We don’t live in the world that libertarians would have built, or anything remotely like it, and this can make the libertarian perspective immensely valuable in our political debates as a corrective, a critique, a shove against the status quo and an oar against the tide. But it’s also true that certain libertarian ideas (like any kind of political ideas) need to work together in order to work, which means in turn that an incrementalist libertarianism can lead to policy trainwrecks giving us lower taxes without the spending cuts required to pay for them, or private profits in boom times but socialized losses when the crunch comes, or a health care system that’s neither statist nor free market, but a failed combination of the two. There’s a danger, in other words, in a libertarianism that’s just powerful enough to win the easiest victories (and the ones, as Klein says, that entrenched interests have their own reasons for supporting), but not potent or serious or savvy enough to win the victories required to make its reforms actually work out for the best.
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