Saturday, June 09, 2012

New Book: "Back from Serfdom: Restoring American Prosperity with a Pro-Market New Deal"


New book now available from Amazon "Back from Serfdom: Restoring American Prosperity with a Pro-Market New Deal," by Robert Dell (and just a little help from Mark J. Perry), here's a description:

"Government is essential to our well-being. But most government expansion since the Coolidge era has been shown to be politically motivated and economically counterproductive. Even a large number of progressive economists find no sound economic or moral basis for many important federal policies and would drastically restructure the ones whose ends they favor. U.S. citizens, including conservatives, do not appreciate the nature and extent of government failure or the toll it imposes on the general prosperity.

Combining business, economics, history and politics, Back from Serfdom aims to empower citizens in their civic and political discourse by deepening their understanding of the most problematic government policies. A modern antithesis to A New Deal, the popular 1932 polemic that served as a public blueprint for government growth under the Roosevelt Administration, this book argues for market-based banking, health care, federal downsizing and tax reforms by appealing to classical liberal, egalitarian and pragmatic concerns."

22 Comments:

At 6/09/2012 9:16 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Congratulations on the publication of the book, Mark! I look forward to reading it.

 
At 6/09/2012 11:42 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Dr Perry, it seems you're everywhere nowadays. Teh last 2 authors of the books I've read(Jonah Goldberg, Arthur C Brooks) mentioned you prominently. Congrats!

 
At 6/09/2012 9:06 PM, Blogger hancke said...

I know some folks that sorely need to read this. Can I get a discount on 535 + 1 copies?

 
At 6/10/2012 8:38 AM, Blogger Pulverized Concepts said...

Government is essential to our well-being.

That's a bad statement. First of all, there are many different forms of government, are all of them essential to our well-being or just certain kinds? What do you mean by "well-being"? Who gets to decide this stuff? Why do the tiny minority of Americans living near Castro Street in San Francisco get to send geriatric professional politician Nancy Pelosi to D.C. to make decisions that affect 320,000,000 souls that wouldn't let her use their phone? But that's the government we've got, people think it's normal because it's all they've ever known.

 
At 6/10/2012 10:24 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

pc-

even as a die hard libertarian, i will be the first to admit you need government.

you need to to defend the rights of the individual and to enforce contracts and protect the nation from invasion.

this prevents the war of all against all.

such a role enhances as opposed to limits personal liberty.

i gain more from not having to worry about being killed as i walk down the street than i lose in terms of my ability to attack others.

as soon as government goes beyond these roles, it nearly always becomes an evil, but in terms of the basic protection of individual rights, you really do need government.

absent such, yo would need your own army to protect you an your property.

 
At 6/10/2012 4:55 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

you need to to defend the rights of the individual and to enforce contracts and protect the nation from invasion.

You do need voluntary organizations to accomplish those tasks, but you certainly don't need a big central government to do so.

i gain more from not having to worry about being killed as i walk down the street than i lose in terms of my ability to attack others.

You know, the state can't really prevent your murder. Most people aren't trying to kill you. In neighbourhoods where people do regularly assault each other, the cops are notably absent. So, I don't really see that protection you're attributing to the police (I'm assuming you mean police).

absent such, yo would need your own army to protect you an your property.

Yes, please. At least I don't have to worry about my own army breaking down my door and accidentally raiding my house for drugs.

 
At 6/10/2012 6:53 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

PC: "Why do the tiny minority of Americans living near Castro Street in San Francisco get to send geriatric professional politician Nancy Pelosi to D.C. to make decisions that affect 320,000,000 souls that wouldn't let her use their phone?"

*like*

 
At 6/10/2012 6:58 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Methinks: "You know, the state can't really prevent your murder. Most people aren't trying to kill you. In neighbourhoods where people do regularly assault each other, the cops are notably absent. So, I don't really see that protection you're attributing to the police (I'm assuming you mean police)."

While I agree the police aren't really effective at prevention, they do a pretty decent job of showing up later to take reports. :)

 
At 6/10/2012 7:03 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Ron H., you mean as effective as Obama at taking credit for killing bin Laden?

 
At 6/11/2012 9:03 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

methinks-

"
You do need voluntary organizations to accomplish those tasks, but you certainly don't need a big central government to do so."

how can a voluntary organization defend my rights?

are we talking citizen's militia here? vigilantes? the notion that we can sign up for our own private legal systems is horribly fraught and turns feudal and hopelessly complex.

i am 100% with you that we need a helluva lot less government, especially at the federal level than we have, but you do need some government to protect your liberty.

how else will you avoid the war of all against all or a decent into a hopeless morass of competing legalisms?

your further arguments are incredibly disingenuous. sure, the state cannot stop you from killing me, but it can attach such a high price to it that you do not want to. your argument there is not really valid.

and you cannot be serious about wanting your own army. really? you want to travel with armed goons? you want guys with rifles guarding your property? i doubt that very much. it's easy to say those things and be flip, but i have severe doubts you would actually be willing to deal with it (and its costs and the likelihood of mutiny, extortion, etc) in reality.

i think you also over estimate how well it would work.

