Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Review: An Island Called Liberty

I can’t believe I have not before now reviewed the wonderful libertarian children’s book, An Island Called Liberty by Joseph Specht. My youngest daughter actually brought this oversight to my attention a few days ago. This book should be owned by all liberty-loving parents.
The story starts out as the islanders are living a live-and-let-live life on Liberty Island. They are accepting of the preferences and choices of their fellow islanders and as long as one’s actions don’t violate someone else’s rights, the government does not interfere. In fact, there are only two laws: (1) keep your promises (enforce contracts) and (2) don’t harm others or their property. In other words, Liberty islanders live by the Libertarian non-aggression principle.
Unfortunately, this free and prosperous island is turned into a burdensome welfare state due to the well meaning intentions of some. It begins when compassionate Flo thinks there should be a better way to help those who need help. Even though the needy are being helped by private charity, that does not matter to do-gooder Flo as some are not contributing their “fair share.” She convinces the citizens of Liberty to pass a law so everyone will pay to help the poor. This leads to the creation of a bureaucracy to administer the program.
Once the precedent has been set, more and more well intended government programs are added over the years. And with these programs come higher taxes, bigger government, and increased regulation. In the end, the burden of bigger government is too much and the industrious islanders soon stop producing, thus the comparison to Atlas Shrugged some reviews have made.
In the end, the good citizens of Liberty realize the error of their ways and go back to smaller government and doing for themselves. But there is a warning for them and for us,
“But don’t think such lessons live on forever,
You see, despite that their kids were outstandingly clever,
The lesson they learned from way back when,
Eventually faded . . . and it happened again.”

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