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Money And Good Intentions Are Not Enough: Or, Why A Liberal Democrat Thinks States Need Both Competition And Community

by John E. Brandl

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Book Description
State governments are spending a lot, accomplishing too little, and failing to meet their responsibilities to the public. In this book, former state legislator John E. Brandl argues that the usual remedies for ineffective government bureaucracy cutting or adding to budgets, urging civil servants to become more entrepreneurial, hiring tougher managers, or appointing smarter bureaucrats won't provide substantial, long-term improvement. Brandl believes that government policy generally fails because public servants and private citizens, through influence or power, frustrate public purposes by gaining benefits for themselves at the expense of others. Highlighting the chronic problems of low productivity, absence of improvement, and exorbitant costs in education and other state-run programs, he calls for governments to abandon old, disproved theories for reform. Using the public school system as a glaring example, Brandl points out that although real spending per student has tripled in the last 30 years, teachers continually receive higher salaries and benefits, and the average class size has shrunk from 27 to 17 since the end of World War II, the educational performance of American youngsters "has become a national disgrace." He cites instances of a teachers' union issuing a legislative agenda with several financial demands--and no references to the education of children; school boards reallocating funds designated for improving low-income schools; and numerous other examples of self-interest taking precedence over public purpose. Brandl provides a menu of alternative policies that rely on both harnessing self-interest through competition and incentives (such as basing teachers' salaries and promotions on measurable student improvements) and encouraging affiliations that inspire a spirit of community to forge a strong connection between spending and results. This book offers a vision for state government that is limited but strong, productive, and satisfying because it draws on the aspirations and talents of its citizens.

From the Publisher
John E. Brandl served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and, for 12 years, as a Minnesota state legislator. He is currently interim dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.



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