ISBN : 9780199332243
We Are Better Than This fundamentally reframes budget debates in the United States. Author Edward D. Kleinbard explains how the public's preoccupation with tax policy alone has obscured any understanding of government's ability to complement the private sector through investment and insurance programs that enhance the general welfare and prosperity of our society at large. He argues that when we choose how government should spend and tax, we open a window into our "fiscal soul," because those choices are the means by which we express the values we cherish and the regard in which we hold our fellow citizens. Though these values are being diminished by short-sighted decisions to starve government, strategic government spending can directly make citizens happier, healthier, and even wealthier. Expertly combining the latest economic research with his insider knowledge of the budget process into a simple yet compelling narrative, he unmasks the tax mythologies and false arguments that too often dominate contemporary discourse about budget policies. Large quantities of comparative data are succinctly distilled to situate the United States among its peer countries, so that readers can judge for themselves whether contemporary budget choices really reflect our aspirational fiscal soul. Kleinbard's presentation takes a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on economics, finance, law, political science and moral philosophy. He uniquely weaves economic research and moral philosophy together by emphasizing our welfare, not just our national income, and by contrasting the actual beliefs of Adam Smith, a great moral philosopher, with the cartoon version of the man presented by proponents of the most extreme forms of private market triumphalism.
PART I: OUR FISCAL SOUL IN PERIL
Chapter 1: The Happiness of Society
Chapter 2: Our Descent from Moral Philosophy to Narcissism
Chapter 3: Our Dismal Report Card
Chapter 4: Inequality Defenders, Deniers and Dissemblers
Chapter 5: The Growth Fairy
PART II: STARVING OUR FISCAL SOUL
Chapter 6: An Overweight Government?
Chapter 7: Are High Taxes Killing Us?
Chapter 8: The Hidden Hand of Government Spending
Chapter 9: A Field Guide to False Fiscal Crises
PART III: RECLAIMING OUR FISCAL SOUL
Chapter 10: Government Investment
Chapter 11: Government As Insurer
Chapter 12: From Progressive Tax to Progressive Fiscal System
Chapter 13: The Better Base Case
Chapter 14: Conclusion: We Are Better Than This