The Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive Movements Can Restore Democracy in America

By Brian D’Agostino | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The Attack on Goverment

INTRODUCTION

There are two aspects of conservative ideology that go beyond my previous discussion of individualism versus collectivism. The first is the notion that government, whatever good it may achieve, is for the most part parasitic on the private sector economy and imposes arbitrary rules on it that interfere with the production of wealth. Further, politicians seeking their own power and unconstrained by the exigencies of earning profits in the competitive marketplace will expand this parasitic institution without limit if permitted to do so (Beck 2010). Second, and related to the above, conservatives argue that government expropriates wealth that successful individuals have earned through hard work, talent, and frugality and redistributes it to others who have no legitimate claim to it (Nozick 1974; Santelli 2009).1

Given this view that government undermines both prosperity and justice, the problem is not merely to fund it in a responsible way but to

1. In fact, government, from its Neolithic origins to the present, has indeed been paid for through the extraction of wealth from those who produce it (Mandel 1982). Conservatives, however, ignore the fact that the accumulation of wealth in the private sector is based on a similar expropriation, as will be discussed later in this chapter. Thus, to the extent that government taxes the rich and uses that wealth to provide public goods for the entire population, it is returning to the common people some of the wealth that was taken from them by the rich (Adler 2010). Further, when it corrects market distortions and provides infrastructure and other public investments, government plays a positive role in the creation of wealth. Ironically, the most parasitic part of government is the national security state idealized by conservatives, which is paid for primarily by middle-class taxpayers but provides them virtually nothing of value in return, as discussed in Chapter 1.

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The Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive Movements Can Restore Democracy in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I- How the Rich Rule 1
  • Chapter 1- The National Security Scam 3
  • Chapter 2- The Attack on Wages and Benifits 29
  • Chapter 3- School Reform and Other Diversions 55
  • Chapter 4- The Attack on Goverment 83
  • Part II- A New Progressive Agenda 95
  • Chapter 5- Government for the People 97
  • Chapter 6- Markets without Capitalism 129
  • Chapter 7- Unleashing Minds and Brains 143
  • Chapter 8- Renewing Democracy 159
  • Appendix Psychology of Radical Right 169
  • Bibliography 177
  • Index 197
  • About the Author 205
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