Founding Principles Needed to Save Liberty from Unchecked Government Power: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
September 3, 2019

Founding Principles Needed to Save Liberty from Unchecked Government Power
New Book Shows How to Restore Freedom to Americans

(Oakland, CA) The United States of America was, as Lincoln famously said, “conceived in liberty”—but less than two centuries later equality (“socialism!”) dominates our political rhetoric. And that seismic shift from liberty and self-governance to unchecked political “democracy” has had profound implications for every area of public life—not all of them beneficial.

So says renowned economist RANDALL G. HOLCOMBE in his startling new book Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History,published today by the Independent Institute (Oakland, California).

Liberty in Peril tells the story of this remarkable transformation—and the often-ignored threat it poses to individual rights and constitutional checks on the immense power wielded by the Administrative State.

How did this drastic change happen? Holcombe points first to the presidency of Andrew Jackson and a new brand of American populism that washed over America with his election in 1828.

Next up—the Civil War, which Holcombe calls the War Between the States. A bloated Federal government was needed to win that conflict for the Union—and to put the defeated Southern states under military dictatorship for the better part of twenty years. Add to that list Progressivism, two world wars, the Great Depression, and Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” and we reach today’s omnicompetent state.

But all is not lost, according to Holcombe. Liberty in Peril provides the intellectual tools badly needed to restore the primacy of individual rights and, as the preamble to the Constitution promises, “secure the blessings of liberty.” This book is indeed essential reading for all those who care about America and the future of freedom and self-governance.

To interview Randall Holcombe, contact [email protected]

Questions for Randall G. Holcombe:

■ Your book seems to paint a negative picture of “democracy.” Isn’t that rather un-American?

■ There is a lot of talk these days about doing away with the electoral college, electing the president by direct popular vote. Why is this a bad idea?

■ Government grew substantially in the twentieth century, but isn’t a lot of that growth just a response to an increasingly advanced and complex society?

■ You say that “democracy” triumphed with Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.” Why is that a bad thing?

■ Isn’t Social Security fundamentally a good program?

■ How can we end interest-group politics and protect civil and economic liberties in America?

CREDENTIALS: Randall G. Holcombe is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, past President of the Public Choice Society, and past President of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics. Author of twelve books, Dr. Holcombe was a member of the Florida Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors from 2000-2006. He focuses his research on public finance and the economic analysis of public policy issues.
Availability: Tallahassee, Florida. Also via telephone and online.


The Independent Institute is a non-profit, research, and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit For media inquiries, contact Communications Manager Rob Ade: [email protected]; (510) 632-1366, ext. 114.

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