Reviewing the book for Boomberg Businessweek, Christopher Buckley found some pleasant surprises from a man once considered an intellectual lightweight:
These notes provide a portal into the—dare one say, fertile?—mind of one of the late 20th century’s great leaders. Two big themes run through them: a) the imperilment of individual liberty by growth of state power; and b) the oppressive taxation that the leviathan demands. In other words, as Goldwater once put it—though it’s strangely not included here—”A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.” Yet many of the sources that are included prove surprising for a so-called right-wing ideologue such as Reagan: “Every time that we try to lift a problem to the govt., to the same extent we are sacrificing the liberties of the people.” Irving Kristol? Actually, JFK. “Strike for the jugular. Reduce taxes and spending. Keep govt. poor and remain free.” Jack Kemp? Nope. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
I’ll bet anyone another (aftertax) dollar they won’t guess the provenance of this one: “At the beginning of the dynasty taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments.” Who knew that Ibn Khaldoun, identified by The Gipper as “Moslem Phil. 14th Century,” anticipated the Laffer Curve by 700 years? (Not me.)
This discussion of Reagan the thinker reminds me of a Carolina Journal Radio conversation with Age of Reagan author Steven Hayward: