Summary of We Are Better Than This

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Professor Edward D. Kleinbard offers a comprehensive, bold and authoritative look at the role of government spending and what it means in shaping values in a democratic society. This rare scholarly analysis covers the fascinating but complex world of public policy, taxation and federal spending and its impact on American democracy. Kleinbard refutes enthusiasm about free-market capitalism by showing the economic benefits of social welfare and progressive taxation. Calling on his extensive experience running a nonpartisan US Congressional tax office, he compares the social and fiscal successes that other developed nations have achieved to the failures of US policy and politics. He focuses on the busy intersection of politics, social insurance, taxation and ideology. His incisive analysis, buttressed by 80 charts and tables, is hardly easy reading, but it proves highly rewarding. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends Kleinbard’s formidable treatise to anyone concerned about taxation and government spending.

About the Author

Edward D. Kleinbard teaches law and business at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. He served as chief of staff of the US Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s nonpartisan tax information resource.



Spending and Taxation

Managing fiscal policy – the process of government spending and taxation – proves the defining test for every democracy. Government spending transcends economics and involves social and moral policy questions that have vexed philosophers since Aristotle.

Taxing and spending intertwine in the United States’ contentious political environment. The current myopic focus on taxation ignores the more important question of how spending should direct and determine nationally strategic social priorities. This issue focuses the debate on government’s role and not on less important questions about the design of the tax system. An ideal government serves all its citizens while accepting that Big Business is not the enemy and that the personal aspiration to achieve wealth is a beneficial drive.

Improving Public Spirit

A common misperception defines government’s main role as protecting people’s ability to acquire wealth. A byproduct of this belief is that any form of taxation is a state invasion into personal liberties. This neglects the pursuit of the common good and the freedom to pursue opportunities.

Government can provide certain services...

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