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Charles Murray
January/February 2012

Murray does not make the mistake of those economists who think that a free society must always maximise economic efficiency. Murray wants freedom of economic action but regards economic efficiency as a "pleasant bonus". Even if a market economy were less efficient than collectivism at producing wealth, it would still be morally superior and therefore preferable.

The Bell Curve, co-authored with Richard Herrnstein, came out in 1994 and was the book that got Murray into most trouble.It noted that the highest average IQ scores are achieved by Asian-Americans, followed by European-Americans, and then by African-Americans. In Losing Ground Murray had said that race was "not a morally admissible reason for treating one person differently from another. Period." But many critics of The Bell Curve didn't believe him and attacked the book as racist.

Defenders of Murray argued that he had met such violent hostility because he destroyed the faith of egalitarians that government action could manipulate human affairs for the better. For them, society was the cause of problems, not personal attributes. Murray accepted that there were "huge and often intractable individual differences that shape human society", but his view was a counsel of realism, not despair. The Bell Curve celebrated "the capacity of people live morally autonomous, satisfying lives".

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