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Opening Arguments

Five books

Mitch Daniels on the five books that most influenced his political thinking: F.A. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom," "Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose," Charles Murray's "What it Means to be a Libertarian," Mancur Olson's "The Rise and Decline of Nations" and Virginia Postrel's "The Future and its Enemies."

It's an interesting collection that shows Daniels' thinking is focused on the libertarian-conservative dynamic being  discussed in some center-right circles these days.  And it's interesting that the discussion starts with Hayek, whose arguments against central planning so energize the right and enrage the left, and ends with Postrel, who tries to go beyond left and right by showing how many in both camps fear and resist change and are so willing to use centrally controlled power to prevent it.

Hayek's book is in my Kindle now, and it's a fascinating polemic to read, because we've had some experience that can corroborate or refut his contentions. He wasn't entirely accurate in his fear that central planning leads inexorably to totalitarianism -- how would we explain Scandinavia if that were so? -- but he's still a compelling read on the dangers of letting our freedom be traded away bit by bit (it was Benjamin Franklin who warned way back at the beginning of our national experiment that when "the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic"). Postrel's book is my favorite on the list because she attempted to bring a new perspective to the current partisan divide with her "stasists vs. dynamists" dichotomy. That seems to be also what attracted Daniels to the book:

They struggle to put a label on us because we look a little different and we don't throw around the terms that are usually used in politics. I sometimes use her nomenclature


Sat, 07/10/2010 - 6:18pm

People who know Daniels well, and you and I share some of them as friends, know that "The Bell Curve" is at the top of his list.
He's too politically savvy to admit it.
At least he didn't do what every other politician, left or right, does: He didn't claim the Bible as his favorite book.
My experience is that religious people almost never read the Bible, but skeptics do (I've read it several times). But we're just looking for contradictions.
If you've ever witnessed an atheist/theist debate, you know who has actually read the Bible.