From the days of George Washington through World War II to today, government subsidies have failed dismally argue Burt and Anita Folsom. Draining the Treasury of cash, they impede economic growth, and hurt the very companies receiving aid.
Why does federal aid seem to have a reverse Midas touch? As the Folsoms reveal, federal officials don't have the same abilities or incentives as entrepreneurs. In addition, federal control always equals political control of some kind. What is best for politicians is not often what works in the marketplace. Politicians want to win votes, and they can do so by giving targeted CEOs benefits while dispersing costs to others.
Filled with examples of government failures and free market triumphs, from John Jacob Astor to the Wright Brothers, World War II amphibious landing craft to Detroit, Uncle Sam Can't Count is a hard-hitting critique of government investment that demonstrates why business should be left exclusively to private entrepreneurs.
Mixing lively narrative with fresh views of America's founders, William Hogeland offers a new perspective on America's economic infancy: foreclosure crises that make our current one look mild; investment bubbles in land and securities that drove rich men to high-risk borrowing and mad displays of ostentation before dropping them into debtors' prisons; depressions longer and deeper than the great one of the twentieth century; crony mercantilism, war profiteering, and government corruption that undermine any nostalgia for a virtuous early republic; and predatory lending of scarce cash at exorbitant, unregulated rates, which forced people into bankruptcy, landlessness, and working in the factories and on the commercial farms of their creditors. This story exposes and corrects a perpetual historical denial—by movements across the political spectrum—of America's all-important founding economic clashes, a denial that weakens and cheapens public discourse on American finance just when we need it most.
Wright argues that the Colonial rebellion was in part sparked by destabilizing British monetary policy that threatened many with financial insolvency; that in areas without modern financial institutions and practices, dueling was a rational means of protecting one's creditworthiness; that the principle-agent problem led to the institutionalization of the U.S. Constitution's system of checks and balances; and that a lack of information and education induced women to shift from active business owners to passive investors. Economists, historians, and political scientists alike will be interested in this strikingly novel and compelling recasting of our nation's formative decades.
Larry Jones and Jerry McCaffery place Wildavsky's work within the context of previous work on budgeting. They show how some of the highlights of his immense output responded to and shaped questions in the field. Naomi Caiden reviews the way in which Wildavsky used budgeting as a window into other areas of politics. Richard Rose discusses how an American scholar became an internationally known one. Joseph White goes back to the beginning of Aaron's career and shows that budgeting in agencies and in Congress is still incremental for very powerful reasons. Allen Schick reviews the history of the federal budget process, brilliantly summarizing how much has changed.
The "festschrift" poignantly assesses the significance and influence of Aaron Wildavsky's work. It also includes some excerpts from Wildavsky's own writings in this area, and experiences of those who collaborated with him. In acknowledging Wildavsky's contributions to public budgeting and political science, this book also makes an original contribution to the field. It will be a necessary addition to the libraries of political scientists, economists, policymakers, not to mention all those who admired Aaron Wildavsky and his work.