Libertarianism: A Primer

by David Boaz

This book is more substantial if less elegantly written than Charles Murray's What It Means to Be a Libertarian. Boaz, executive v-p of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, reaches back to religion and theorists like David Hume and Adam Smith to explore the roots of libertarianism. Boaz, like Murray, may be too optimistic in his assumption that private charity will supplant government assistance; however, he argues cogently against goverment excess. Government intervention (taxation, bank insurance, Medicare, etc.), he maintains, can diminish virtues like thrift and self-reliance. Libertarianism, he stresses, enhances individual dignity and pluralism; though he opposes laws based on race, he suggests, intriguingly, that Social Security discriminates against blacks because they have lower life expectancies. Predictably, Boaz argues that free markets enhance economic productivity and employment, and that government programs perpetuate bureaucratic and special interests. Among his proposals: end corporate and farm welfare; chop defense spending in half; abolish numerous federal agencies; privatize government programs. He proposes privatizing the Social Security system and offering tax-free Medical Savings Accounts in which unused money allocated for health insurance could be redirected to savings accounts.

Table of Contents

1. The Coming Libertarian Age
2. The Roots of Libertarianism
3. What Rights Do We Have?
4. The Dignity of the Individual
5. Pluralism and Toleration
6. Law and the Constitution
7. Civil Society
8. The Market Process
9. What Big Government Is All About
10. Contemporary Issues
11. The Obsolete State
12. The Libertarian Future
Appendix: Are You A Libertarian?
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