
Charles Murray, the W. H. Brady Scholar at AEI, is a political scientist and author. He first came to national attention with the publication of Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980 (Basic Books, 1984), which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. His 1994 New York Times bestseller, The Bell Curve (Free Press), coauthored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America's class structure. His latest book, Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality (Crown Forum, 2008), provides a framework for rethinking what parents should demand from an educational system.
Jonathan Rauch, a senior writer for National Journal magazine and a contributing editor of The Atlantic, is the author of several books and many articles on public policy, culture, and economics. He is also a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. He is winner of the 2005 National Magazine Award for columns and commentary and the 2010 National Headliner Award for magazine columns. Among the many publications for which he has written are the New Republic, The Economist, Reason, Harper's, Fortune, Reader's Digest, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. His latest book is Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America (Times Books, 2004).
John Samples directs the Cato Institute's Center for Representative Government, which studies campaign finance regulation, delegation of legislative authority, term limits, and the political culture of limited government and the civic virtues necessary for liberty. He is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Samples is the author of The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History (Cato Institute, 2010) and The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform (University of Chicago, 2006). Prior to joining Cato, Mr. Samples served eight years as director of Georgetown University Press, and before that, as vice president of the Twentieth Century Fund. He has published scholarly articles in Society, History of Political Thought, and Telos. Mr. Samples has also been featured in mainstream publications like USA Today, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. He has appeared on National Public Radio, Fox News, and MSNBC.
Fred Siegel is the author, most recently, of The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life (Encounter Books, 2005). His previous book, The Future Once Happened Here: New York, D.C., L.A. and the Fate of America's Big Cities (Encounter Books, 2000), was named by Peter Jennings as one of the one hundred most important books about the United States in the twentieth century. Mr. Siegel, who has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and has taught at the Sorbonne in Paris, is also a former senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington. Currently on leave from the Cooper Union for Science and Art, he is now a visiting professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. In addition to two earlier books, he has written widely on American and European politics. He is currently writing a book tentatively titled The Inner Life of American Liberalism.
William Voegeli, the author of Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State (Encounter Books, 2010), is a contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books. His articles and reviews have also appeared in City Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The New Criterion, National Review, and other publications. From 1988 to 2003, Mr. Voegeli was a program officer for the John M. Olin Foundation, which provided financial support to conservative think tanks and publications.