The New York Times wonders if the libertarian moment has arrived. Unfortunately, there’ve been false starts before.
Ronald Reagan’s election seemed the harbinger of a new freedom wave. His rhetoric was great, but actual accomplishments lagged far behind.
So, too, with the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. Alas, the GOP in office behaved little different than many Democrats.
Since then there’s been even less to celebrate—in America, at least. George W. Bush was an avid proponent of “compassionate,” big-government conservatism. Federa outlays rose faster than under his Democratic predecessor. Barack Obama has continued Uncle Sam’s bailout tradition, promoting corporate welfare, pushing through a massive “stimulus” bill for the bank accounts of federal contractors, and seizing control of what remained private in the health care system.
Over the last half century, members of both parties took a welfare state that was of modest size despite the excesses of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and put it on a fiscally unsustainable basis as part of the misnamed “Great Society.” Economist Lawrence Kotlikoff figures government’s total unfunded liability at around $220 trillion.
The national government has done no better with international issues. Trillions went for misnamed “foreign aid” that subsidized collectivism and autocracy. Trade liberalization faces determined resistance and often is blocked by countries that would gain great benefits from global commerce.
Even worse has been foreign policy. The joy people felt from the collapse of the Berlin Wall a quarter century ago has been forgotten.
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