Charles Murray believes that America's founders had it right--strict limits on the power of the central government and strict protection of the individual are the keys to a genuinely free society. In What It Means to Be a Libertarian, he proposes a government reduced to the barest essentials: an executive branch consisting only of the White House and trimmed-down departments of state, defense, justice, and environment protection; a Congress so limited in power that it meets only a few months each year; and a federal code stripped of all but a handful of regulations.
"In the last quarter of the eighteenth century the American Founders created a society based on the belief that human happiness is intimately connected with personal freedom and responsibility. The twin pillars of the system they created were limits on the power of the central government and protection of individual rights.
A few people, of whom I am one, think that the Founders' insights are as true today as they were two centuries ago. We believe that human happiness requires freedom and that freedom requires limited government. Limited government means a very small one, shorn of almost all the apparatus we have come to take for granted during the last sixty years.
Most people are baffled by such a view. Don't we realize that this is postindustrial America, not Jefferson's agrarian society? Don't we realize that without big government millions of the elderly would be destitute, corporations would destroy the environment, and employers would be free once more to exploit their workers? Where do we suppose blacks would be if it weren't for the government? Women? Haven't we noticed that America has huge social problems that aren't going to be dealt with unless the government does something about them?
This book tries to explain how we can believe that the less government, the better. Why a society run on the principles of limited government would advance human happiness. How such a society would lead to greater individual fulfillment, more vital communities, a richer culture. Why such a society would contain fewer poor people, fewer neglected children, fewer criminals. How such a society would not abandon the less fortunate but would care for them better than does the society we have now.
Many books address the historical, economic, sociological, philosophical, and constitutional issues raised is pages. A bibliographic essay at the end of the book points you to some of the basic sources, but the book you are about to read contains no footnotes. It has no tables and but a single graph. My purpose is not to provide proofs but to explain a way of looking at the world."
Charles Alan Murray (born 1943) is an American libertarian political scientist, author, columnist, and pundit currently working as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, DC. He is best known for his controversial book The Bell Curve, co-authored with the late Richard Herrnstein in 1994, which argues that intelligence plays a central role in American society.
He first became well known for his Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 in 1984, which discussed the American welfare system. Murray has also written In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government in 1988, What It Means to be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation in 1996, Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 in 2003, and In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State 2006. He published Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality on August 19, 2008.
His articles have appeared in Commentary Magazine, The New Criterion, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Murray has received a doctorate honoris causa from Universidad Francisco Marroquín.