Published January 2, 2020
He doesn’t come out and say it baldly, but the essential political problem with this type of libertarianism is that people do think public entities should address public problems. Old-style, “big L” libertarianism rejects this view, contending that any form of government action is inherently unjust and creates more problems than it solves. Few libertarians or classical liberals acknowledge the full import of this position, preferring to take a deus ex machina approach to public policy whereby their preferred solutions (school vouchers, for example) are just and can work while their non-preferred ones (like subsidized health insurance) aren’t and won’t. But the underlying metaphysical assumption — government always bad, private action always good — pervades the thinking of most libertarians and libertarian-influenced people. And this means they are congenitally unable to present plausible answers to challenges that people want addressed.
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Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.