David Bergland


This commentary takes a look at recent Libertarian literature, specifically: Harry Browne's Why Government Doesn't Work, Charles Murray's What It Means To Be a Libertarian, and David Boaz' Libertarianism: A Primer. These books critique federal government programs and specific policy proposals, and in the process they raise several questions that are fundamental to the American experiment with human liberty within the constitutional framework bequeathed to us by Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, the other founders, and the People who ratified the Constitution. Section II seeks to figure out how to describe Libertarians. Section III discusses the fallacy of legislative omnipotence, including the moral element (the government should deal with any perceived problems) and the pragmatic element (that government action will improve the situation caused by the problem). Section IV breaks down the three authors’ proposals to fix the larger problems in modern society. Not surprisingly, the three libertarian authors agree, although not completely, about what government should do (much less than it is now doing) and not do (most of what it currently attempts).