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Design for Liberty

Design for Liberty

Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law

Richard A. Epstein

ISBN 9780674061842

Publication date: 11/15/2011

Following a vast expansion in the twentieth century, government is beginning to creak at the joints under its enormous weight. The signs are clear: a bloated civil service, low approval ratings for Congress and the President, increasing federal-state conflict, rampant distrust of politicians and government officials, record state deficits, and major unrest among public employees.

In this compact, clearly written book, the noted legal scholar Richard Epstein advocates a much smaller federal government, arguing that our over-regulated state allows too much discretion on the part of regulators, which results in arbitrary, unfair decisions, rent-seeking, and other abuses. Epstein bases his classical liberalism on the twin pillars of the rule of law and of private contracts and property rights—an overarching structure that allows private property to keep its form regardless of changes in population, tastes, technology, and wealth. This structure also makes possible a restrained public administration to implement limited objectives. Government continues to play a key role as night-watchman, but with the added flexibility in revenues and expenditures to attend to national defense and infrastructure formation.

Although no legal system can eliminate the need for discretion in the management of both private and public affairs, predictable laws can cabin the zone of discretion and permit arbitrary decisions to be challenged. Joining a set of strong property rights with sound but limited public administration could strengthen the rule of law, with its virtues of neutrality, generality, clarity, consistency, and forward-lookingness, and reverse the contempt and cynicism that have overcome us.

Praise

  • This new book by the NYU law school professor and senior Hoover fellow is yet another in a long stream of magnificent defenses of the free market, in which the problem of how best to reduce and streamline public administration is brilliantly addressed.

    —Walter Block, Barron’s

Author

  • Richard A. Epstein is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Law and Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of, among other books, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain; Simple Rules for a Complex World; Design for Liberty: Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law; and The Dubious Morality of Modern Administrative Law.

Book Details

  • 248 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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