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Education Reporter

Dependent on D.C. 
BUY this book!
Dependent on D.C.: The Rise of Federal Control Over the Lives of Ordinary Americans, Charlotte A. Twight, Palgrave/ St. Martin's Press, 2002, 337 pps., $26.95

Professor Twight of the Cato Institute raises serious questions about the future of American liberty in her new book - a must-read for all who are concerned with maintaining our unique freedoms. "The shift from personal autonomy to dependence on government is perhaps the defining characteristic of modern American politics," she writes. "In the span of barely a lifetime, a nation grounded in ideals of individual liberty has been transformed into one in which federal decisions control even such personal matters as what health care we can buy . . ."

Twight reveals the bipartisan efforts of elected officials over the past 70 years to deliberately increase the dependence of American citizens on government by employing what has become known as the "manipulation of political transaction costs." "Governments have put this rather dry and abstract concept into practice in very real ways," she writes. She advises Americans to learn and understand it - "as federal officials already do" - in order to preserve our freedom.

To illustrate the use of transaction-cost manipulation to expand government, Dependent on D.C. explores five areas of American life where dependency has been established: 1) Social Security, 2) the income tax, 3) public education, 4) Medicare and, 5) federally-mandated databases.

In the education arena, Twight writes that the 1958 National Defense Education Act, prompted by the deliberately created panic over Sputnik, the first man-made orbiting satellite launched by the Soviets, and the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, made "pivotal inroads" in increasing federal control over the substance of public education. Later, she notes, the 1994 Goals 2000 Educate America Act, the National Skill Standards Act, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, the Improving America's Schools Act, and the 1998 Workforce Investment Act "vastly extended" this control. "They have taken our money, betrayed our trust, failed our children, and then lied about the failures with inflated grades and pretty words. . ."

Contact Charlotte Twight, 208/426-1335, email ctwight@boisestate.edu, or Jerry Brito, manager of media relations, 202/218-4621, jbrito@cato.org.

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