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WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A LIBERTARIAN by Charles Murray

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A LIBERTARIAN

A Personal Interpretation

By Charles Murray

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-553-06928-4
Publisher: Broadway

 A book guarranteed to delight fans and infuriate foes of the coauthor of the controversial The Bell Curve. Murray's version of libertarianism embraces familiar themes. The ideal (i.e., limited) government created by the Founders has become a bloated bureaucracy that threatens individual freedom. Leftists have foisted welfare programs, environmental regulations, and affirmative action on American society. Not only are these policies pernicious, according to Murray, but their goals would be achieved more efficiently by a free market unimpeded by government. To make these arguments Murray employs the tactics of a polemicist: Empirical propositions are wedded to normative principles and assumed rather than proved; straw men are used to represent opposing viewpoints; conclusions are supported through highly selective use of statistics, ``thought experiments,'' and trendlines. The most intriguing example, given Murray's obsessive effort to correlate government growth with the worsening of virtually every conceivable national problem, is his failure to notice that government growth also correlates with what he acknowledges to be ``the phenomenal growth in national wealth during this century.'' Engaging on this level and analyzing specific arguments would be to misunderstand Murray's purpose, however. He is writing as an entertainer, and the relevant basis for assessment is amusement value. Those who share Murray's preconceptions will enjoy this book, for he trumpets the superiority of his position and the errors of opponents without doubt or any consideration of contrary complexities. Those who disagree may enjoy it even more, for opponents of the principles and assumptions Murray champions will find a clear target to attack. Evaluated on the proper grounds, this volume is a clear success. (For another view of this subject, see David Boaz, Libertarianism, p. TKTK.) ($100,000 ad/promo; author tour)