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Randy England is a Catholic writer and criminal defense lawyer in central Missouri. He is a former prosecutor and the author of Unicorn in the Sanctuary (Tan Books) and the end times novel, The Last Fisherman: A novel of the last Pope, the anti-christ and the end of the age.
on Sep. 10, 2014 :
Like the latter adjective in its title, Free Is Beautiful, this book—insofar as it is a clear and well-argued introduction not only to libertarian theory itself but also to the close correspondence of libertarianism with true Catholic teaching—is also beautiful. Consequently, Randy England was able to harmonize libertarianism with Catholicism. In so doing, he accomplished for libertarianism what Thomas Aquinas did for Aristotle approximately 750 years ago. So now, like the famous Dr. Evil of the Austin Powers films, shall I poke my finger into my cheek and say it aloud? “Randy England deserves a million dollars!”
I was particularly impressed by the way the author addressed the question of abortion in libertarian theory. Here, perhaps more so than in any other section of the book, he was able to explore the vital, sometimes complex, and frequently divisive and emotional issue of abortion in a straightforward, logical, and compelling manner—all while simultaneously respecting both the pristine doctrine of the libertarian non-aggression axiom and upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church. More specifically, Randy England presented the key points of an important 1978 article authored by Father Sadowsky, a libertarian professor emeritus of philosophy at Fordham University. The article was published in the journal Libertarian Forum, and until I read this book, it had escaped my notice. I had previously considered myself well schooled in this topic, having read extensively the writings of two key libertarian theorists—Professor Murray N. Rothbard and Professor Walter Block. Despite this, I had not been aware of the convincing arguments of Father Sadowsky, and it has justified a long-felt concern of mine. This chapter alone—as well as its references—is more than adequate compensation for the price of this book. Furthermore, it furnishes an argument that libertarians and non-libertarians, whether Catholic or not, simply cannot ignore if they want to confront this issue in an honest and comprehensive way.
Bur Mr. England did not limit himself only to libertarian basics and a few theological issues. His book covers a spectrum of topics ranging from the concept of free choice, the meaning of genuine virtue, the value of unmolested free trade, and various applications of criminal and civil law. The author is, after all, an attorney. Readers will learn about everything from occupational licensing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the insane war on drugs—all of it shot through with references to Catholic teachings and insights into human nature that are well worth studying. Thank you, Mr. England. Now, people, buy this book! It’s available at Amazon and at Smashwords in both print and e-book formats.
(reviewed 13 days after purchase)
on Feb. 02, 2013 :
Although (as a protestant believer) I do not accept the authority of the Roman Church, I found Mr. England's work emminently readable and helpful.
My only real concern is that it is not radical enough. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek; modern libertarianism teaches us to not be the first to strike, aka non-agression. There is a significant gulf between the two which Mr. England does not cross adequately.
Regardless of that concern, Mr. England is plowing very fertile ground, and deserves wide readership. I therfore heartily recommend it to believers of any persuasion seeking truth with an open mind.
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)
on May 15, 2012 :
"There is no virtue in having government take one man's money by the threat of force and giving it to another. The taxpayer does nothing virtuous, except yield to overwhelming state power. As government welfare replaces charity, it becomes easy and natural to turn away from the poor and leave 'charity' to the government. Government destroys our capacity for generosity. [...] The government commands compliance, not virtue. What the government gives is not a gift; and he to whom the government gives is not grateful; he neither knows nor cares from whom the benefit was taken. The welfare system denies him the opportunity to appreciate the help or reciprocate in any way. [...] The state makes itself indispensable to the poor, subjugating them forever, with the waste from bureaucratic overhead so high as would make real charitable organizations blush with shame. Pope Benedict noted the same in Caritas in Veritate [no. 47]: 'At times ... those who receive aid become subordinate to the aid-givers, and the poor serve to perpetuate expensive bureaucracies which consume an excessively high percentage of the funds.'"
Randy England challenges those of all faiths who have a genuine care for those in need to abandon the modern administrative state. He makes a clear and thoughtful defense of pure libertarianism, which I believe will convince both liberals and conservatives to shift their views at least in part toward freedom.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on May 02, 2012 :
There is a widespread belief that Christians, specifically traditional Catholics, could not possibly be Libertarians. Randy England demonstrates the error of that belief in clear and concise discourse.
Beginning with the basis of Libertarianism, the non-aggression principal, Mr. England illustrates by argument and Catholic apology Libertarianism's congruence with Catholicism. Freedom, God's second great gift after life itself, is the core of both Traditional Catholicism and Libertarianism.
Mr. England's treatise explores the details of political Libertarianism and Catholic teachings in the contexts of dogma, property, the Right to Life and the criminal law in it's first part (five chapters). Citing Aquinas, St. Paul, Augustine, C.S. Lewis and even Bilbo Baggins (among others); and drawing from sources from the Old Testament to the New Catechism, Mr. England lays the basis for the inevitability of religious Catholics final embrace of the freedom of Libertarianism. While already a Libertarian, it was a comfort to be provided with the facts to support what I understood implicitly - that freely chosen religious belief spoils one for enforced constraint in areas outside the spiritual.
Part II of Mr. England's book is more practical and addresses the everyday issues of today's regulatory State. Those familiar with F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom understand the themes of economic control and the totalitarianism of collectivism as Mr. England discusses them. Free is Beautiful modernizes these themes for the 21st Century with its references to Homeland security, counterproductive licensing and economic strangulation by Byzantine regulatory schemes. It you have ever suspected that the "powers that be" actually are prohibiting everything free, fun and profitable (except for them), the proof of it is within the pages of this book.
Unwilling to just complain, Mr. England proposes both recognized Libertarian solutions for the "dangers" allegedly addressed by the strait jacket of Statist regulation and also his own novel transitional practices to shift from the status quo to a real Libertarian society. If there is any weakness in the book it is here where the author takes the leap from diagnosis to treatment. Regardless of any criticism of the particular tactics offered by Mr. England, it is refreshing to see an author with the courage to propose any path out of the peonage of modern American progressive Statism.
All and all, this is a fine book for freedom loving Catholics and even for those who don't think religious belief corresponds with Libertarian practices. For each group this book has value and is a fine addition to any thinking being's library.
(reviewed the day of purchase)