The End of Big Government--and the New Paradigm Ahead
Author: James P. Pinkerton
Publisher: Hyperion Press
September 1995

Pinkerton argues that "because government provides such shoddy service, those who can afford it will pay to have a sort of secondary government--private security guards, tutors for education, and the like--while the poor and disassociated will have access to little or no quality services. Thus, he claims, a new paradigm is needed."

>From the Publisher
Our current government is failing us - the poor most dramatically. Global market forces of information and capital are destroying the old top-down politics. If present trends are allowed to continue, America will stumble into a grim Cyber Future of community breakdown and spiraling inequality - a real-life nightmare reminiscent of the fiction of William Gibson. But James Pinkerton offers hope that we can yet create a prosperous, tolerant, and compassionate society for the next century. Radically streamlined government must be part of the answer, but such transformation must be balanced by a new paradigm of choice, empowerment, inclusiveness, and decentralization that leads to a new spirit of communitarian healing at the grassroots. Pinkerton brings his practical experience in electoral politics to a sharp yet constructive critique of both parties. He warns the rampaging Republicans against culture-war jihads, but he counsels Democrats that they are doomed if they can't break their Faustian bargain with bureaucracy. And if both parties fail, he adds, some new third-party political configuration is inevitable. On the eve of the 1996 elections, no book could be more timely than What Comes Next.

>From the Critics
>From Publisher's Weekly - Publishers Weekly
A policy adviser in the Bush White House, syndicated Newsday columnist Pinkerton here presents a slashing primer on downsizing government in a cybernetic jargon that many readers may find annoying. He admonishes Democrats to rethink their faith in redistributive bureaucracy, while Republicans are urged to abandon ultranationalism and hostility to homosexuals and ethnic minorities. Pinkerton advocates contracting out government services to private firms, creation of a new Civilian Conservation Corps, cuts in Social Security and Medicare. As for tax reform, he suggests either a flat tax on income or a consumption-only tax, with no taxes on monies saved and invested. He also proposes a decentralized health-care system featuring tax-favored IRAs, which people would use to pay for insurance coverage, and a school-voucher system whereby parents get cash grants to spend as they choose on their children's public or private education. Many of his proposals seem palliative, expensive or unworkable.

>From Library Journal
Each of these three books presents a blueprint to achieve the goals of the current political moodmaking government smaller and more accountable. Their argument is basically the same: the smaller the government, the closer it is to the people and therefore the better it is. They also tout many of the same ideas: a flat income tax, welfare reform, school choice, deregulation, and privatization. Each book, however, has its own characteristics. House Majority Leader Armey (R-Texas), one of the authors of the Republican Party's "Contract with America," argues that the 1994 election, which gave Republicans control of Congress for the first time since the 1940s, was a mandate to put the provisos of the contract into place. Armey also gives details of his own life and political ideology and spells out his proposals for a flat income tax and other initiatives. Since the Contract with America will continue to be debated by Congress, this is an important work for anyone interested in the current political climate. Eggers and O'Leary, members of the Reason Foundation, discuss initiatives taken by local and state governments to privatize and streamline bureaucracies. They provide excellent case studies of these mechanisms and present a compelling argument that, given the right personnel, government services can be improved and savings achieved. Their book is important because it provides clues as to how some local and state governments will handle the block grants currently under discussion in Washington. Pinkerton, a former aide in the Bush administration, presents a rather extreme view of the changes he claims need to be made. He believes that the current political and economic course will result in the desolate worlds described by "cyberpunks" in science fiction literature. Because government provides such shoddy service, those who can afford it will pay to have a sort of secondary governmentprivate security guards, tutors for education, and the likewhile the poor and disassociated will have access to little or no quality services. Thus, he claims, a new paradigm is needed, and he espouses many of the same ideas as Armey. His premise is somewhat questionable, but he gives a decent history of how we got where we are and delineates many of the ideas currently being debated. Pinkerton's book is recommended for academic collections, while The Freedom Revolution and Revolution at the Roots are recommended for all collections.Patricia Hatch, Emmanuel Coll., Boston. Ma.

>From Gilbert Taylor - BookList
Many problem-with-government books drown in minutiae and disappear into the deep. Not this one: it has big thoughts and bright writing, is positioned for the 1996 elections, and will resist liberal or conservative labels. Pinkerton recognizes the split society America is becoming: half safe, privatized, and rich; half an incipient cybernetized hellhole of "hypercrime." The federal behemoth, which he amusingly likens to a malfunctioning computer program and dubs AMERICRAT 5.0, seems in terminal default mode, offering no solution; in past crises, leaders, namely Lincoln and FDR, have advanced a "Big Offer" the public accepted. A new Big Offer, the New Paradigm Pinkerton futilely promoted as a Bush staffer, outflanks the immobile bureaucracy by means of vouchers for health and education; assures citizens of personal safety; junks job training in favor of a New Dealstyle jobs-creating program; and preempts the coming generational war by tackling uncontrolled entitlement spending. Agnostic on which party, or new party, should take up this standard, Pinkerton's vision thing deserves attention--and his hipper-than-thou phrasing ensures he'll keep it once readers open his book.

>From Norman Ornstein - The New York Times Book Review
'What Comes Next' is not like any policy or political book you have read. While it discusses Hegel, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek, as any self-respecting conservative political analysis would, it gives equal time to analyzing William Gibson's cyberpunk science fiction novel 'Neuromancer,' the Harrison Ford science fiction movie 'Blade Runner' and Bruce Springsteen's songs about America's workforce and economic decline. . . . {This is} a book with dozens of popular culture references that will fly right over the heads of middle-aged and older policy aficionados, written in a style that tries to be both hip-cynical and hip-philosophical. But it also brims with interesting insights and fresh perspectives.

>From David Gelernter - National Review
Pinkerton's writing is breathtakingly bad. Style wouldn't rate such a prominent mention ordinarily, but in this case it dominates the impression you take away. If reading fine prose is like skiing easily downhill, reading Pinkerton is like trekking back up again through an avalanche. You are exhausted by page thirty. The text is littered with the author's new coinages, which create the sobering impression of auto wrecks by the roadside. . . . The true masterpieces are the sentences that succeed in being incomprehensible and disgusting simultaneously. 'With the Old Paradigm of the Bureaucratic Operating System dug in like a Texas tick, the next Big Offerer will need a gargantuan pair of tweezers to yank it out.'