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Freedom to HarmThe Lasting Legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival$
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Thomas O. McGarity

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300141245

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300141245.001.0001

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Introduction: Two Tragedies

Introduction: Two Tragedies

(p.1) Introduction: Two Tragedies
Freedom to Harm

Thomas O. McGarity

Yale University Press

This chapter explains how the business community's idea and influence infrastructures gained the political advantage and forced a renegotiation of an ongoing social bargain between the business community and the people. The evolution of the social bargain from the Gilded Age to the Laissez Faire Revival is described and the tension among the concepts of freedom, responsibility, and accountability that informed the bargaining process is explored. The business community and a handful of conservative foundations seized the offensive by creating the idea and influence infrastructures needed for a sustained attack on the protective governmental infrastructure. The three vigorous assaults that the business community launched against the protective governmental infrastructure during the first years of the Reagan Administration, the 104th (Gingrich) Congress, and the first George W. Bush Administration are described. The institutional legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival is explored, as are the prospects for a major renegotiation of the social bargain to rebuild and extend the protective governmental infrastructure.

Keywords:   business community, social bargain, Gilded Age, Laissez Faire Revival, governmental infrastructure, George W. Bush

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