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The Case for Big Government

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  41 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Political conservatives have long believed that the best government is a small government. But if this were true, noted economist Jeff Madrick argues, the nation would not be experiencing stagnant wages, rising health care costs, increasing unemployment, and concentrations of wealth for a narrow elite. In this perceptive and eye-opening book, Madrick proves that an engaged ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published February 8th 2010 by Princeton University Press (first published October 6th 2008)
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It has taken me several months to read this book, not because it's poorly written, or because it's not interesting: it is both. The problem is, when I read economics, my eyes glaze over. Economics is incredibly foundational for understanding damn near anything that's been happening in America over the past three years (or the past three hundred years), so I try to be well-read in this area...but it is frigging painful for me.

I picked up this book because it was well-reviewed, and I heard it ref
Nov 04, 2009 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jeff Madrick sets out in this book to make -- you guessed it -- the case for big government. Madrick seems to have an acute sense of where Americans as a nation are headed, and the changes we need to make socially and culturally to set ourselves up for future success. One of his most intriguing discussions concerns the shift from luxury to necessity of technological devices such as phones, medicine, and even cars. He never quite seems to arrive at the point of really making a case for big govern ...more
Jacob Stubbs
So, I was assigned this for my Public Policy class. It was somewhat interesting and offered a different perspective, something of which I don't get too often in this subject at my school. Madrick certainly reports the facts well, Social Security is going bankrupt, Healthcare costs are rising, Men are becoming disaffected in the modern world, America is starting to be defined by classes (or "tribes" if you want to get all David Brooks on the subject), etc. Madrick offers a history that many liber ...more
Elaine Nelson
I'm just going to quote Obama's speech of Feb 24 2009:

"History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to
Chris Aylott
Guess what? Taxes may be good for you. At least they might be, spent proactively by a well-run and reasonably honest government.

Madrick makes a convincing, statistics-driven argument the last thirty years of laissez-faire government have been an earnings disaster for anyone not in the top 1% of wealthy Americans -- that health care costs and educational costs are spiraling out of control while there has been almost no gain in wages. What's interesting, though, is he treats the last thirty years
Jason Knoll
Aug 22, 2012 Jason Knoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madrick provides a compelling case for an increase in government spending and oversight. While the first two "Parts" of the book give the reader a brief history of the subject, it's the third, and final, "Part" that should receive the most attention. Titled, "What to Do," Madrick lays out an agenda for future government spending and regulation. I happen to agree with most, if not all, of Madrick's assertions. His argument that the US government needs to spend more on education was spot on as was ...more
Dave Golombek
Feb 15, 2009 Dave Golombek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madrick is clearly writing this book to help start the fledgling reaction against the conservative movement of the last 25 years, trying to add intellectual clout to the ground surge against the republican mindset. He takes on a lot of the core ideas of the conservative ideology, showing how little basis they have in economic history. Clearly, economics on both sides of the aisle are heavily influenced by the politics of the researcher, and I'm sure that some of Madrick's numbers are as fuzzy as ...more
Paul Frandano
A brief book in three parts: a useful, if somewhat hectoring, thumbnail history of the many ways US government spending has advanced overall well-being and generated economic growth, from the founding days to the present; a helpful debater's cheat sheet - with numerous citations - in responding tit-for-tat to the arguments of those who would make the opposite case; and a set of remedial recommendations that seldom transcends the category of "tired Liberal bromide" and, with Madrick's cost estima ...more
Jan 12, 2015 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There is a good case to be made for big government, but unfortunately this book doesn't make it. Instead it rambles without direction or focus through America history and stagnating wages without discussing why this is the case or why government is the solution. All it does is list of economic problems without explaining why they occur or why increasing the size of the government will make things better.
Oct 18, 2009 Mary rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted so badly to finish this book, but it was way too densely written and his thoughts were not organized in a way that made sense to the reader.
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Chad Kulas
May 09, 2010 Chad Kulas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made much more sense than Goldwater's.
Andres rated it liked it
Mar 14, 2009
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