To Promote the General Welfare: The Case for Big Government

ISBN : 9780199858552

Steven Conn
256 ページ
145 x 208 mm

Americans love to hate their government, and a long tradition of anti-government suspicion reaches back to debates among the founders of the nation. But the election of Barack Obama has created a backlash rivaled only by the anti-government hysteria that preceded the Civil War. Lost in all the Tea Party rage and rhetoric is this simple fact: the federal government plays a central role in making our society function, and it always has. Edited by Steven Conn and written by some of America's leading scholars, the essays in To Promote the General Welfare explore the many ways government programs have improved the quality of life in America. The essays cover everything from education, communication, and transportation to arts and culture, housing, finance, and public health. They explore how and why government programs originated, how they have worked and changed-and been challenged-since their inception, and why many of them are important to preserve. The book shows how the WPA provided vital, in some cases career-saving, assistance to artists and writers like Jackson Pollock, Dorothea Lange, Richard Wright, John Cheever, and scores of others; how millions of students from diverse backgrounds have benefited and continue to benefit from the G.I. Bill, Fulbright scholarships, and federally insured student loans; and how the federal government created an Interstate highway system unparalleled in the world, linking the entire nation. These are just a few examples of highly successful programs the book celebrates-and that anti-government critics typically ignore. For anyone wishing to explore the flip side of today's vehement attacks on American government, To Promote the General Welfare is the best place to start.


Chapter 1: Looking for Government in All the Wrong Places
Brian Balogh
Chapter 2: From Franklin to Facebook: The Civic Mandate for American Communications
Richard R. John
Chapter 3: "Roads Will Everywhere Be Shortened": Transportation and the Uniting of the Nation
Zachary M. Schrag
Chapter 4: Banking on Government: The Federal Role in Credit, Finance and Banking
Michael S. Barr
Chapter 5: One Third of a Nation: Big Government and the Search for Security
Kevin Boyle
Chapter 6: How the Federal Government Built the American Dream
Thomas J. Sugrue
Chapter 7: From Hook Worm to HIV: Solving the Nation's Number One Health Problem(s)
Karen Kruse Thomas
Chapter 8: Uncle Sam at the Blackboard: The Federal Government and American Education
Jon Zimmerman
Chapter 9: Art and Culture in the Public Interest
Steven Conn
Chapter 10: Government's Greatest Hits in Peril
Paul C. Light


Steven Conn is Professor and Director of Public History at Ohio State University. His books include Do Museums Still Need Objects?, Metropolitan Philadelphia: Living with the Presence of the Past, and History's Shadow: Native Americans and Historical Consciousness in the Nineteenth Century. He is the founding editor of the online magazine Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective.