9780767900393 / 0767900391

What It Means to Be a Libertarian


Publisher:Broadway Books



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About the book:

Charles Murray first got famous for his book Losing Ground's argument that welfare programs actually hamper the progress of poor people. Then he got even more famous for saying (along with his co-author Richard Herrnstein) in The Bell Curve that genetically-based IQ deficits also hamper their progress. This little book is worth the read because we get to see what he thinks the government should really do about all this: not much. On the plus side, Murray is a very clear writer. So we get, for instance, a nicely drawn discussion of the nature of public goods. But although this book is offered in the spirit of the Revolutionary pamphleteers, when it gets down to cases, Murray comes across as a man who's lost his common sense. For example, he claims that if all businesses were allowed to opt out of the current government regulatory scheme, provided that they display prominent signs saying UNREGULATED, "just about every small business will want to be unregulated. ... No more building inspectors, elevator inspectors, or restaurant inspectors. Owners of unregulated small businesses will have to answer to no one but their customers." He doesn't seem to notice that those customers will be running at top speed away from those clearly marked buildings, elevators, and restaurants.

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