Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Cult of the Presidency

The Imperial Presidency of George Bush may trample on the Constitution, ignore the Bill of Rights and invent new powers for itself. But Bush wasn't the first president to do nor will he be the last. In his provocative new book, The Cult of the Presidency, Gene Healy argues that the fault lies not in our leaders but in ourselves. When our scholars lionize presidents who break free from constitutional restraints, when our columnists and talking heads repeatedly call upon the “commander in chief ” to dream great dreams and seek the power to achieve them—when voters look to the president for salvation from all problems great and small—should we really be surprised that the presidency has burst its constitutional bonds and grown powerful enough to threaten American liberty?

The Cult of the Presidency takes a step back from the ongoing red team/blue team combat and shows that, at bottom, conservatives and liberals agree on the boundless nature of presidential responsibility. For both camps, it is the president’s job to grow the economy, teach our children well, provide seamless protection from terrorist threats, and rescue Americans from spiritual malaise. Very few Americans seem to think it odd, says Healy, “when presidential candidates talk as if they’re running for a job that’s a combination of guardian angel, shaman, and supreme warlord of the earth.”

Healy takes aim at that unconfined conception of presidential responsibility, identifying it as the source of much of our political woe and some of the gravest threats to our liberties. If the public expects the president to heal everything that ails us, the president is going to demand—or seize—the power necessary to handle that responsibility.

Interweaving historical scholarship, legal analysis, and trenchant cultural commentary, The Cult of the Presidency traces America’s decades-long drift from the Framers’ vision for the presidency: a constitutionally constrained chief magistrate charged with faithful execution of the laws. Restoring that vision will require a Congress and a Court willing to check executive power, but Healy emphasizes that there is no simple legislative or judicial “fix” to the problems of the presidency. Unless Americans change what we ask of the office—no longer demanding what we should not want and cannot have—we’ll get what, in a sense, we deserve.

This title has our highest recommendation.

Hardback, 368 pages, list price $22.95. Our price $16.50. To order please call 1-800-326-0996.

NOTICE: If you wish to order this book from us you can only order it by calling us. You can not order the book through our shop at Amazon. For reasons which have yet to be explained Amazon has restricted our selling of this book. They tell us it is "ineligible" for inclusion in our list of books. We have almost 500 titles listed in our Amazon shop and this is the first time we have been told we can't list a specific book.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Mind of the Market

Michael Shermer is the editor of The Skeptic magazine and an advocate of reason and science. In his newest book The Mind of the Market Shermer outlines how markets act and evolve much the way nature acts and evolves. Capitalism is a natural system which evolves through natural selection.

What is often forgotten is that Darwinian evolution and Smithian markets both show how order can evolve naturally from competition and innovation. To oppose capitalism makes about as much sense as being against photosynthesis.

Laissez Faire is happy to offer Michael Shermer’s new book The Mind of the Market. But we are also thrilled to have DVDs of his presentation to the Cato Institute about the his new book. This is an excellent introduction to the book and a good companion to it.

Hardback, 308 pages, list price $26.00. LFB price $23.95.
DVD, 60 minutes, $14.95

Special Offer: Book and DVD, normal price $40.95. Buy both from LFB for $29.95.

To order call 1-800-326-0996.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Zimbabwe: The Death of a Dream

Zimbabwe: The Death of a Dream is a Laissez Faire Books exclusive. The world has been watching the corruption and petty thuggery of Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe. But most people ignored the warning signs for decades.

When Mugabe came to power the world applauded. The Los Angeles Times said “with Mugabe at the helm the future of Zimbabwe... is brighter now than at any other time in the past two decades.” We now see how dreary that future was. Margaret Thatcher praised Mugabe when he came to power and The Economist said: “Race relations are sunny.” In just a few short years all that optimism turned to tears.

But very few press accounts can tell you how or why this happened. They don’t explain how it was a series of government blunders by Mugabe that dragged Zimbabwe down. They don’t tell you that right from the start Mugabe considered himself a radical Marxist who promised to impose one party rule on Zimbabwe. They don’t tell you how they pooh-poohed those facts when they first were made public years ago. The crisis in Zimbabwe was in the making for decades but the media portrayed Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s saviour.

And when the whole charade fell apart in 2000 they misreported the facts. What was portrayed as an attack on “white farmers” was not that at all. The target was not a small number of white farmers but the tens of thousands of black voters who lived on the white farms. The farms provided them homes, schools and clinics. They were out of reach to Mugabe’s armed thugs and couldn’t be intimidated by force nor bribe by government “services”. The white farmers were attacked because they stood between Mugabe and black voters. This fact escaped most the media.

Zimbabwe: The Death of Dream explains in easy-to-read chapters how and why the collapse of Zimbabwe came about. But it does much more. It explains the role of “envy” in the socialist politics and how Mugabe used “hatred of the good for being the good” to create his dictatorship. It shows how Mugabe attacked all successful elements of his society, not just white farmers. Black businessmen, the educated, teachers, etc., were all objects of attack by Mugabe’s armed agents.

Jammed with facts this very readable book gives a libertarian perspective to an issue that is now prominent in the news. Written a few years ago it warned of the current crisis, predicted the famines that now plague Zimbabwe and accurately predicted how the crisis in Zimbabwe would be played out in South Africa as well.

The author, Jim Peron, is now general manager for Laissez Faire Books. His articles on African politics have been published around the world including the Wall Street Journal (Europe). Paperback, 152 pages, $14.95.

Bonus: Jim’s other book, Die, the Beloved Country? chronicles the decline of South Africa under the first years of governance by the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela. Also available for $14.95 the two books can be purchased as a package deal for $22.95 from Laissez Faire. To order call 1 800 326 0996.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A few days off

Our offices will be closed for a few days. We are rapidly running out of space and are scounting for new offices for the next few days. When we are back this message will be removed.