It will be the most stimulating if you’re a newcomer, of course, because you’ll be introduced to a way of thinking about politics and the world that turns the conventional wisdom on its head. We’re told from a young age that a coercive government is necessary to do so much: protect us from foreign and domestic criminals, stop the rich from exploiting the poor, ensure that people’s basic needs are met, keep our food and medicine safe, and on and on. Chartier challenges the reader to consider whether the exact opposite is true, whether the state has actually made things much worse than they otherwise would be in all of these areas.
.. the typical statist leftist “knows,” and believes that every informed person knows, that government is necessary to do certain things — for example, to make sure that that poor people have enough food to eat. Thus, if a libertarian says “we should abolish government,” the statist leftist hears this as “we should stop doing what is necessary to make sure poor people have enough food to eat.” Thus, the leftist concludes that the libertarian is crazy, ignorant, or just doesn’t care about poor people starving. To the statist leftist, it appears that the libertarian is content to let many people die because of his devotion to an abstract principle — or maybe just because he wants the government to get its hands out of his wallet. And that seems wrong.
A libertarian of course sees a mistaken premise in that line of thinking: In fact, government is not necessary to ensure that the poor have enough to eat. Moreover, the libertarian believes that without government there would be much less poverty and people at the lower end of the economic spectrum would enjoy a much higher standard of living.