Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State

Never EnoughSince the beginning of the New Deal American liberals have insisted that the government must do more – much more- to help the poor, to increase economic security, to promote social justice and solidarity, to reduce inequality and mitigate the harshness of capitalism. Nonetheless, liberals have never answered, or even acknowledged, the corresponding question: what would be the size and nature of a welfare state that was not contemptibly austere, that did not urgently need new programs, bigger budgets, and a broader mandate? Even though the federal government’s outlays on all the programs in its “Human Resources” category were, after adjusting for inflation and population growth, 15 times larger in 2007 than in 1940, liberal rhetoric is always addressed to a nation trapped in “Groundhog Day,” where every year is 1932, and where none of the existing welfare state program that spends tens of billions of dollar matter or even exist.

Never Enough explores the roots and consequences of liberals’ aphasia about the welfare state’s ultimate size, scope and cost, assessing what liberalism’s lack of a limiting principle means for the policy choices confronting America in a new century. It concludes that the liberal project has jeopardized our experiment in self-government by encouraging Americans to regard their republic as a vehicle for taking advantage of their fellow citizens, rather than as a compact for respecting one another’s rights and safeguarding future generations’ opportunities.

What people are saying

“An essential work in the development of a twenty-first century conservatism.”​ Brian C. Anderson, Editor, City Journal; author of South Park Conservatives

“William Voegeli may be the most valuable, engaging and original critic of liberalism writing today. No serious student of contemporary political life will regret their investment in this profound yet eminently accessible work. Never Enough answers questions most people struggle even to articulate.” Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism

“William Voegeli’s superb new book, Never Enough, comes at just the right time…. essential reading in the age of Obama.” Yuval LevinCommentary

“William Voegeli’s excellent new book, Never Enough,… should be read by all politically engaged Americans, regardless of partisan or ideological affiliation.” Reihan SalamNational Review Online

“Far and away the most substantial explanation to date of our current political condition….  the best book written on liberalism in recent decades.” Fred SiegelClaremont Review of Books


"More conservatives should read William Voegeli. National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg says Voegeli 'may be the most valuable, engaging and original critic of liberalism writing today.' Two current articles demonstrate why he merits such superlatives." — John David Dyche, American liberalism lacks a limiting principle

"In his 2010 book 'Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State,' William Voegeli implores conservatives to recognize that a state cannot reasonably be expected to make meaningful concessions to an adversary who refuses to recognize its right to exist." — Tim Kowal, Painting Conservatism Out of the Corner

"If the American Conservative, National Review, and the Weekly Standard would cooperate in selecting a book of the year, William Voegeli’s narrative explaining why neither rising living standards nor a conservative movement that has achieved more than a few electoral successes has been able to roll back the expansion of the welfare state, 'Never Enough,' should be in the running." — Robert W. Patterson, The Welfare State Dilemma, Left and Right

"Liberalism, once dominant in American politics, has for decades been in retreat. Even with Democrats in control of two branches of government, liberalism today is locked in a standoff against a deeply flawed conservatism. How did it come to this?" — John E. Schwarz, Liberalism Without Limits

"'Never Enough' is an analysis of the history, politics, and economics of liberalism. You'll find nothing better. William Voegeli's perceptions are keen, and his wry humor exposes the liberal bent for espousing contradictory positions simultaneously." — Marcia Sielaff, American Thinker Reviews "Never Enough"

"William Voegeli has bad tidings for advocates of limited government and low taxes: There is no endgame when it comes to the liberal agenda." — Kevin Ferris, Back Channels: The liberal roadblocks to shrinking government

"The Washington Post columnist endorses Straussian falsehoods about American liberalism." — Michael Lind, First Glenn Beck, now George Will

"Lack of 'a limiting principle' is the essence of progressivism, according to William Voegeli, contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books, in his new book 'Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State.'" — George F. Will, The danger of a government with unlimited power

"William Voegeli, a scholar of impeccable conservative credentials, has joined Ryan's battle in his book 'Never Enough,' a searing indictment of what he calls the Hundred Years' War between the party of more and the party of less. " — Jonah Goldberg, In a Welfare State, How Much Is 'Enough'?

"Never Enough, the best book written on liberalism in recent decades, is an essential read for understanding how we came to this pass. It articulates the understandings of what the Tea Partiers fear and denounce but aren't able to explain. " — Fred Siegel, Insatiable Liberalism

"The welfare state has massively increased in scope and size since 1940, and it is undergoing another vast expansion under Obama. What is to be done? Voegeli follows Lincoln’s adage: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”" — Scott Johnson, Never Enough