The Libertarian Penumbra
By Bryan Caplan
Libertarians are famous for their internal disagreements, but they have far more beliefs in common than their core position requires. For starters, even non-consequentialist libertarians generally believe that libertarian policies have good consequences. Almost all libertarians think that free markets are better for economic growth, legalization of drugs would not radically increase drug use, and rent control causes shortages.
The more interesting fact, though, is that libertarians have many beliefs in common that have little to do with the consequences of liberty. They’re just part of our vibrant, iconoclastic intellectual subculture. A few examples:
- Most libertarians accept the validity of IQ testing. A perfectly good libertarian could reject IQ tests as “culturally biased,” but few do.
- Libertarians have favorable views of home schooling – even though conventional private schooling is equally consistent with libertarian principles.
- Libertarianism implies opposition to government population control, but it doesn’t imply another view common among libertarians: that population growth has major economic benefits because people are “the ultimate resource.” Notice: A statist who took this idea seriously could easily argue for government intervention to raise the birth rate.
What are your favorite examples of other beliefs in this “libertarian penumbra”? Which are you willing to defend? Which are most subject to abuse? Are there any that make you cringe? Inquiring minds want to know.