We Are Better Than This

We Are Better Than This

How Government Should Spend Our Money

Book - 2015
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"We Are Better Than This fundamentally reframes budget debates in the United States. Author Edward D. Kleinbard explains how the public's preoccupation with tax policy alone has obscured any understanding of government's ability to complement the private sector through investment and insurance programs that enhance the general welfare and prosperity of our society at large. He argues that when we choose how government should spend and tax, we open a window into our "fiscal soul," because those choices are the means by which we express the values we cherish and the regard in which we hold our fellow citizens. Though these values are being diminished by short-sighted decisions to starve government, strategic government spending can directly make citizens happier, healthier, and even wealthier. Expertly combining the latest economic research with his insider knowledge of the budget process into a simple yet compelling narrative, he unmasks the tax mythologies and false arguments that too often dominate contemporary discourse about budget policies. Large quantities of comparative data are succinctly distilled to situate the United States among its peer countries, so that readers can judge for themselves whether contemporary budget choices really reflect our aspirational fiscal soul. Kleinbard's presentation takes a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on economics, finance, law, political science and moral philosophy. He uniquely weaves economic research and moral philosophy together by emphasizing our welfare, not just our national income, and by contrasting the actual beliefs of Adam Smith, a great moral philosopher, with the cartoon version of the man presented by proponents of the most extreme forms of private market triumphalism"-- Provided by publisher.
"A book which examines how government - which is to say, all of us, acting collectively - can make our country healthier, wealthier and happier, if we put government to useful work in those areas where it most productively complements our private markets"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2015
ISBN: 9780199332243
Branch Call Number: 336.3909 KLEINBA
Characteristics: 509 pages ; 24 cm


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Aug 31, 2017

We Are Better Than This is not an easy read, but it is well worth the effort. Kleinbard backs up his assertions with copious data from the non-partisan U.S. sources like the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). For us English majors, that’s a whole lot of numbers, but if you stick with it, you see that he means what he says. The U.S. could accomplish right-sized spending for an accurately defined general welfare---that is, the happiness that the Constitution says we have the right to pursue. He explains how the U.S. could invest wisely and provide adequate social insurance, if we give up some misinformed ideas:
• “Market triumphalism” in which unfettered markets achieve optimum performance in all cases.
• “The Growth Fairy” that will reward lowered taxes on the affluent.
• Progressive taxation for its own sake; soak the rich.
• Nebulous tax expenditures that fly under the radar forever.
He makes the case for broadening the base, eliminating all-if-not-most deductions and credits, adopting Clinton era rates, and spending enough on education and infrastructure to make us the great nation we think we should be.


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