So I saw today’s column by George Will of the WP about a new book that I definitely want to read: “The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America” by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. Will’s summary alone is a (much-better-worded) statement of something I’ve thought about since taking a course about analysis and different types of bias a couple of years ago: existence bias. Existence bias, as described by Will (about the book of course) is the American peoples’ and systems’ assumption that if something exists, it will continue to exist. In the military I’ve already referred to this as the “no we can’t change it; we do it that way because it’s the way we’ve always done it” bias, and no matter how you tag it, like most biases, it’s caused and reinforced by mental laziness.
The review also points out how the younger generation today has essentially grown up in a libertarian-type culture, where choice exists for everything: don’t like what’s on tv? thousands of channels, plus streaming movies. Music? Pandora, XM, Sirius. 3,500 books at any time on your Kindle, and access to every newspaper in the world. But government? The great ossified behemoth that never changes. In fact, when it fails, it grows larger and even more powerful. And apparently the book argues that this situation won’t be able to stand for much longer. I wonder if Gillespie and Welch have considered getting their data together with Malcolm Gladwell (of The Tipping Point fame) to see if they can figure out the how and when?
Even though I haven’t read the book yet, I can already see having some issues with it, the biggest being the definition of Libertarianism. Libertarians span a very wide gauntlet ranging from pseudo-conservatives, across the span of small government covering only infrastructure and basic services, to full-out anarchists. Almost anyone who’s not far rght or left could be considered one. Nonetheless, I’m willing to give the book the benefit of the doubt until I’ve gotten through it, and we’ll see what falls out. I’m looking forward to it.