The False Promise of Big Government

How Washington Helps the Rich and Hurts the Poor

By Patrick M. Garry

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“In this bold and brilliant book, Patrick Garry takes on our overgrown government in the terms of its defenders: he systematically demolishes the argument that a larger government better serves the poor and vulnerable. It is simply essential reading.”
—YUVAL LEVIN, editor of National Affairs


In just 100 pages, this powerful book debunks the myth that only government can help the poor and working class survive; it shows that in fact big government often hurts the very people it purports to help while propping up the rich, powerful, and politically connected.

The False Promise of Big Government

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“In this bold and brilliant book, Patrick Garry takes on our overgrown government in the terms of its defenders: he systematically demolishes the argument that a larger government better serves the poor and vulnerable. It is simply essential reading.”
Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs, author of The Fractured Republic and The Great Debate

The debate over the size and scope of the federal government has raged since the New Deal. So why have opponents of big government so rarely made political headway? Because they fail to address the fundamental issue.

Patrick M. Garry changes that in this short, powerful book. Garry, a law professor and political commentator, reveals six ways in which big government hurts the very people it purports to help: the poor, the working class, and the middle class. And the problem is worse than that. He shows that big government actually props up the rich, the powerful, and the politically connected.

The False Promise of Big Government thus debunks a myth widely accepted in politics today: that only government can help the average person survive and prosper in the contemporary world. Garry demonstrates that opponents of big government rely on arguments that are true but fail to address the heart of the issue. Yes, massive government programs are wasteful and impose huge economic costs on America, and yes, many of them violate constitutional provisions. But in focusing on economic and constitutional arguments, proponents of limited government cede the moral high ground to progressives.

The truth is that those who claim to speak for the “little guy” actually push for policies that harm the most vulnerable in society. And it is just as true that proponents of limited government don't ignore the working and middle classes but in fact are trying to free those individuals from a government that acts against their interests.

In just one hundred pages, The False Promise of Big Government lays out everything you need to know about why big government fails and how to overcome it at last.

Additional Information

Pages 112
Publisher ISI Books
What They're Saying...

“Patrick Garry has a gift for making sophisticated ideas accessible to lawyers and nonlawyers alike. In The False Promise of Big Government, he brilliantly argues that big government rewards the rich and the powerful at the expense of the average person. This is an important book that should be widely read.”
Richard Duncan, professor of law at the University of Nebraska

“A powerful critique of the central premise behind most efforts to increase the size of government. Garry’s argument is full of surprising and sometimes shocking evidence. It is timely and uncompromising.”
Robert F. Nagel, Rothgerber Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado Law School

“Garry explodes the most treasured myth of the behemoth of modern American government—that whatever stray inefficiencies it may display, it at least benefits the poor. Not so, he lucidly shows. Contrary to the rhetoric that has advanced the expansion of government, the most egalitarian antipoverty program we could have is a drastic reduction in the size of government.”
Matthew J. Franck, director of the Witherspoon Institute’s Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution

“In this readable volume, Garry convincingly demonstrates that governmental regulations and programs too often reinforce the status quo and serve the interests of the wealthy and politically connected. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the role of government in American life today.”
James W. Ely Jr., professor emeritus of law and history at Vanderbilt University

“Garry provides a clear-eyed analysis of the myriad ways in which government programs designed to help the poor and struggling actually do far more harm than good. Both compelling and compassionate, The False Promise of Big Government offers a searing indictment of our current War on Poverty. One cannot read this book without believing that we can do better.”
Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute

“In this important and timely book, Patrick Garry shows that despite the persistence of faith in bigger government and more regulation to help the ‘little guy,’ it is typically the rich that reap the benefits of big government. Anyone interested in understanding how big government really works needs to read this book.”
Todd J. Zywicki, George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School

“Garry makes a compelling case that bigger government not only fails to improve the life of ordinary Americans but actually harms them.”
Elizabeth Price Foley, professor of law at Florida International University College of Law

“In this bold and brilliant book, Garry takes on our overgrown government in the terms of its defenders: he systematically demolishes the argument that a larger government better serves the poor and vulnerable. It is simply essential reading.”
Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs

“In this concise book, Garry uses concrete examples to showshow and why big government inherently works against the very people it claims to help.”
Bradley A. Smith, Josiah H. Blackmore II / Shirley M. Nault Professor of Law at Capital University Law School

“Big government, its advocates argue, helps the little guy. Not so, Patrick Garry insists, and in The False Promise of Big Government he makes a succinct case for the proposition that big government tends to do the opposite.”
Michael BaroneWashington Examiner, American Enterprise Institute

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