The U.S. Constitution calls on the federal government to "promote the general welfare." Promoting the General Welfare illustrates how and when American government fails to do so and all too frequently misses opportunities to promote the common good. But this innovative book also carries a more hopeful message. By identifying possible solutions to the problems created by weak incentives, poor information, and inadequate institutional capacity, it offers real solutions to improve government performance.
Divided into three parts, the book first analyzes government performance in the areas of health, transportation, housing, and education and suggests why suboptimal policies often prevail. Next, it examines two novel and sometimes controversial tools available to improve policy design: information markets and laboratory experiments. Last, a series of chapters discusses how three key institutionsCongress, the party system, and federalismaffect government's ability to solve important social dilemmas. They also raise the disturbing possibility that recent political developments have made it more difficult to address and work out remedies.
Contributors: Eugene Bardach (University of California-Berkeley), Sarah A. Binder (Brookings Institution and George Washington University), Morris P. Fiorina (Stanford University), Jay P. Greene (University of Arkansas), Robin Hanson (George Mason University), Charles A. Holt (University of Virginia), David R. Mayhew (Yale University), Edgar O. Olsen (University of Virginia), Mark Carl Rom (Georgetown University), Roberta Romano (Yale Law School), William M. Shobe (University of Virginia), Angela M. Smith (University of Virginia), Aidan R. Vining (Simon Fraser University), David L. Weimer (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Clifford Winston (Brookings Institution).