When it comes to unequal contests, the individual versus the state is the ultimate David and Goliath story. Much of the power that modern states have over us is wielded through mountains of regulations designed not to keep us safe, but to micromanage our lives. Yet as Charles Murray argues in this thought-provoking interview, “The only way the government can get away with that is by overwhelming voluntary compliance. And what we need is some pushback.”
Rolling back regulatory overreach through the system itself has little chance of succeeding, he thinks. What he has in mind instead is widespread civil disobedience backed up by legal defence funds set up to challenge unnecessary and excessive regulations. By imposing costs on bureaucrats, this would force governments to reconsider which regulations are actually worth enforcing.
In addition to describing some of the steps that led to overregulation in the United States, Murray also discusses such issues as the changing nature of the labour market, the stagnation of wages for certain kinds of jobs, the idea of replacing the welfare state with a basic guaranteed income, and conscientiousness as an increasingly valuable trait in an employee.
Whatever the topic, Murray is a defender of autonomy and self-determination. “I want to make it easier for people to live their lives as they see fit, as long as they aren’t harming anyone else. And you know what? An awful lot of what the government does now has nothing to do with us harming other people.”
Links of interest: American Enterprise Institute | By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission