Review of “Rollback” by Thomas E. Woods Jr.

In Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse, author Thomas E. Woods, Jr. presents a clear picture of the serious situation in the U.S. due to the overreaching federal government and its laws and policies. In a relatively short book (188 pages), Woods covers a wide variety of topics including Obama care, government spending, regulations, and bailouts, the Federal Reserve, and the War on Drugs. The author illustrates how  government interference and regulation serve to thwart real progress and improvement in the economy and in society as a whole. He also warns that it may be too late to ward off an entitlement collapse due to the aging population of the U.S.

For example, Woods shows how the “too big to fail” doctrine applied by the government in its bailout of financial firms and auto companies caused these companies to have an artificial advantage in obtaining capital from investors. The investors know that these companies will be “bailed out” by the government (read: taxpayers) and therefore their investment is not at risk. So firms that are genuinely profitable are deprived of capital while those deemed “too big to fail” get rewarded with more capital to make more risky investments and receive further bailouts.

Woods also illustrates how government intervention for the good of society is often counterproductive, as in the case of government assistance or welfare. People will place themselves in the condition that entitles them to get the benefit, because they think it’s “free.” As more citizens do this, the workforce becomes smaller and society as a whole gets poorer.

Government regulation often fails to produce the desired result as well, causing extra expense for business to comply, and the business possibly having to cut jobs to get the money to meet the expense of complying with the regulations. The government inspectors are very often unfamiliar with the processes they are to inspect and valuable working time is spent to train the inspectors. In the case of OSHA,  the creation of this agency has not caused any greater decline in the rate of workplace fatalities than already existed before its creation. It does, however, create three times more costs than it generates in benefits.

Woods makes a compelling case that the free market is the best regulator of the economy, business and society  and presents many ideas for improvement which may gain popularity as our situation worsens, which it almost certainly will. This is a thought-provoking book which has much educational and practical value and should be read by every intelligent American citizen.

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