By Greg Hopkins
Clash Daily Contributor
In Laura Carno’s book, Government Ruins Nearly Everything: Reclaiming Social Issues from Uncivil Servants, she derisively and correctly labels our culture as the “Mother, may I?” society. She believes in and teaches freedom. Carno clearly believes that the government that governs least, governs best, and she demonstrates it in this handy book. She points out that freedom is hard work, which may be why so few trouble to practice or are concerned about it. She calls for us to agree to get government off our collective back and sets forth a convincing case as to how and why. Carno is not just complaining here; she also has solid, workable proposals for accomplishing the goal of letting the free market into our lives as much as possible.
Carno begins by debunking the assurance, “This is for your own good.” She presents the irritations of our supposedly well-intentioned administrators with good humor and stark examples. Her first chapter demonstrates what I learned were the three biggest lies in the world: “The check’s in the mail.” ”I promise I’ll respect you in the morning.” “Hi! We’re from the government and we’re here to help!”
Carno then asks the vital question, “Who deserves your trust?” Milton Friedman long ago asked why we are to assume that those who govern are angels endowed with perfectly benign intent and wisdom not granted to us as we live our little lives. What makes them a better judge of what’s good for us than ourselves? Carno compares and contrasts the Democratic and Republican platforms with an important caveat on both. She shows that the Democrats are “Top-down except when” while the Republicans are “Bottom-up except when”. She proves that neither party is consistent nor has any real convictions except the determination to wield power. This is why I ceased to be a Republican after Reagan left office.
Chapters 4 & 5 are the philosophical heart of Carno’s argument. She holds that the free market usually works, while government “solutions” rarely do. Carno exposes the inevitable incentives for government workers to avoid solving problems in favor of expanding their funding and power. She then identifies four “Fireworks Issues” in American politics: Failing Schools, Gun Violence, Reducing the Number of Abortions, and Fixing Broken Marriages. Not only are these two chapters a fun read, they whet your appetite for what’s coming next.
Before tackling her “Fireworks Issues,” Carno presents four free-market solutions that government could neither have come up with nor matched in efficiency: the successes of 3-D printing, Uber, Airbnb, and LASIK surgery. They are all in-your-face examples of how entire industries recently sprouted to meet market needs in innovative ways. Most of all, success came for each without government’s help.
Having established the advantages of free-market innovation, Carno then examines her four “Fireworks Issues” and demonstrates that government “remedies” over decades have not improved them, and in some cases, have made them worse. She takes each in turn, sharing how each could and has benefited from free-market solutions. This is where Carno really gets you to stop and think about her proposals. You may not agree with her, but you cannot ignore the strength of her arguments.
Who could this book help most? Millennials, I think. First, it’s short: only137 pages. (We’re not plowing through Atlas Shrugged here.) Its chapters are short, with crisp subject matter headings that make it easy to follow or to find something you wish to cite or reread. It’s a book that a person with a tech-induced, short attention span won’t put aside as too daunting to try.
I also think Carno’s non-traditional approach to the subjects of marriage and abortion will be highly attractive to Millennials, many of whom aren’t devoted to conservative views on either subject. It will help them break out of the thought pattern that says government must be involved in every problem.
In short, this is a book that can change hearts and minds. I plan to get a copy for my college-aged daughter, who is little interested in politics but very interested in good ideas. Government Ruins Nearly Everything is a good book to share with others and add to your library.
You can find Carno’s book on Amazon.
Image: Screen Grab: https://www.amazon.com/Government-Ruins-Nearly-Everything-Reclaiming/dp/0692672753/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488169175&sr=1-1&keywords=laura+carno