The Myth of the Welfare State

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Transaction Publishers, 1989 M01 1 - 505 pages

The Myth of the Welfare Stale is a basic and sweeping explanation of the rise and fall of great powers, and of the profound impacts of these megastates on ordinary lives. Its central theme is the rise of bureaucratic collectivization in American society. It is Douglas's conviction, which he supports with a wealth of detail, that statist bureaucracies produce siagnation, often exacerbated by inflation, which in turn produces the waning of state power.

Douglas has his own set of "isms" that require concerted attention: mass mediated rationalism, scientism, technologism, credentialism, and expertism. People who make policies have little, if any, awareness of the actual way social processes evolve: agricultural policy is set by people who know little of farming, arid manufacturing policy is set by people who have never set foot on a factory floor. In light of this "soaring average ignorance," it is little wonder that policy-making has Alice-in-Wonderland characteristics and effects.

Douglas sees the notion of a welfare state as a contradiction in terms; its widespread insinuation into the culture is made possible by its weak mythological form and benign-sounding characteristics. In fact, welfare states in whatever form they appear have failed in their purpose: to redistribute income or increase real wealth. The megastates are the source of social instability and economic downturn. They grow like a tidal drift. They start out to correct the historical grievances of the laissez-faire states, only to increase the problems they seek to correct. In this, the welfare state is a weakened form of the totalitarian state, producing similarly unhappy results.

Professor Douglas has produced a work of "anti-policy" - arguing that freedom leavened by an ordinary sense of self-interest and social concern can overcome the shortfalls of the megastates and their myth-making, self-serving, propensities.

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Selected pages


The American Megastate
The Essential Roots of Welfare Statism
The Ancient Dawn of Welfare Statism
The Drift into the Modernist Megastates
The Power of Political Myths
The Explosion of Modernist Millennialism
Rationalism and Scientism versus Human Nature
The Informational Pathologies Inherent in Bureaucracy
Freedom Works
The Ancient Model of Tyranny
American Political Labels
Theories of the Origins of the Democratic Welfare State
Emanationist Rationalism and the Rise of Secular Millennialism

Central Planning versus Individual Planning

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Page 8 - Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
Page 8 - Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties; and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness, and courage to be the secret of liberty.
Page 1 - It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they -C. are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.

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