Alexis de Eberstadt
Oct 22, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 06 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Scrapbook readers will be familiar with the work of Nicholas Eberstadt, the nation’s bravest and most prescient demographer, from his appearances in the Wall Street Journal, the National Interest, and (of course!) The Weekly Standard. For 30 years Eberstadt has written eloquently of, and demonstrated pitilessly, the devastating moral and economic consequences of tyranny in the world, from China to the old Soviet Union to North Korea. And now, just in time for the election, he has published A Nation of Takers (Templeton Press) about a subtler form of tyranny closer to home—the “soft tyranny” that Alexis de Tocqueville warned of in Democracy in America.
Tocqueville was referring to the comprehensive blandishments of the state that slowly drain from a citizenry the self-reliance and initiative self-government requires. With vivid charts and graphs and elegant prose, Eberstadt shows the rise of the entitlement state in the United States and the effects, moral and economic, it threatens to have on the country’s character. In the book’s closing pages, William Galston and Yuval Levin offer rebuttals and comments, crisply laying out the grand and overarching issue that separates our two political parties. A Nation of Takers is a must-read this election season—and, at 144 pages, a quick one to boot. Tocque-ville would be impressed, and slightly alarmed.