Magazine article Ideas on Liberty

U.S. by the Numbers: Figuring What's Left, Right, and Wrong with America State by State

Magazine article Ideas on Liberty

U.S. by the Numbers: Figuring What's Left, Right, and Wrong with America State by State

Article excerpt

U.S. by the Numbers: Figuring What's Left, Right, and Wrong with America State by State

by Raymond J. Keating and Thomas N. Edmonds

Capital Books * 2000 * 960 pages * $35.00

Reviewed by William H. Peterson

An Entrepreneurial Revolution. This is the watchword-guidepost here of Mr. Keating, chief economist of the Washington D.C.based Small Business Survival Committee, and Mr. Edmonds, a political media consultant and coauthor with Mr. Keating of their successful 1995 book, D.C. by the Numbers: A State of Failure.

To be sure, the Entrepreneurial Revolution sought by the authors has not been exactly dormant in America over the years, with the United States enjoying the world's highest gross domestic product per capita. But entrepreneurship is certainly in a beleaguered state today as the country continues to grapple with the inner contradictions of the welfare state. It is those contradictions-a power struggle between the public and private sectors-that are confronted and tracked numerically by the Keating-Edmonds team both for the nation (in 71 pages) and for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia (in 865 pages).

Nationally, the authors note a trend of government-spending increases that far outpace population growth. In other words, they see the public sector-the coercive government sector-swelling, while the voluntary sector of society shrinks, at least relatively. To wit:

From 1960 to 1997, total real government revenues-federal, state, and local-increased by 289 percent, so that government in the United States eats up today more than 31 percent of the GDP

From 1960 to 1999, real federal payroll tax revenues increased by an estimated 614 percent.

From 1960 to 1999, real federal revenues increased by an estimated 236 percent, accounting for about two-thirds of the total government take, including some $250 billion in annual federal grants to state and localities.

Those grants are usually on a 50-50 costsharing basis for projects favored by Washington, a trend that does not bode well for federalism or whatever is left of states' rights.

For example, the authors observe that in America's welfare state (and because of welfare-state support of unwed mothers? …

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