By J.R. Dunn, Harper, $25.99, 302 pages
I must start with a disclaimer. I’m one of those people the J. R. Dunn is talking about in his book: Death by Liberalism. His premise is that liberalism is at fault for a long list of government programs that he blames for millions of deaths from unintended consequences. Though sometimes he strongly implies that the consequences are intended, as he says in the last chapter, as part of a plan to depopulate the earth. He cites the works of Thomas Malthus, James Lovelock and Paul and Anne Ehrlich as evidence of a grand conspiracy of evil liberals to decimate the population by such draconian means as putting something in the water. Oh, and how much does Barack Obama espouse these methods?
It is indeed, hard to defend government actions all the time. Government can be a blunt force when precision is needed. Mr. Dunn’s best case is DDT, a chemical which is very effective against insect disease vectors particularly Malaria mosquitoes and lice. I agree that it seems overkill to ban DDT everywhere under all circumstances when millions of people are sick or dead as a result. The operative word is “seems.” Many other examples follow, from automotive CAFÉ standards to euthanasia.
This is a work of polemics. As such, it is well researched with an extensive bibliography. It was a difficult read for me, but for anyone leaning toward Mr. Dunn’s viewpoint, it will seem thoughtful and profound. In either case, it was a worthwhile exposition of one person’s opinion on matters of historical import.
Reviewed by Norman West