George Will, in a column analyzing the election as a repudiation of liberalism, includes an interesting quotation:
George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux agreed that interest-group liberalism has indeed been leavened by idea-driven liberalism. Which is the problem.
“These ideas,” Boudreaux says, “are almost exclusively about how other people should live their lives. These are ideas about how one group of people (the politically successful) should engineer everyone else’s contracts, social relations, diets, habits, and even moral sentiments.” Liberalism’s ideas are “about replacing an unimaginably large multitude of diverse and competing ideas . . . with a relatively paltry set of ‘Big Ideas’ that are politically selected, centrally imposed, and enforced by government, not by the natural give, take and compromise of the everyday interactions of millions of people.”
And yet, aren’t conservatives accused of much the same thing, wanting to control people’s social relations and moral sentiments, replacing an unimaginably large multitude of diverse and competing ideas?
Is the only difference that liberals want to control everyone, except when it comes to sex, while conservatives want everyone to be free, except when it comes to sex? That, I’m sure, is an overstatement. But how would you state it?
Libertarians don’t want to control anything, and yet, arguably, preventing people from controlling you will take substantial state power.
Could we agree that there are certain social goods that the government does need to promote? Like what? Whereas other areas of human life need to be unregulated? Like what?