Out of context, it’s a howler. But Sachs, a professor of health policy and management and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has written a fact-filled, chart-laden paean to the hope and can-do spirit of America. Not so long ago, he writes, the government wasn’t corrupt and incompetent. We planned, then carried through. We spent more to solve the problems of poverty, and we taxed the rich more to pay for it. Those taxes are “the price we pay for civilization,” in Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ memorable phrase. This used to be consensus.