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Book Review: By the People, Charles Murray

By Andrew White | May 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Charles MurrayBy the PeopleBook Review

By the People, Charles Murray, 2015, Crown Forum.  I found ‘Coming Apart’, Mr. Murray’s previous book, insightful and compelling- up until the last part of that book where his recommendations for putting us back together, which were rather mediocre. This outing is as insightful and compelling too.

The first third of the book highlights the craziness that has become government regulation.  The premise of the book can be summed up by a quote from the last section:

“No other country throughout the history of the world began its existence with a charter focused on limiting the power of government and maximizing the freedom of its individual citizens.”

This part of the book will depress you as Murray lists the tyranny and lack of oversight that comes with regulation unfettered.  The unseen hand has been wrapping every aspect of life in red tape and we, the people, are now in a straight-jacket.  Even my oldest son just fell foul of a city ordinance that says no one can use a public field after dark.  To think I pay the salary of the police man trolling the park for young people just wanting to find some privacy from a lunatic world is beyond me. Clearly there is not enough crime to keep the law enforcement staff busy.

The second third of the book goes a little wayward as Mr Murray starts to explain how he proposes we can revert our country back to what it was meant to be.  The conclusion is that just voting in a group of ‘small government’ types won’t fix the problem: it is so ingrained.  So Murray develops ideas for how to make the change. I glossed over this part as it seemed OK, but not exactly inspiring.

The final third of the book summarizes some of his main points from Coming Apart.  I had not expected this but the content does fit and seems to support his overall argument for how everything changed between the 1930s and 1960s.  It was an easy read.

The stories and examples given, mostly in the first third of this book, are maddening, alarming, and downright daft.  We really have gone bananas.  Worse, we won’t all agree with this view. There are some of us that truly believe that the visible hand of government is there to protect the small guy from the big guy.  But we have gone way too far as some of us feel that we “know best”.  And this is the basis for all that then follows.  Because we lost the respect for the individual, sometime back between the 1930s and 1960s, what happened was probably inevitable.  Now we face a mountain and with only a paddle to help.  I hope America can find the courage to change and promote self-government, and governance, again.  Recommend (for the first third alone) 7 out of 10.

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