At last, a conservative treatise that isn’t too bilious to taste—and that is often entertaining even as it is provocative.
National Review columnist Williamson, like so many on the political hard right, wants to shrink government to a size, as Grover Norquist infamously said, that it can be drowned in the bathtub. This is not because government has no purpose, but since it has become an essentially criminal enterprise: “It is a monopoly on violence,” he writes at one point about the propensity of “men with guns” to arrive on the scene once an official has decided that an enterprise—a protest against corruption, say, or girls selling lemonade to raise money for cancer research—is against its interests. Government, the author writes, is self-perpetuating and self-serving, and its minions, in whom we have entrusted power, “are plainly incompetent…and…cannot be trusted.” He adds, using the old libertarian argument, that the mechanism by which power is enshrined in a supposedly democratic society is suspect, even oxymoronic, inasmuch as the social contract is the only one that does not require or even request endorsement from members of society. Williamson is eminently reasonable throughout, even when he’s burning down city hall. His calls for privatization of some aspects of the law and of the entitlement system sound much less shrill than those of Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, and he even allows that the rich should properly pay more tax than the poor—though perhaps to the poor directly, in the form of an invested trust, rather than to the state, since “money given to politics gets used for politics, for all of Washington’s hollow talk about ‘investment.’ ”
It’s a pleasure to find so even and logical a voice in these pages, which deserve broad airing.