Logrolling, backscratching, and bargaining among special interests have for so long characterized our political scene that any underlying principles of government seem almost totally obscure. Rick Maybury, following the initiative of Robert Ringer's Restoring the American Dream, has attempted to resurrect the principles of individual liberty and limited government in Common Sense for the 1980s (Lansing, Mich.: Jefferson Publishing, 1981, 203 pp., n.p.). Written with a mass audience in mind, the book provides a personal and impassioned plea for essentially libertarian principles.
On a more scholarly note, the Social Affairs Unit, a research and educational group in England, has recently published three diverse studies criticizing the welfare state with a focus on Great Britain: Criminal Welfare on Trial, by Colin Brewer, et al.; Breaking the Spell of the Welfare State, by Digby Anderson, et al.; and The Pied Pipers of Education, by Antony Flew, et al. (London, 1981). Each of the studies analyzes the practical outcomes of government attempts at social engineering in the fields of criminal rehabilitation, social welfare, and education.
Looking at a different set of problems, but equally scholarly, is Edward Walter's The Immorality of Limiting Growth (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1981, $37.50, $10.95 paper), in which Walter invokes principles of classical liberalism to challenge the arguments of the "no-growth futurists." Another sort of challenge emerges in Abuse of Trust: A Report on Ralph Nader's Network (Chicago: Regnery/Gateway, 1982, 272 pp., $12.95) by Dan Burt. Burt has produced an incisive criticism of Ralph Nader and his "public interest" organizations.
Ending on a practical note, those interested in understanding the complexities of the federal budgetary process will find a comprehensive yet very readable tool in Stanley E. Collender's The Guide to the Federal Budget (Washington, D.C.: Northeast-Midwest Institute, 1982, 163 pp., $8.00 paper). Collender also publishes a semimonthly newsletter on congressional budget activities, the Federal Budget Report, that may help untangle all the bits and pieces of news reaching us about the current budget debates. Another thorough analysis of the budget is provided by the Institute for Contemporary Studies in The Federal Budget: Economics and Politics, edited by Michael J. Boskin and Aaron Wildavsky (San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1982, 411 pp., $8.95 paper).
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Book Hints".