In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government

Charles Murray, Author Simon & Schuster $19.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-61100-2
Murray, a senior research fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the author of Losing Ground , launches a relentlessly unfocussed argument which includes the thesis that Jeffersonian democracy is perfectly applicable in the contemporary United States. Assuming that the pursuit of happiness should be a criterion in making public policy, he explores the enabling conditions of that pursuit (access to material resources, safety, self-respect prominent among them), then draws a fuzzy linkage between them and the concepts of challenge, competency and autonomy. His conclusion is that the pursuit of happiness is rooted in Edmund Burke's ``little platoons'' of work, family and community, and that the government, in order to encourage, nourish and protect these elemental functions, should keep interference to a minimum. He argues for ``a radically more decentralized and limited government.'' Alas, Murray does not say how this might be brought about. First serial to National Review; Conservative Book Club dual main selection. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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