Why, Mark Lipse provocatively asks, does misery and oppression grip so much of humanity when, “for the first time in human history,” we are blessed “with all the essential ingredients for elevating and improving the human condition on a global scale…?” His even more provocative answer is “misgovernment,” which he calls “the single most important source of human tragedy.”
Governing badly, for Lipse, is government that overreaches and ignores, if not crushes, individual natural rights. It is government based on the mistaken but growing notion that unlimited government is the single path to prosperity and individual liberty.
Taking a global view, Lipse catalogues “predatory” government actions that unintentionally or maliciously chain millions and millions of people around the world to miserable lives. Chief among them are crushing regulations and public debt that suffocate entrepreneurial creativity, energy and risk-taking.
A prime example is burdensome licensing regulations that deny those seeking a better life entry into profitable and legal occupations. He cites research showing that getting approval for a simple, two sewing-machine garment shop in Peru took an astonishing 289 days and cost 31 times the average monthly minimum wage. Getting rid of such oppressive entry regulations would unleash trillions of dollars of now-shackled capital, commerce and industry.
Misgovernment is a deeply researched and lucidly argued work that elevates it above today’s usual political bombast. Sometimes-repetitious text occasionally prompts readers to skip ahead; tighter editing would have improved the reading experience. Also, those holding opposing viewpoints will find much to argue with: for example, the bold, sweeping assertion that misgovernment’s meddling with the economy “perpetuates poverty, exclusion, corruption and humiliation.”
Nonetheless, readers will be intellectually challenged by the author’s extensive excursions into political philosophy, law and economics, and the book encourages the kind of calm, rational discourse so often absent today.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.