Powerblog: How to Love Liberty More Than a Libertarian Economist Joe Carter
... As the ancient Greeks used to say, when the gods want to punish someone, they give him what he prays for. That would certainly be true for anyone praying for a libertarian state. If such a request were granted the libertarian state would quickly be replaced by one in which freedoms were broadly curtailed. A prime example of what I mean can be found in the way libertarianism would have dealt with the recent housing crisis. Consistent libertarians would say that we must not separate choice from consequences, and so the proper response would be to let the banks fail and the mortgage holders lose their homes.
Let’s concede for the sake of argument that the libertarians are right and that this would have been the proper and preferable response. What would have been the effect of such a policy? The answer depends on whether you assume that America is secretly composed of 300 million libertarians. If it is, then we can expect that everyone would shrug and stoically accept their fate, even if it meant the annihilation of our economy. If it were not, then the result would be that few people would have the stomach to accept such consequences. The citizens would empower both progressives and the government to help them avoid the consequences of their actions. That is essentially what happened with the non-libertarian safety net that we already had in place. If Americans had endured the forced austerity required by pure libertarianism it would have lead to an even more empowered and intrusive government.
Libertarianism could be, in theory, the greatest political theory of all time. But in reality it suffers the fatal flaw shared by all utopian schemes: a failure to account for how humans actually behave.
This is why I believe conservatism (the non-ideological variety) is superior in reality to libertarianism. At its best, conservatism takes a realistic accounting of human nature before making policy proscriptions. It starts with what is possible in the earthly realm rather than what is merely preferable in the realm of pure abstraction. Conservatism recognizes that there are unchangeable and contingent variables that must be factored into every political equation. ...