Sunday, December 09, 2007

Death and shopping

We must read [this book] in the context of a far broader American failing: we no longer expect the government to do its job...We have entered an age of incompetence and drastically lowered expectations. In this context, individualistic, consumerist responses actually make sense, at least as a last resort - and that is what's truly scary.

-- from a review by Chris Mooney of Shopping Our Way to Safety by Andrew Szasz

The real impact of privatization, like welfare reform, deregulation, the technological revolution, and indeed globalization itself, has been to reduce the role of the state in the affairs of its citizens: to get the state "off our backs" and "out of our lives"—a common objective of economic "reformers" everywhere—and make public policy, in Robert Reich's approving words, "business-friendly." The twentieth-century state in its "soul-engineering" guise has surely left a bad taste. It was often inefficient, sometimes repressive, occasionally genocidal. But in reducing (and implicitly discrediting) the state, in forsaking public interest for private advantage wherever possible, we have also devalued those goods and services that represent the collectivity and its shared purposes, steadily "reducing the incentive for competent and ambitious persons to join or stay in state service." And this carries a very considerable risk.

-- from a review by Tony Judt of Supercapitalism by Robert Reich

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