Timothy Sandefur

The Permission Society

How the Ruling Class Turns Our Freedoms into Privileges and What We Can Do About It

Encounter Books 2016

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in EconomicsNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & Society January 16, 2017 Ian Drake

Timothy Sandefur’s new book, The Permission Society: How the Ruling Class Turns Our Freedoms into Privileges and What We Can Do About It (Encounter...

Timothy Sandefur’s new book, The Permission Society: How the Ruling Class Turns Our Freedoms into Privileges and What We Can Do About It (Encounter Books, 2016) is an argument against the restrictions on individual liberty by local, state and federal governments. Sandefur, the Vice President of Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, contends that the politics of the Progressive Era in America resulted in a faith in experts and empirical data that held the promise of a well-managed society. But Sandefur contends that such a well-intentioned effort resulted in laws that actually mismanaged many aspects of society and resulted in injustices. For example, the Civil Rights Movement was not only hindered by racism, but also by laws and regulations, such as licensure laws that raised barriers to entry in new trades and zoning laws that restricted affordable housing stock. Sandefur also reviews the importance of courts in recognizing and protecting individual liberties against such laws. Sandefur seeks to persuade readers that liberty from the ability to engage in business without significant costs mandated by the government, to the freedom to try experimental drugs that have not yet gained federal approval should not be regarded as a privilege bestowed by the government. Instead, he contends that liberty is a right possessed by all people regardless of their political or economic power.


Ian J. Drake is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His scholarly interests include American legal and constitutional history and political theory.
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