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Book Reviews

A 27-page Introduction to Local Government Ethics!

Government ethics is one of the most misunderstood topics among local government officials and employees, government...
Robert Wechsler
Eula Biss's excellent book On Immunity (Graywolf Press, 2014) is not about legislative immunity, but about immunity to diseases. And yet there is a great deal of food for thought in it about municipal ethics.

The first parallel can be seen in the "mun" in both "immunity" and "municipal." It comes from the same Latin word "munus," which means service or duty. Who knew that...
Robert Wechsler
Robert E. Goodin's book Manipulatory Politics (Yale Univ. Press, 1980) is valuable for its "cataloguing [of] various modes of political manipulation," as the author wrote in his Preface. Goodin found only a few of the cases "ethically worrisome," but the fact that I disagree does not make the catalog any less valuable.

Goodin's definition of "manipulation" is "power...
Robert Wechsler

Last month, Jonathan Rauch published a sincere and well-written defense of political machines, entitled "Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy" (Brooking Institution Press; available free as a PDF or e-book). Although the essay scarcely mentions conflicts of interest, gifts, nepotism, and the like, and it makes no mention at all of conflicts of...

Robert Wechsler

Lee Drutman’s The Business of America is Lobbying: How Corporations Became Politicized and Politics Became More Corporate (2015) is an excellent book about corporate lobbying at the federal level. Drutman is especially good on the reasons for the growth of this lobbying, particularly the reasons why this lobbying is “sticky.” Since corporations and their associations...

Robert Wechsler
Last week, Edward B. Foley, who directs Election Law @ Moritz, Ohio State's law school, put online the draft of a paper entitled "Voters as Fiduciaries." The paper makes the argument that voters should not be voting their personal interests, but should instead be expressing their best judgment of what is in the public interest, including the interest of future generations.

An important...