Robert Ringer perfumes the air with his scented claim that he is a philosopher/writer." Fair enough, except that his philosophy has the stink of ignorance and prejudice.

He calls the Food and Drug Administration" a virtual life threatening agency" because "it takes it upon itself to outlaw various 'drugs' and medicines that may improve the health of seriously ill people or, in some cases, even save lives." The Environmental protection Agency "is probably doing more to cripple the U.S. economy and endanger lives than any other agency." The Federal Trade Commission "is one of those anything-goes agencies that plays ball all over the lot, sticking its nose into a wide variety of aspects of virtually every industry."

This is standard gibberish, but what makes it more dismissible as it pours out of Ringer is that his intellectual laziness is grosser than what is generally noted in people who think like him. Ringer didn't take the time, for example, to interview anyone at the FDA to discover the beliefs and bents of the officials he believes are threatening our lives. Nor did he bother with anyone at the FTC or the EPA. For him, these officials are merely "nonelected bureaucrats" whose zeal "has evolved into a sort of social fascism."

Ringer, who was last heard from in "Winning Through Intimidation," appears to believe that he can intimidate his way to respectability merely because he has a respectable hope -- that "the American dream can be restored."

Good for him. But his description of the current ailments isn't much different from the one-note cries of Ronald Reagan and Henry Ford or the editorials of the Wall Street Journal: "If the devastating cycle of politically expedient promises/government-function spending/direct taxation and inflation is not halted and then drastically reduced, attempts to use free enterprise as the scapegoat will accelerate. And as taxation and regulation of business increase, motivation to produce will die, leading inevitably to a nationalization of industry; that is the step which will take America from the decaying stage to the death stage. It happened in Greece; it happened in Rome; it happened in every civilization that tried to provide the free lunch for its citizens and then blamed businessmen for its financial collapse,"

Ringer's effrontery is in his assumption that he can advance his sloppy analysis of the national drift merely because he is angry about it. This is the method of the blowhard. It is a put-down of the reader, with Ringer grandly suggesting that he is one of the first people to figure out that something is awry in government. But as congressmen back from the August recess were telling every reporter writing a "mood of America" story, the feeling is common.

If Ringer is different from the usual town meeting gripers, it is in the addled and crazed "solutions" that he, as a "philosopher/writer" feels compelled to offer. Politicians should be allowed to serve only one term, he says; one term per lifetime. After that, it's back "to the real world and earn a living just like everyone else." All regulatory agencies should be eliminated. Most government property should be sold. "Self-proclaimed protectors of the people" like environmentalists and "so-called consumer advocates" should be prosecuted for interfering with the freedom of others, especially the freedom of businessmen. And: Don't cooperate with the government.

Ringer deserves to be scorned for his demented solutions more by those who agree with his description of the problems than by those, like me, who don't. He sets back the liberatarian cause by being naive and clownish. He parrots free-enterprise slogans.

Many of Ringer's fears about big government are shared by some of the scholars that William Baroody has brought together at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. But the papers and books that the latter produce, however little faith should be placed in some of them, at least are intellectually honest and reflect the hard work of research. Ringer offers neither.

In being wrong about so many things, he does offer one statement that will be a public benefit should it prove to be correct: "The majority of people in this country certainly will never read this book." It's a pity that Ringer waits to the last pages of his screed to say this. It would have made a fine first sentence, with everything that followed being prime proof of why no one should read it.