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Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  48 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Since the beginning of the New Deal, American liberals have insisted that the government must do more—much more—to help the poor, to increase economic security, to promote social justice and solidarity, to reduce inequality, and to mitigate the harshness of capitalism. Nonetheless, liberals have never answered, or even acknowledged, the corresponding question: What would b ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Encounter Books (first published April 20th 2010)
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Voegeli is a conservative but not a strident one. He describes the balance, a see-saw, of ever-increasing demands for more benefits which must be balanced against revenue. His main thesis is that benefit levels always rise, even under conservative administrations, which may only serve to restrain the rate of growth. Increasing benefits is hindered if taxes must be raised substantially, but there have been prosperous eras when taxes were not much increased. The book is especially valuable for its ...more
The book is balanced despite its provocative title. His argument is that conservatives, specifically economic libertarians, need to reconcile themselves to the fact that voters have made it clear that they do not want Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid repealed. On the other hand, he says that liberals must define realistic limitations for not only these programs, but all social spending. The book is balanced because the author is equally critical of Republicans (e.g. George W. Bush) for all ...more
Nicholas Katopol
Well-researched and an interesting thesis (though perhaps not entirely original.) Voegeli is an intellectual, not a pundit, and as such that is the quality and tone of the writing throughout and I think even those who might shy away from this book for political reasons would be interested in a few of the insights within. One of those is that, yes, some of the lack of support for the welfare state springs from the sense that the aid is not going to "people like us" whereas, say Iceland, can have ...more
Samuel Weaver
After a stunning first few chapters outlining the flaws in the progressive mindset and political agenda, Voegeli goes on to present his idea of a solution. However the unfortunate truth is that Voegeli does not see the previous 200 pages of problems as an inherent flaw in liberalism, but merely a problem that the zeal of modern liberals has imposed upon itself, solvable by a glass of temperance. What a disappointment, particularly after such a perspicacious look at the issues during the first tw ...more
John Maniscalco
William Voegeli initially sought to write a book about what the ideal welfare state would look like - when the resources and scope of the welfare state would be a size in which liberals would be satisfied. He found out he couldn't write that book, because proponents of the welfare state will always argue for its growth.

In this brilliant critique of the welfare state, Voegelli finds that liberalism has no limiting principle nor an ideological goal that can ever be achieved. As a result, Americans
Jacob Stubbs
So, Voegeli is a really smart guy--he knows his political theory quite well, despite an interesting interpretation of the Federalist papers toward the beginning of the book. I did not check many of the stats, as I am more on the political theory side of things (as my professor teaching this book put it, "I only look for the narrative in the graphs... It's not in there"). Anyways, Voegeli does an excellent job critiquing the American social welfare state's politics. He thinks that it's "Never Eno ...more
Part history, part commentary, and part political strategy, I found this book to be a very engaging look at the country's welfare state. I rated this 4 stars relative not so much as an absolute rating against all books I've read, but relative to others in the genre. Although written by a conservative, I appreciated the perspective that neither side can realistically to reach their goals (stated or perceived). Voegeli includes a couple of dense sections of statistics -- GDP numbers, tax %, etc. - ...more
Samuel Weaver
Tremendous points during the first half of the book. He clearly understands the battle in ways many people don't. But then, inexplicably, he completely sells the shop in the last half to 1/3 of the book. Very disappointing. Great on theory, horrible on practice.

Recommended to mature thinkers only.
Lisa Tangen
phenomenal book on the chasm between conservatism and liberalism...liberals have no unifying philosophy except evolution - that we're all "getting better" as humans - they don't believe in timeless principles like inalienable rights...very readable book...exhaustive detail
Well written, but doesn't contain anything particularly original or insightful. Ultimately not as good as it could be because it offers neither solutions nor predictions. Might even be 3 stars.
penny roth
It is a history lesson and an eye opener.
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“Etymologically, "compassion" means to suffer together. "Together," however, is different from "identically." Compassion is not the same as selflessness, and not really the opposite of selfishness. Rather, it provides a basis for helping other people that is materially disinterested but emotionally self-regarding. As Rousseau wrote in Emile, "When the strength of an expansive soul makes me identify myself with my fellow, and I feel that I am, so to speak, in him, it is in order not to suffer that I do not want him to suffer. I am interested in him for love of myself..." Or, as Jean Bethke Elshtain has said, "Pity is about how deeply I can feel. And in order to feel this way, to experience the rush of my own pious reaction, I need victims the way an addict needs drugs.” 2 likes
“Does affirmative action place minority students in colleges where they're likely to fail while depriving other applicants of the chance to attend the most challenging schools where they are capable of succeeding? Does rent control drive up the cost of housing, depriving property owners of the same opportunity to profit as any other investor while driving down the quality and quantity of the housing stock? Do minimum wage laws reduce the number of entry-level jobs, making it harder to escape from poverty? Because compassion, by its nature, subordinates doing good to feeling good, these are questions the warm-hearted rarely pursue.” 1 likes
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