The Declaration Of Independents by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch

Is the future so bright we have to wear shades?

In this era of runaway spending, perpetual warfare, and economic uncertainty, you wouldn’t be faulted for saying no.  That’s not how Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch of Reason.com and Reason magazine see it.  In their libertarian/independent voter manifesto “The Declaration Of Independents,” they see a bright future.  We’re in the midst of a libertarian moment, where our personal lives, our commerce, and our pop culture is becoming more individualized, more tailored to our personal tastes, allowing us to carve out our identities and our paths as we see fit.

Defining libertarianism as “the freedom to peaceably pursue happiness” without government intrusion, Gillespie and Welch go on to provide examples of libertarianism in action.  Their examples aren’t of the “Country X pursues Policy Y, prosperity ensues” variety.  They cite individuals from across  various professions, doggedly pursuing their passions (fighting off government tyranny, government-corporate collusion, and/or corporate bureaucracy along the way) to make the world a better place.  Airlines are cheaper and more responsive to customers, baseball strategy has been revolutionized, and the American workplace is a more dynamic sphere to be in thanks to these libertarian revolutions.

Gillespie and Welch also turn their eyes and snarky remarks to the world of politics.  The message is blunt-we’re out of money.  The authors summarize the depressing causes (a 29% increase in regulatory spending, a 60% increase in overall federal outlays, state government spending growing 50% faster than the rate of inflation, among other policies) that gave us the depressing effects of the last 10 years (673,000 jobs lost in the private sector, total debt currently at 63% of GDP and climbing).

Solutions to our public policy problems are addressed, although not in real specific detail.  The book touches upon the 19% solution Reason magazine published in their March 2011 issue.  They advocate free market-leaning solutions to health care (repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act), education (implementing the weighted-student formula where money follows students) and retirement (control over the money you pay in FICA taxes).  Gillespie and Welch conclude with how the power of modern-day technology has and will continue to revolutionize politics, as voters care less and less about party politics, and decentralized independent voters are swinging elections when they rally around narrowly-focused agendas (such as the Tea Party’s anti-spending platform).

The big question on a book like this:  will it influence others?  I’m doubtful the book will sway partisans from either side of the conservative/liberal dichotomy, not with the authors referring to Iran-Contra as “Ronald Reagan’s dress rehearsal for Alzheimer’s” and accurately pointing out how President Obama has expanded Bush-era policies.  But partisans are not the target audience.  Independent voters and entrepreneurial citizens are.  For independent voters, this book serves as a good introduction to libertarianism and how the libertarian mindset has some pretty considerable accomplishments under its belt.

Policy wonks already steeped in such things as Chicago or Austrian school economics, marijuana legalization, and other libertarian-leaning causes won’t find anything new in the book.  But voters fed up with Washington should find a lot they can cheer about.

Recommended.

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23 Responses to “The Declaration Of Independents by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch”

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    […] And Josh Harding: […]

  2. Listen to Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch on Boston’s WRKO AM 680 at 1:30 PM ET | Daily Libertarian Says:

    […] And Josh Harding: […]

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