Freedom-loving author argues that human progress lies in the individual, not government cure-alls.
America is a “sinking ship” and relying on the government to fix it will not work, says Zaugg (The Sounds of Silence: An Introduction to Ethics, 2005, etc.). Instead, the country’s future depends on its citizens rediscovering personal liberty and responsibility. With the zeal of a revolutionary and the discernment of a philosopher, Zaugg champions individualism over blind obedience to legislative bodies, religion and other forms of “collectivism.” He insists people are capable of making healthy choices and managing their own lives. Despite its academic-sounding title, the book is not the typical text on ethics. It is a call to action for Americans to become people of character armed with a moral compass. Belief in human potential, rationality and the existence of universal truths are held up as the cornerstones of civilization. Ethics, Zaugg argues, should be taught in schools alongside other core subjects. “Freedom recognizes the need for values, principles and ideals as the foundation for our success, not an escape from personal responsibility,” he writes. The book is more effective at exposing flaws in current thinking than proposing practical solutions. Zaugg blasts politicians who push for more government mandates and skewers intellectuals who deny the existence of absolute ethical standards. Government, in his view, exists to protect citizens, not to provide for them. Social security, national health care and income taxes are just a few of the sacred cows that come into his crosshairs. Yet this is not a political treatise that falls neatly under conservative or liberal, and readers of all stripes should prepare to have their worldviews challenged. Some the book’s recommendations seem unlikely, such as slashing military spending by 50 percent. The “homework” for each chapter may strike some as a series of loaded questions. Though heavy-handed at times, the author transmits his message in a quizzical style that reflects a deep mistrust for today’s prevailing wisdom.
An intriguing invitation to question and resist, rather than simply obey and serve.