We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money

We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money

by Edward D. Kleinbard


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190496685
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 544
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Edward D. Kleinbard is the Johnson Professor of Law and Business at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law and a Fellow at The Century Foundation. Prior to these appointments, Professor Kleinbard served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan tax resource to Congress.

Table of Contents


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

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

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

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