The book does two things. First, it lays bare the true fiscal position of the U.S. government, and shows why some kind of default is not merely possible but inevitable. But this is not a book full of numbers about the impending collapse. The collapse is merely the jumping-off point. By far the more central part of the book is this: the critical first step for reversing this mess and checking the seemingly unstoppable federal advance is to stick a dagger through the heart of the myths by which government has secured the confidence and consent of the people.
We know these myths by heart. Government acts on behalf of the public good. It keeps us safe. It protects us against monopolies. It provides indispensable services we could not provide for ourselves. Without it, America would be populated by illiterates, half of us would be dead from quack medicine or exploding consumer products, and the other half would lead a feudal existence under the iron fist of private firms that worked them to the bone for a dollar a week.
Could we survive without the welfare state? Was the Industrial Revolution a disaster for workers, and evidence of the wickedness of the free market? The market vs. global poverty How the market, in spite (not because) of government, leads to higher living standards for everyone How the market leads to improved working conditions and does away with child labor Federal education programs: a critique Doesn’t Sweden prove a large welfare state is compatible with lasting prosperity? If government shrinks, won’t big business fill the void and oppress the public via predatory pricing? Why it’s impossible to design a wealth redistribution program that does not cause net harm The truth about "affordable housing" programs Iceland and the financial crisis: a case study of free markets run amok? California energy "deregulation" – proof that free markets don’t work? The real record of Sarbanes-Oxley OSHA and workplace safety The FDA Don’t we need to make an exception for government science funding? A primer on the War on Drugs Obamacare: the problems and the solution Why "stimulus" programs make things worse Are some firms "too big to fail"? Did the "repeal" of Glass-Steagall contribute to the financial crisis? The real story of "deregulation" and the financial crisis The Pentagon’s impact on the U.S. economy Has the Federal Reserve really made the U.S. economy more stable, as so many proponents try to claim? What caused the bank panics of the nineteenth century? Are they evidence of the need for a central bank? The separation of money and state Do we need the Fed to protect us from deflation? Regulation as an anti-competitive device