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May 21

Uncle Sam Can’t Count: A History of Failed Government Investments, from Beaver Pelts to Green Energy

Drawing on examples from the nation's past and present, Uncle Sam Can't Count provides a thorough economic history of why the federal government cannot – and should not – pick winners and losers in the private sector. Burt and Anita Folsom argue that government subsidies have failed dismally from the days of George Washington through World War II to today. Draining the Treasury of cash, they impede economic growth and hurt the very companies receiving aid. As the authors detail, federal officials don't have the same abilities or incentives as entrepreneurs. In addition, federal control always equals political control of some kind. What is best for politicians is not often what works in the marketplace. Politicians want to win votes, and they can do so by giving targeted CEOs benefits while dispersing costs to others. 

Filled with examples of government failures and free market triumphs – from John Jacob Astor to the Wright Brothers, World War II amphibious landing craft to Detroit – Uncle Sam Can't Count demonstrates why the government should leave business exclusively to private entrepreneurs.

Burton W. Folsom Jr. is the Charles Kline Professor of History and Management at Hillsdale College, and the author of New Deal or Raw Deal?, The Myth of the Robber Barons, and FDR Goes to War, co-written with his wife. Anita Folsom has pursued a career in both teaching and politics, including teaching American history at Hillsdale College as well as directing the College's Free Market Forum. Both have written for the Wall Street Journal, American Spectator, Human Events, and other publications.

More About the Speakers

Burton W. Folsom, Jr. and Anita Folsom
Co-Authors

Hosted By

Stephen Moore Stephen Moore

Chief Economist Read More