October 30th, 2020

Me 2

A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears)A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I have long felt that libertarianism was one of those ideas that was "simple, obvious, and wrong." This book should be Exhibit A in support of that proposition. In 2004, a group of libertarians moved to Grafton, New Hampshire, a town of barely 1500 people, with the avowed intention of taking over local government and making it a libertarian showcase. They succeeded, and it is a showcase of the failure of libertarianism.

To be fair, Grafton was somewhat quirky before the libertarians arrived. For example, it's fire department wasn't created until after WWII, decades after other communities had fire departments. But still, the pioneering libertarians took this quirkiness and dialed it to 11. This book is the entertaining but sad story of that transformation.

Let's talk about bears. New Hampshire, or so I learned, had always had a bear problem. Given the collapse of New England agriculture (94% of Grafton's farmland had been allowed to go wild) bear population was on the rise. But the libertarian culture made things worse, whether it was from people living in RVs with non-bearproof garbage cans to people actually feeding bears. (One of the characters in the book, the "doughnut lady" was feeding bears in her back yard, including doughnuts as treats.)

This lack of control has not gotten anybody killed yet. Not for lack of trying on the bear's part, mind you. They are no longer scared of humans and so there have been several bear attacks. Just due to sheer luck, no human has died from an attack, although several have been seriously mauled.

The subject of this book, a self-induced collapse of a town, is not a light subject and so it's not entirely a light read. It is an interesting read, and well-constructed.



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