 
At 6/11/2012 9:06 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"At least I don't have to worry about my own army breaking down my door and accidentally raiding my house for drugs."

perhaps not, but you would have to worry about mine doing so. or mine and a combo of other armies getting together to loot you.

or my paying off your captain to turn on you. or his doing it of his on volition to take your stuff. or perhaps just extorting you.

that hardly sounds like a life of liberty and security to me.

 
At 6/11/2012 9:48 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Morganovich,

I think if you carefully examine our current legal system, you'll be hard-pressed to declare it less fraught. Here's but one link:

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/04/debtors-prison-for-failure-to-pay-for-your-own-trial.html

sure, the state cannot stop you from killing me, but it can attach such a high price to it that you do not want to. your argument there is not really valid.

Do you suppose that you've not yet been murdered because of the high price attached to murder? And do you suppose in the absence of a central government that the price would somehow be lower? Why? The laws dealing with murder sprung not from government fiat but from people's common understanding of right and wrong. So, I fail to understand why you credit the state with that innovation.


and you cannot be serious about wanting your own army. really? you want to travel with armed goons? you want guys with rifles guarding your property? i doubt that very much.

I don't actually think that you need to travel with armed goons. Also, it seems you've never hired private security. I take exception to these people being described as "goons". I would actually prefer my property were protected by armed men working for me to armed goons who have their guns pointed at me. The police certainly has turned into a marauding band of goons. Or do you happen to enjoy living with the knowledge that your property can be expropriated by them at any time?

 
At 6/11/2012 9:53 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

perhaps not, but you would have to worry about mine doing so. or mine and a combo of other armies getting together to loot you.

I don't have to worry about that any more than I worry about that now. Already, I have security because there is some chance that an ordinary thief or a drug gang (a result of the current law enforcement you think so highly of) will break into my house, steal my property and kill my family. I also have to worry about the police that is supposed to protect me doing that.

I don't worry about you doing anything because your opportunity cost is far too high. Productive people generally don't choose violent crime. In fact, most people don't and they're not more likely to in the absence of a giant central government. Do you really think that most people are killers and the only thing standing between you and them are the men in blue who are endowed with far too much power? Are you keeping your murderous instincts at bay only because the cost of murder is too high?

 
At 6/11/2012 10:08 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Incidentally, Morganovich, there's nothing stopping my neighbours to band together to hire private security. In my neighbourhood in CT, we had exactly that sort of private arrangement.

 
At 6/11/2012 2:34 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

methinks-

i think you are assuming that the world would be just as it is without enforceable law.

take a look at a society in africa or afghanistan that runs along the feudal lines you espouse. murder IS more common. so is blood feud.

you are also using an unfair debate technique by making me defend reality while you argue from pie in the sky theory.

i am NOT holding up our system as a paragon, and exemplar, nor perfect. you are trying to make that into a straw man.

our government has gone vastly beyond the roles i outlined. my whole point is that it should be scaled back to just protecting rights and enforcing contracts. to saddle me with its manifold overreaches and failures is unfair. that is not what i am advocating.

and your "security" now is nothing compared to what you would need absent any government.

i don;t know if you have spent time living and or working where you need armed guards to go outside, but as someone who did it for about a week, i can tell you, it really sucks.

i think you imagine that greenwich would still be greenwich without any government or police.

you are also looking at it from a very privileged position. perhaps you or i can afford guards to protect us, but most cannot. what are they do do? how can they leave their house?

do you honestly believe that theft would not skyrocket absent the threat of arrest? would you have that role taken over by mobs with no requirement of due process?

you and i may agree on theft and killing, but what are we to do with those who do not agree with us if there is no law for all?

 
At 6/11/2012 2:40 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

also:

and just what do you propose to do when you run into a really big gang, like, say, a government?

you may well like the idea of an anarcho-capitalist state, but what happens when mexico does not? they have a government. they have an army. not a few guards like you do, but an army, with helicopter gunships etc. they notice that you have some nice things and decide they want them.

surely you will not argue that wars are never fought for avarice.

so now what will you do? who will defend you?

what, you'll subscribe to "bob's defense corp" who run an army for you? what if you neighbor does not and free rides? so half your town gets bombed and half does not? or you pay and i free ride?

you seem to be making a lot of assumptions here about humans being good and bad things not happening.

 
At 6/11/2012 2:43 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

btw-

if that seems far fetched to you, spend a little time in a country like lebanon where the government's military is weak and the private armies are strong.

that is exactly the sort of thing that happens there in beirut or the bakka valley. much of africa is worse.

 
At 6/11/2012 4:22 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Morganovich

i think you are assuming that the world would be just as it is without enforceable law.

No. I just don't think we need a federal government to maintain enforceable law.

As for wars, just as in neighbourhoods, there is no reason why you couldn't have voluntary agreements. If you think about it, that's what allies are. We already have such a system.


you are also using an unfair debate technique by making me defend reality while you argue from pie in the sky theory.

i am NOT holding up our system as a paragon, and exemplar, nor perfect. you are trying to make that into a straw man.


