What Should Classical Liberals Do?
By Arnold Kling
1. The welfare state is not going away. But it is imperative that we avoid Western European levels of taxation through the explosion of Medicare liabilities…
2. What recipes lead to both strong markets and decent governance?…
3. We face a variety of critical issues involving decentralization: how to deal with pandemics, natural disasters, or terrorists with nuclear weapons, to name but a few. None of these are areas for laissez-faire. Yet for all the squawking about the need for government, most of the real solutions “on the ground” will emphasize voluntary action and the private sector…
Overrated classical liberal ideas are privatization (sometimes useful, but it often replicates old problems in a new regulatory guise) and abolishing foreign aid.
Here are my thoughts:1. We need to emphasize the middle ground in between the welfare state and individualism. We can be for helping the poor and providing public goods, and still be against government.
2. I believe quite strongly in the importance of the institutions of civil society. Take away families, churches, civic groups, community associations, standards bodies, charitable organizations, and others, and you are left with either individualism or government. Conversely, the more you strengthen government, the more you tend to weaken the elements of civil society.
3. A classical liberal in this century should be relatively apolitical, in the sense of not rooting strongly for a political party. Instead, encourage the nongovernmental components of civil society, particularly private schools and private forms of saving and insurance.
4. Private forms of support for intellectual property, in the form of patronage, should be allowed to substitute for the legalistic approaches of patent and copyright. In fact, I hesitate to use the term “intellectual property” and would prefer the term “patronage goods.”
5. Above all, a classical liberal needs to identify, expose, and counter the marketing strategies and tactics that are used to expand government. Both political parties play up fears in order to sucker us into ceding money and power. Just as certain citizens’ groups are known for exposing the false advertising of corporations, we need to expose the false advertising of politicians.