Disunited States: What's at Stake as Washington Fades and the States Take the Lead

Overview

American government is in trouble. It seems to cost more, deliver less, and inspire deeper cynicism year by year. Some say the only solution is to shrink the public sector down to a competent core. Others call for restructuring, reinvention, and reform at the federal level. But the most popular prescription is to shift the public sector’s center of gravity away from Washington and toward the separate states. Democrats and Republicans alike have celebrated devolution as a return to America’s Federalist roots, a ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (19) from $1.99   
  • New (3) from $6.45   
  • Used (16) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 2 of 3
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$6.45
Seller since 2007

Feedback rating:

(417)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Gift quality. Not a remainder. Clean, unmarked pages. Good binding and cover. Hardcover and dust jacket. Ships daily

Ships from: Boonsboro, MD

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$45.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(113)

Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 2 of 3
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

American government is in trouble. It seems to cost more, deliver less, and inspire deeper cynicism year by year. Some say the only solution is to shrink the public sector down to a competent core. Others call for restructuring, reinvention, and reform at the federal level. But the most popular prescription is to shift the public sector’s center of gravity away from Washington and toward the separate states. Democrats and Republicans alike have celebrated devolution as a return to America’s Federalist roots, a spur to efficiency, and a remedy for the rigidity, waste, and arrogance that alienate citizens from their government. They contend that the fifty state governments—small, flexible, "close to the people,” and disciplined by competition—will be more efficient and more responsive than the lumbering federal bureaucracy.But will devolution deliver? In Disunited States, John D. Donahue contends that despite its broad appeal, letting Washington fade and the states take the lead is a dubious strategy for reform. It reflects a misreading of America’s history, a warped view of its bedrock values, and a false analogy to the virtues of competition and decentralization in the private sector. At worst, he argues, America’s willing disintegration within an integrating world economy will be recorded among history’s monumental follies. At best, devolution will prove to be a detour on America’s path to renewal.Donahue shows that shifting power toward the states will do much less than advocates promise to boost efficiency and accelerate innovation—and much more than they admit to undercut national interests and corrode America’s sense of commonwealth. Addressing controversial topics as diverse as welfare reform, school funding, legalized gambling, and interstate bidding for business investment, he weaves a coherent case that isolated action by competitive state governments, not excessive centralization, poses the graver threat to Americans’ most cherished goals. The ascendancy of the states cannot relieve us of the need to confront our problems—growing inequality, eroding trust in government, and an imperiled middleclass culture—as a nation.Indeed, the proponents of shifting power to the states fail to account for the fact that America retains national interests and national values that will get short shrift in an unregulated environment where states accelerate their competition to attract business investment and capital while simultaneously competing to reduce the costs of social welfare programs.The genius of the founders was to forge a single vital nation out of the several separate states, and Disunited States reveals that the road to national division—the road not taken by Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, or Washington—may turn out to lead us not toward restored greatness, but away from it.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While the country's pundits and politicians gravitate to the notion that the devolution of policy to the states is efficient, cheaper and more innovative, Donahue's sober, judicious study throws a damper on such enthusiasm. First he traces the history of such arguments in past presidential administrations (especially those of Nixon and Reagan) and the Supreme Court, then elaborates on theoretical questions such as scale and administrative efficiency. Inconsistent state laws regarding such subjects as environmental regulation and legalized gambling, he notes, show how the common good may require national regulation. State forays into industrial policy show no clear success; in surveying incentive packages (tax breaks and subsidies) that states offer to lure auto plants, Donahue finds widely varying prices paid and irrational patterns of intrastate development. Local control over public educationa matter of traditionis hardly effective, he argues, though acknowledging that an increased federal role in education might be to set national standards rather than take over the nation's schools. While he recognizes that certain functions (e.g., law enforcement) are good candidates for devolution, others, including welfare policy (the current state experiment), should be national priorities, he stresses. Donahuewho teaches public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Governmentwould have enlivened his book with interviews, but his thesis is worth consideration. (July)
Library Journal
Donahue, a former assistant labor secretary in the Clinton administration, analyzes the current trend of dismantling federal programs in favor of block grants and policy setting at the state level. While agreeing with advocates that state management of the programs could serve as the impetus for reform, he warns against simply turning them over with little oversight. Presenting a strong case for concern about the varying degree to which individual states can deal with the growing demands for economic resources, Donahue worries that states could find themselves unable to take care of the poor and disenfranchised if there was a serious economic downturn. While well researched, with an extensive, detailed bibliography, his book lacks specific examples of state and local programs with successful results; a good resource for this is William Eggers and John O'Leary's Revolution at the Roots (LJ 10/1/95). Since the author assumes a knowledge of state and federal systems, as well as some economic theory, this book would work best for graduate programs in public administration and political science.Patricia Hatch, Insurance Inst. for Property Loss Reduction, Boston
Booknews
Donahue (public policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard U.) contends that, despite its appeal, the current trend toward federal decentralization to state authority is a dubious strategy for reform. His argument rests in what he considers a misreading of America's history, and a false analogy to the virtues of competition and decentralization in the private sector that he convincingly appraises will lead to America's disintegration within the integrating world economy but not confront the nation's problems of growing inequality, eroding trust in government, and an imperiled middle- class. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
Rather than reflexively praising state government and reviling federal government, Donahue, of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, actually considers their relative merits.

Current dogma in the longstanding American drama of national authority versus states' rights favors the latter. Donahue's unfashionable response is that reality rather than ideology should shape policy: Tremendous advantages will probably not accrue from devolution of governmental responsibilities, and divided authority has its own problems. Studies of administrative efficiency reveal that state governments sometimes do slightly outperform the federal government—a finding worth noting, but hardly a ringing endorsement of state superiority. A more important point requires recognizing that the biggest task other than national defense undertaken by the federal government is writing checks. Since it is unlikely that Social Security checks, for example, can be written more efficiently in state capitals than in Washington, there are real limits to the benefits of decentralizing administrative operations. State governments could offer greater responsiveness to citizens, but polls reveal that state bureaucracies are held in only slightly less disdain than their federal counterpart. It is in the policy arena where significant differences can be found, including the contrast between Washington's relatively laissez-faire approach to economic markets and the active efforts of state governments to steal industries away from each other. Unfortunately, such efforts rarely produce good policy, and in the one area where responsibility lies at the state and local level—education—the results have not received universal acclaim. Donahue's sensible argument is that policy sometimes benefits from the unity of federal-state action, and at other times from the diversity of actions taken by state governments.

Only in the context of recent political rhetoric emanating from both parties could such a solid and balanced work be potentially controversial.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465016617
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/29/1997
  • Pages: 256
  • Lexile: 1670L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John D. Donahue is associate professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. From 1993 to 1995 he served in the Labor Department, first as an Assistant Secretary, then as Counselor to the Secretary. He is the author of The Privatization Decision: Public Ends, Private Means and coauthor (with Robert B. Reich) of New Deals: The Chrysler Revival and the American System. He and his family live in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 The Ascendancy of the States 2
Ch. 2 America's Endless Argument 16
Ch. 3 Unity and Autonomy: The Weights on the Scale 38
Ch. 4 The National Commons 56
Ch. 5 The Industrial Policy Paradox 75
Ch. 6 The Courtship of Capital 92
Ch. 7 Commonwealth and Competition 120
Ch. 8 The Stewardship of Skills 144
Ch. 9 The Endless Argument's Next Stage 159
Appendix Research on the Impact of Business-Attraction Policies 171
Notes 183
Index 243
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)