America's Hidden Success: A Reassessment of Public Policy from Kennedy to Reagan

America's Hidden Success: A Reassessment of Public Policy from Kennedy to Reagan

America's Hidden Success: A Reassessment of Public Policy from Kennedy to Reagan

America's Hidden Success: A Reassessment of Public Policy from Kennedy to Reagan

Excerpt

In one fashion or another the past has a way of intruding on the present and the future. This is what must happen, for as Alexis de Tocqueville explained in his Democracy in America, when "the past has ceased to cast its light upon the present and the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity." Yet exactly how past experience will influence us necessarily depends on the understanding we have of that experience. Since this is so, our understanding of the past requires close and continuing scrutiny to ascertain whether it correctly reflects the actuality of the past or some mistaken set of stereotypes and myths.

History, of course, is vast, so that virtually all of its topics embrace a great range of possibilities. Such is the case with the topic of this book, which centers on whether our perceptions of the performances of our government and economy over the past three decades accord with the reality. I do not claim to cover the whole field. My focus instead is on a series of widely accepted impressions of the inadequacies of the gov-

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