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Publishers WeeklyStone, a research professor and author (Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision-Making), takes a critical look at America's shifting attitudes toward public policy over the past thirty years, during which "economists, social scientists, conservatives, and free-market ideologues have had us believing that self-interest makes the world go 'round." Her aim, to "reunite politics with doing good," challenges "the new conventional wisdom: 'Help is harmful.'" She covers well-known objections to the welfare state in her second chapter, including the ideas that help makes people dependant, entitlements undermine good citizenship, and that "markets are better helpers than government." Citing surveys, anecdotes and the work of volunteer organizations and charities, Stone pushes back against the modern myth of American self-reliance and its guiding thesis, Ayn Rand's idea that "the only rational ethical principle for human relationships... is free-market trade." Illustrating that most average Americans are not innately greedy, but rather willing partners in community action, Stone finds America's true spirit in "everyday altruism." She makes the argument that the real "moral hazard" we face, as individuals and as a nation, is not coddling the poor, but walking away from those in need.
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