No, that's not what's happening. What's happening is that you're for some reason getting very emotional about this and you're reading into what I'm saying. I am not (nor have I ever been) under the impression that you think the current system is a paragon of perfection nor have I ever accused you of believing that the current system is a paragon of perfection.

Where we disagree is in how much large central government is necessary to achieve the ends you (and I, frankly) want. I do NOT believe that there is such a thing as a paragon of perfection, only better or worse, not perfect and unacceptable. I'm asking you to consider alternatives to what we are accustomed because government has killed off other alternatives. But, that's all I'm asking of you.

i think you imagine that greenwich would still be greenwich without any government or police.

I imagine Greenwich would be a better Greenwich without the interference of a central government and if our police department were set up with different incentives. Local government in both cities where I live is pretty good - it has to be. It must compete to keep people there. The Federal government pretty much uses brute force to roll over people.

do you honestly believe that theft would not skyrocket absent the threat of arrest?

Why would you stop arresting people for theft? The absence of central government does not mean the absence of laws and the absence of justice. How do you suppose we have the legal system we have now? It evolved. People recognize certain things to be wrong (theft, fraud, murder) and find it proper to punish people who commit those crimes.


if that seems far fetched to you, spend a little time in a country like lebanon where the government's military is weak and the private armies are strong.

So, central government was not able to stop civil war. That's pretty much what you're saying. I have not been in Lebanon, but my sister-in-law, who is an Egyptian journalist - spent some time in the war zone in Lebanaon. The problems in Lebanon are much more complex than you're implying and they were not stopped by a central government.

 
At 6/11/2012 5:58 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

There is one other set of points of disagreement. I don't think the state performs the functions you think it does. I think it is the largest threat to property rights, not the biggest protection. I think it is the biggest threat to liberty. You think the state maintains rule of law, and I think it so plainly doesn't. What it should do and what it does do are in conflict.

So, that's what prompted me to seek alternatives.

 
At 6/12/2012 12:23 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

methinks-

again, you are using a straw man here.

you speak of what the role of the state SHOULD be and so do i. but then you try to make me defend that state as it IS.

i agree with you that it needs to be fixed. we're simply talking about what the fix is. we both want our rights defended, we just differ on how to best do that.

i'm not getting "emotional" about this. i'm trying to point out that the sort of anarcho-captalism you seem to champion has some really big holes in it and that you are making untenable assumptions about human nature and the way gangs form.

i think the system you posit would be less free than one with a strictly limited government.

also:

as it bears on one of your earlier arguments, i though you might find this interesting:

"Police officers in Indiana are upset over a new law allowing residents to use deadly force against public servants, including law enforcement officers, who unlawfully enter their homes. It was signed by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels in March.

The first of its kind in the United States, the law was adopted after the state Supreme Court went too far in one of its rulings last year, according to supporters. The case in question involved a man who assaulted an officer during a domestic violence call. The court ruled that there was “no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.”


that supreme court ruling may have been the worst since kelo.

nice to see some states asserting themselves here.

 
At 6/12/2012 3:30 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Morganovich,

but then you try to make me defend that state as it IS.

Sigh. I don't know what to tell you. You're telling me you think the state is a great protector of your property rights, I think it is the greatest threat to property rights - and I give you examples to explain why I think that. You're under no obligation to defend the state as is, although it would be helpful to know why in light of civil asset forfeiture, regulation and the IRS you still think the state protects property rights rather than threatens them.

I can live with the way you think the state SHOULD be. And we agree that the state overstepped its bounds long ago and by a lot. However, I don't think there's any practical way to reign in government. This government fought against its constitutional constraints and all governments are bound to do that. I see no practical way of keeping government restrained to its basic functions. If you have some ideas, please let me know.

i'm trying to point out that the sort of anarcho-captalism you seem to champion has some really big holes in it and that you are making untenable assumptions about human nature and the way gangs form.

You're not pointing anything out. You're merely stating this is so. And what "sort" of anarcho-capitalism am I championing? Describe to me what you think I'm advocating. I don't believe I've said enough for you to assert that you understand what "sort" of anarcho-capitalism I'm championing.

i think the system you posit would be less free than one with a strictly limited government.

Wonderful. Now, how do you plan to limit the government? I think "strictly limited government" is fantasy. No government in the history of governments has ever remained limited - although, the smaller the government the less reach it has. It's not that France doesn't have desire to extract taxes from citizens who don't live in France, it's just that it doesn't have the resources to go after them. How do you plan to limit the U.S. government?

As for the police case, that's nice. I guess. I'm not sure I want to get into a gun fight with policemen dressed in riot gear. I'm not saying it's not a step in the right direction, but it's not likely to pass in New York and it would be much better if the consequences for unlawful entry were much more expensive for the police force - like jail time, loss of pension, huge fines, etc.

 
At 6/12/2012 3:33 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

You're under no obligation to defend the state as is, although it would be helpful to know why in light of civil asset forfeiture, regulation and the IRS you still think the state protects property rights rather than threatens them.

that makes no sense as written.

What I mean is that you're under no obligation to defend all aspects of the state as it is or anything (really), but so long as we've entered this discussion, it would be interesting to know why you think the state is such a champion of your property rights in light of civil asset forfeiture, regulation and the IRS.

 

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