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Libertarianism, from A to Z

3.4  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
Libertarian principles seem basic enough—keep government out of boardrooms, bedrooms, and wallets, and let markets work the way they should. But what reasoning justifies those stances, and how can they be elucidated clearly and applied consistently? In Libertarianism, from A to Z, acclaimed Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron sets the record straight with a dictionary that t
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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Basic Books
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Peter
May 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
The title is deceiving: this is not really a dictionary of libertarianism or even really a standard approach to libertarian thought.

It is more of a bathroom book that briefly explains in short sections what Miron, a Harvard economist with most research in drug legalization, sees as libertarian policy solutions to common policy questions. Eg public funding for arts, food and drug regulation, foreign interventionism, etc.

He offers logical explanations for his thoughts though unfortunately he doesn
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Zachary
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read the book straight through and found the format unsatisfying; is perhaps better as a coffeetable or bathroom book. I appreciated concept of short entries and certainly learned something ... but the shallowness of each made it tough for the material to sink in. The Consequentialist vs Philosophical libertarianism entry was new to me and made the book worthwhile.
Kirk Metzger,
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an easy book to pick up for a few minutes at a time and easy to process. Good introductory book for libertarian thought, and he gives many recommendations for in-depth learning on this philosophy.
Mattiscus
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy to reference dictionary style broad brush-stroke examination of libertarianism. Pitched at the general reader it encourages debates on the variety of today's cultural, political, economic and social shibboleths. Would do well to have a better bibliography at the end for more detailed works.
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“One government policy that libertarians accept is provisions of national defense, since no private solution is likely to prove satisfactory. A private group that attempted to field an army and defend the country would find it difficult to exclude any individual person from the benefits of its protection, since any activities that deterred potential attacks or warded off actual attacks would defend everyone within the country. Thus, most people would not voluntarily pay for national defense provided by a private group, so it is hard for such an activity to be profitable enough to induce adequate private provision. That is, national defenses is what economists refer to as public good.

The conclusion that government should provide some national defense applies to narrow self-defense activities, such as fielding an army that deters enemy attacks and responds to attacks that do occur. In practice, however, nations perform many inappropriate actions under the mantle self-defense, most of them harmful.

On action that goes beyond strict self-defense is preemptive attacks on other countries, as in the invasion of Iraq. In rare instances preemptive strikes might be legitimate self-defense, and by moving first and preventing extended conflict, a government might save lives and property both at home and in the threatening country...In most instances of preemptive attack, however, the threat is not obvious, undeniable, or imminent. The justification for military action is therefor readily misused whenever leaders have other agendas but wish to hide behind the guise of self defense. Thus, preemptive national defense deserves extreme suspicion, and most such actions are not wise uses of government resources.

Another problematic use of a country's self defense capabilities is humanitarian or national-building efforts that purport to help other countries. One objection to such actions might be that the helping country pays the costs while foreigners receive the benefits, but this is not the right criticism. The compassion argument for redistributing income holds that government should be willing to impose costs on society generally to raise the welfare of the least fortunate members. It is hard to see how logic would apply only to people who already residents of a given country.”
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“The usual argument made for excluding gays from the military is that, because of anti-gay sentiment among some non-gay soldiers, the presence of gays might undermine cohesion and discipline. No evidence, however, supports this view; gays have served with minimal problems in numerous countries. The same arguments made against gays in the military were offered decades ago in the United States to oppose racial integration of the armed forces, yet these forces are now entirely integrated with minorities disproportionately represented. The correct policy, therefore, is for the United States to repeal its “don’t ask, don’t tell” stance, as well as to eliminate any federal prohibition on gay service.” 0 likes
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