Perhaps the most valid justification of government is its defense of citizens against foreign aggressors. But when governments wage war, a thin line separates defense and offense. And even in a defensive war, governments typically deprive their own citizens of many liberties. Historically, war has done more than anything else to enhance the power of governments and to diminish the liberties of the people. Classical liberals have always recognized the dangers of war and supported policies, such as free international trade, that reduce the likelihood of war.
It’s no secret to libertarians that the state has influenced the way we live in both obvious and subliminal ways. Yet even many libertarians pay little attention to the myriad ways the state intervenes in our showers, cars, and bedrooms. From the seemingly most benign things like low-flow shower heads or 1.6gpf toilets, to the most annoying things like pointless traffic control devices, the state has made our lives a living hell.
Jeffrey Tucker has turned a living hell upside down by writing a book about subverting the state by living outside its grip (as much as possible). Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo is a pleasure to read. The week it was published I downloaded it for $0 on my iPad. I finished it in two days.
That never happens.
It was that good.
Why? Okay, let me tell you:
- Bourbon for Breakfast is not your typical book about liberty. It isn’t a treatise about why the state is evil (Mises.org has plenty of publications for that). It isn’t a compilation of all the reasons why libertarianism or anarcho-capitalism is a better world view or economic theory. Tucker has written a book that is about everyday life. It isn’t very “preachy,” but it has plenty to say about the rottenness of the state.
- This is a story book. That is, each chapter is an essay about everyday life, not about some pie-in-the-sky complaint about why seat belt laws or liquor laws are annoying. It is profound in both its content and delivery.
- You can read the book at your leisure, picking up where you left off without really “missing” anything. This is an attractive solution for those who are already committed to many other and perhaps thicker books, and don’t really want another book added to their nightstand. While you won’t want to put it down for very long, the arrangement of the book is capable of acquiescing to your need to come back later, without regret, if you must.
- Tucker’s writing is witty, insightful, and immensely practical. The morning after I read the chapter about hot water heaters and their temperature limitation, just a turn of the screw solved problems in our household. Now our dishes are clean, our showers are blissful, and I have the satisfaction of defying the state’s absurd home-invading laws.
- Each chapter is both fresh and refreshing. Tucker doesn’t bore the reader with similar stories that say roughly the same thing in a different manner. While some stories are interconnected or follow-ups to previous ones, each stands on its own.
- Libertarians can share this book with non-libertarian friends without coming off as proselytizing.
So what are you waiting for?!