December 31, 2015 Print

The growth and abuses of government provide an unending field of study, and the economist and historian Robert Higgs has brought his inexorable insight to the subject for decades. His many books, journal articles, and blog entries have pioneered new frameworks for analyzing the causes and consequences of public-sector malfeasance. Atlas Network partner the Independent Institute recently published Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy, a new book by Higgs that brings “his most provocative, most diverse, and most personal” writing together in an engaging collection of essays.

“When it comes to how, why, and when government grows there is no better scholar than Robert Higgs,” wrote the late John Blundell, past Atlas Network president and board member. “His Crisis and Leviathan (1987) has a very clear, crisp framework. It outlines the many reasons why government grows, as well as the countless occasions of government expansion, from modernization, public goods, and the welfare state, to political redistribution, ideology, and crisis.”

Taking a Stand features Higgs holding forth on a dizzying array of topics in 99 short chapters, including the defects of democracy and partisan politics, the myth of tacit consent to governance, economic development, public choice economics, regime uncertainty, macroeconomics and Federal Reserve policy, labor markets, historical revisionism, the economic effects of World War II, and much more.

“In his lectures all over the world and in his scholarly writings, no one has chronicled all this with more intellectual credibility and using more cogent reasoning than Bob Higgs,” wrote legal scholar Judge Andrew Napolitano in the foreword to Taking a Stand. “Indeed, to legal and economic scholars and to historians who challenge the modern-day behemoth in Washington, D.C., Bob’s work is the standard against which others should be measured, and one to which we all refer on a regular basis.”