Declaration of Independents

How Many Books Are "worth buying simply for the excellent account of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978"?


Ira Stoll, late of The New York Sun and currently manning the excellent Future of Capitalism site, reviews Matt Welch and my libertarian manifesto:

There are some really strong sections of this book. I liked this sentence: "To assume that the hungry will starve, the naked will go unclothed, and the ignorant will remain uneducated if government spending declines as a percentage of GDP is as misguided as assuming no one would go to church absent a state religion."

The authors also focus in an unusual (for journalists) and disapproving way on the vote to approve the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which they describe as "the George W. Bush-led, bipartisan, trillion-dollar bailout of the undeserving financial industry in late 2008, with its open-ended invitations to nationalize whole swaths of the economy, starting with the mortgage-lending business," and "the hinge point of our modern era."

The book is worth buying simply for the excellent account of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and of Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher's challenge to a Civil Aeronautics Board that had, between 1950 and 1974, denied all 79 applications it had received from firms wishing to enter the interstate air transport industry. The same four airlines — United, Eastern, American, and TWA — had dominated American passenger aviation for the 40 years since the 1938 Civil Aeronautics Act. After deregulation, there were more flights, they cost less, more Americans flew, and there was no adverse effect on safety….

Stoll does not let us off unscathed:

For all its many strengths, though, this book also disappointed me at times. The chapter on rock music may appeal to people who know more about it than I do. Foreign policy is treated glancingly. "Despite the abject horror of the 9/11 attacks, radical Islamic terrorism is no serious threat to our way of life or even the future of the globe," the authors write, with no reference to, say, Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Finally, take the claim that libertarianism will win out because socialism, or big-government at the level we now have it in America, is unaffordable. While perhaps comforting on some level, this line of reasoning nonetheless strikes me as falling short of being fully satisfactory. What if we weren't out of money?… for a libertarianism that reaches to core American principles and values rather than just situational budget-cutting (which, don't get me wrong, would be a fine and welcome start), it's a question that has to be asked and answered.

Whole thing here.

Here's a roundup of other recent reviews, etc.