I received an e-mail, like I do every week or so, from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that I have often criticized. Its new president is former senator Jim DeMint, someone whom I have often criticized. This time the e-mail, with the signature of DeMint, is recommending a book. Here is how it begins:
Liberty. Limited government. Individual responsibility. Hard work.
These are among the principles that make America great. And they’re exactly what President Obama and his progressive allies hate. Most of all, progressives hate the idea that government shouldn’t control every aspect of our lives.
That’s why my friend and FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe wrote his new book, Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff. If we’re going to beat the progressives and restore constitutional government, we need to show the American people that our ideas are better.
Names that have been associated with FreedomWorks over the years are Dick Armey, Jack Kemp, and Bill Bennett. You can read more about FreedomWorks here and Kibbe here. Kibbe and Armey wrote Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto in 2010. What DeMint did not say in the Heritage e-mail is that the full title of Kibbe’s new book is Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto. So, what is the president of the Heritage Foundation doing recommending a “libertarian” book? Some observations.
1. DeMint is no libertarian. Heritage is not a libertarian think tank. And no, they have not shifted toward libertarianism. They are both enemies of libertarianism. This is not to say that they don’t often say correct things about Obama and the Democrats, liberals, and progressives. When it comes to something like the drug war, DeMint and Heritage don’t believe in individual responsibility at all. They do believe that the government should control that aspect of our lives.
2. I assume from the full title of his book that Kibbe now considers himself to be a libertarian. He used to work for the GOP so I find it hard to believe that he has always been a libertarian.
3. I have not read the book yet, but intend to do so and possibly write a review of it for LRC. My initial reaction is to question the extent and depth of the libertarianism presented in the book. Would DeMint recommend anything written on libertarianism by Murray Rothbard? Would he recommend Libertarianism Today, by Jacob Huebert? (See my review here.) I hope my initial reaction proves to be wrong. I suspect that the book’s flaw will be in what it doesn’t say, rather than in what it says.9:25 am on April 1, 2014 Email Laurence M. Vance