*The Declaration of Independents*

The authors are the renowned Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch and the subtitle is How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America.

This book is a excellent 2011 statement of what libertarianism should be, though I would say the title is more descriptive of the content than is the subtitle.  It’s well written throughout, smart to focus on the areas where libertarianism is strongest, and remarkably for an “ideological” book it never ventures into the absurd or makes indefensible claims.

It stresses government as a dysfunctional institution which forces too much bundling, too little choice, and too little real accountability.  It explains why the dynamics of political power are so difficult to avoid.  It recognizes the numerous ways in which we are freer than in times past and it stresses the cultural dimensions of both recent progress and libertarian thought.  It reads like a book which is much smarter for having read blogs written by people of opposing points of view (just my speculation).

Is the book libertarian or liberaltarian?  There’s never quite a recipe for how government might, say, shrink to a much smaller share of gdp.  The section on health care stresses that health care is not the major determinant of health and that government policy has driven cost inflation.  I am never sure how much the latter claim is true.  They call for more choice in the hands of consumers, but the details are murky.  They call, correctly, for insurance and provider deregulation.  There is a call, correctly, for more competition and portable, non-job-attached health insurance policies.  But can all that, combined, lead us to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid and still somehow deal with the “people dying in the streets” problem?  That case is not made, nor am I sure how much the authors wish to make it.  I am also not so sure that current political markets are a crumbling duopoly; we will see.

This is the up-to-date statement of libertarianism.  Not warmed-over right-wing politics, but real, true-blooded libertarianism in the sense of loving liberty and wanting to find a new path toward human flourishing.


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