Libertarianism: A Primer

Boaz, David

ISBN 10: 068484768X / ISBN 13: 9780684847689
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Synopsis: Tens of millions of Americans, from Generation X-ers to baby boomers and beyond, are rediscovering libertarianism, a visionary alternative to the tired party orthodoxies of left and right. In 1995 a Gallup poll found that 52 percent of Americans said "the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens." Later that year, The Wall Street Journal concurred, saying: "Because of their growing disdain for government, more and more Americans appear to be drifting—often unwittingly—toward a libertarian philosophy."
Libertarianism is hardly new, but its framework for liberty under law and economic progress makes it especially suited for the dynamic new era we are now entering. In the United States, the bureaucratic leviathan is newly threatened by a resurgence of the libertarian ideas upon which the country was founded. We are witnessing a breakdown of all the cherished beliefs of the welfare-warfare state. Americans have seen the failure of big government. Now, in the 1990s, we are ready to apply the lessons of this century to make the next one the century not of the state but of the free individual.
David Boaz presents the essential guidebook to the libertarian perspective, detailing its roots, central tenets, solutions to contemporary policy dilemmas, and future in American politics. He confronts head-on the tough questions frequently posed to libertarians: What about inequality? Who protects the environment? What ties people together if they are essentially self-interested? A concluding section, "Are You a Libertarian?" gives readers a chance to explore the substance of their own beliefs. Libertarianism is must reading for understanding one of the most exciting and hopeful movements of our time.

Review: Libertarianism used to be just a topic at your high school Government Club. But since all those Ayn Rand-niks are now in Congress, it's become a bigger deal. This book is an admirably clear exposition of the position--defined by David Boaz as "the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others"--which is useful to both adherents and those who merely want to "know the enemy." Of course, a lot of questions are left unanswered: Do I have to obey speed limits? Is it OK for me to drive on the left as long as I promise to swerve when I see you coming? Aren't there a lot of valuable enterprises that couldn't be achieved by individual effort alone, but only with a degree of government compulsion, including the federal highway system, public parks, and public libraries?

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Title: Libertarianism: A Primer
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