the release date for my new book, Rollback:
Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse.
It could just as easily have been called Everything Needs to
Be Abolished, and Hereís Why.
does two things. First, it lays bare the true fiscal position
of the U.S. government, and shows why some kind of default is
not merely possible but inevitable. But this is not a book full
of numbers about the impending collapse. The collapse is merely
the jumping-off point. By far the more central part of the book
is this: the critical first step for reversing this mess and checking
the seemingly unstoppable federal advance is to stick a dagger
through the heart of the myths by which government has secured
the confidence and consent of the people.
We know these
myths by heart. Government acts on behalf of the public good.
It keeps us safe. It protects us against monopolies. It provides
indispensable services we could not provide for ourselves. Without
it, America would be populated by illiterates, half of us would
be dead from quack medicine or exploding consumer products, and
the other half would lead a feudal existence under the iron fist
of private firms that worked them to the bone for a dollar a week.
tolerate much government predation because they have bought into
the myth that state intervention may be an irritant, but the alternative
of a free society would be far worse. They have been conditioned
to believe that despite whatever occasional corruption they may
observe in politics, the government by and large has their well-being
at heart. Schoolchildren in particular learn a version of history
worthy of Pravda. Governments, they are convinced, abolished
child labor, gave people good wages and decent working conditions;
protect them from bad food, drugs, airplanes, and consumer products;
have cleaned their air and water; and have done countless other
things to improve their well-being. They truly cannot imagine
how anyone who isnít a stooge for industry could think differently,
or how free people acting in the absence of compulsion and threats
of violence Ė which is what government activity amounts to Ė might
have figured out a way to solve these problems. The history of
regulation is, in this fact-free version of events, a tale of
righteous crusaders winning victories for the public against grasping
and selfish private interests who care nothing for the common
suppose that the federal government has in fact been an enemy
of the peopleís welfare, and that the progress in our living standards
has occurred quite in spite of its efforts. It pits individuals,
firms, industries, regions, races, and age groups against each
other in a zero-sum game of mutual plunder. It takes credit for
improvements in material conditions that we in fact owe to the
private sector, while refusing to accept responsibility for the
countless failures and social ills to which its own programs have
given rise. Rather than bringing about the "public good,"
whatever that means, it governs us through a series of fiefdoms
seeking bigger budgets and more power. Despite the veneer of public-interest
rhetoric by which it camouflages its real nature, it is a mere
parasite on productive activity and a net minus in the story of
Now if this
is a more accurate depiction of the federal government, we are
likely to have a different view of the consequences of the coming
fiscal collapse. So an institution that has seized our wealth,
held back the rise in our standard of living, and deceived schoolchildren
into honoring it as the source of all progress, will have to be
cut back? Whatís the catch? This is no calamity to be deplored.
It is an opportunity to be seized. The primary purpose of the
book, therefore, is to demonstrate that we would not only survive
but even flourish in the absence of countless institutions we
are routinely told we could not live without.
the exception of the final chapter, thatís what the rest of the
book does. I wanted it to be a relentless presentation, such that
even a skeptical reader would have to be impressed by the sheer
number and force of the arguments.
Some of the
topics covered include:
we survive without the welfare state?
- Was the
Industrial Revolution a disaster for workers, and evidence of
the wickedness of the free market?
- The market
vs. global poverty
- How the
market, in spite (not because) of government, leads to higher
living standards for everyone
- How the
market leads to improved working conditions and does away with
education programs: a critique
Sweden prove a large welfare state is compatible with lasting
- If government
shrinks, wonít big business fill the void and oppress the public
via predatory pricing?
- Why itís
impossible to design a wealth redistribution program that does
not cause net harm
- The truth
about "affordable housing" programs
and the financial crisis: a case study of free markets run amok?
energy "deregulation" Ė proof that free markets donít
- Is the
Savings & Loan (S&L) crisis evidence of the failure
of free markets?
- The real
record of Sarbanes-Oxley
- OSHA and
- The FDA
we need to make an exception for government science funding?
- A primer
on the War on Drugs
the problems and the solution
- Why "stimulus"
programs make things worse
- How prudential
regulation contributed to the financial crisis
- Are some
firms "too big to fail"?
- Did the
"repeal" of Glass-Steagall contribute to the financial
- The real
story of "deregulation" and the financial crisis
- Is Paul
Krugman right to absolve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac of blame?
- The Pentagonís
impact on the U.S. economy
- Has the
Federal Reserve really made the U.S. economy more stable, as
so many proponents try to claim?
- What caused
the bank panics of the nineteenth century? Are they evidence
of the need for a central bank?
- The separation
of money and state
- Do we
need the Fed to protect us from deflation?
as an anti-competitive device
approaches: agorism, jury nullification, Free State Project,
One of the
goals in writing my books has been to help get people up to speed
on important issues as efficiently (and, I hope, enjoyably) as
possible. (In fact, much of what I write comes down to this: what
do I wish I myself had known 20 years ago, so that I wouldnít
have had to come by all this information so laboriously on my
own?) That way people can more easily prepare themselves to answer
many of the most common objections to their position they are
likely to encounter.
Iím trying to do in Rollback as well. The propaganda with
which we are flooded regarding how indispensable the political
class is Ė why, they are selflessly devoted to "public service"!
Ė is unworthy of a fifth-grader. We would not die instantly in
the absence of the Joe Bidens and Mitch McConnells. We would flourish.
And hereís the proof.