Since the beginning of the New Deal, American liberals have insisted that the government must do moremuch moreto help the poor, to increase economic security, to promote social justice and solidarity, to reduce inequality, and to mitigate the harshness of capitalism. Nonetheless, liberals have never answered, or even acknowledged, the corresponding question: What would be the size and nature of a welfare state that was not contemptibly austere, that did not urgently need new programs, bigger budgets, and a broader mandate? Even though the federal government’s outlays have doubled every eighteen years since 1940, liberal rhetoric is always addressed to a nation trapped in Groundhog Day, where every year is 1932, and none of the existing welfare state programs that spend tens of billions of dollars matter, or even exist.
Never Enough explores the roots and consequences of liberals’ aphasia about the welfare state’s ultimate size. It assesses what liberalism’s lack of a limiting principle says about the long-running argument between liberals and conservatives, and about the policy choices confronting America in a new century. Never Enough argues that the failure to speak clearly and candidly about the welfare state’s limits has grave policy consequences. The worst result, however, is the way it has jeopardized the experiment in self-government by encouraging Americans to regard their government as a vehicle for exploiting their fellow-citizens, rather than as a compact for respecting one another’s rights and safeguarding the opportunities of future generations.
William Voegeli is a visiting scholar at the Henry Salvatori Center at Claremont McKenna College, and a contributing editor to the Claremont Review of Books. His reviews and articles have also appeared in City Journal, First Things, In Character, the Los Angeles Times, National Review, and The New Criterion. From 1988 to 2003 he was a program officer at the John M. Olin Foundation. He lives in Claremont, CA.
William Voegeli has taken up conservatism’s primal mission deconstructing the liberal welfare state from a fresh perspective, understanding that the liberal project is unbound by limiting goals. This understanding, in turn, allows for real insight into why conservatism never has, and likely never will, succeed in rolling back government. Never Enough is a penetrating piece of analysis, and a most valuable contribution to the political conversation.”
Peter J. Boyer, Staff writer for The New Yorker since 1992
"Bill Voegeli's insightful and well crafted book explains why Americans are at once dissatisfied with their welfare state yet apparently willing to see it grow without limit, and also why the long running debate between liberals and conservatives over the welfare state has produced ever more confusion about who should benefit and who should pay for government programs. Voegeli, however, manages to frame this argument in a new way and to show how liberals and conservatives can get beyond their fruitless debates in order to place the American welfare state on a more effective and affordable footing. Never Enough is that rare book that makes a new contribution to an old debate and has something important to say to both liberals and conservatives."
James Piereson, President of the William E. Simon Foundation and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute
William Voegeli may be the most valuable, engaging and original critic of liberalism writing today. I have been waiting for him to write this book for years. No serious student of contemporary political life will regret their investment in this profound yet eminently accessible work. Never Enough answers questions most people struggle even to articulate.”
Jonah Goldberg, Author of Liberal Fascism
Never Enough is a nonpolemical critique of progressive, conservative, and libertarian visions of the welfare state: always more,’ always less,’ and none at all.’ Contending that all three are untenable, William Voegeli offers a highly informative and lucid account of the political and ideological struggles that led to and perpetuate our current unsustainable welfare policies. Beware: whether or not you buy his Pax Voegeli’ compromise, this book will compel you to clarify and wrestle with your own vision of the welfare state.”
Randy E. Barnett, Author of Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty
’Every problem deserves a program’: this is a driving liberal impulse that has exponentially increased the size and scope of government, giving rise to the never-enough, prosperity stifling state. In this new book, which channels the realistic spirit of Irving Kristol, William Voegeli argues that the welfare state isn't going to wither away but we can make it leaner, more effective, and less kleptocratic. An essential work in the development of a twenty-first century conservatism.
Brian C. Anderson, Editor, City Journal; author of South Park Conservatives
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