Most of this book was written between 1967 and 1973, when the first edition was published. I have made only minor changes to the existing material in the belief that the issues and arguments have not changed substantially over the past fifteen years. In some cases the reader will find the examples dated; Chapter 17, for example, was written when Ronald Reagan was governor of California. Where this seemed to be a serious problem I have updated examples or added explanatory comments, but in most places I have left the original text unaltered. Most current examples will not remain current very long; hopefully this book will outlast the present governor of California as well.
I have followed the same policy with regard to numbers. Figures for the number of heroin addicts in New York or U.S. Steel’s share of the steel industry describe the situation as of about 1970, when the first edition was being written. When looking at such numbers, you should remember that prices and nominal incomes were about a third as high in 1970 as in 1988, when this preface is being written. Numbers that are purely hypothetical (“If a working wife can hire an Indian maid, who earned … dollars a year in India…”), on the other hand, have been updated to make them more plausible to a modern reader. The appendices have also been updated, mostly by my friend Jeff Hummel.
These are all minor changes. The major difference between this edition and the first is the inclusion of eight new chapters, making up Part IV of the book.
One thing I should perhaps have explained in my original preface, and which has puzzled some readers since, is the apparent inconsistency among the chapters. In Chapter 10, for instance, I advocate a voucher system in which tax monies are used to subsidize schooling but in Part III I argue for a society with no government, no taxes, and therefore no vouchers.
Part II of the book is intended to suggest specific reforms within the structure of our present institutions that would produce desirable results while moving us closer to a libertarian society. A voucher system, which moves us from schooling paid for and produced by government to schooling paid for by government but produced on a competitive market, is one such reform. In Part III I try to describe what a full-fledged anarcho-capitalist society might look like and how it would work. Part III describes a much more radical change from our present institutions than Part II while Part II describes how the first steps of that radical change might come about.
One reason for writing a book like this is to avoid having to explain the same set of ideas a hundred times to a hundred different people. One of the associated rewards is discovering, years later, people who have incorporated my ideas into their own intellectual framework. This second edition is dedicated to one such person. I cannot honestly describe him as a follower or a disciple, since most of our public encounters have been debates. I believe that his best-known views are wrong and possibly dangerous. He is merely someone who starts out already knowing and understanding everything I had to say on the subjects of this book as of 1973, which makes the ensuing argument very much more interesting.
For which reason this second edition is dedicated to Jeffrey Rogers Hummel.