In his most recent piece for the New York Times, renowned economists puts a stake through the heart of one of the most foolish of all political ideologies, libertarianism.
“Is libertarian economics at all realistic?” asks Krugman, in response to yet another essay claiming that libertarianism is about to overtake American politics.
Krugman uses the recent water contamination in Toledo, Ohio as a perfect example of why libertarianism fails, relying on the fantasy of an overreaching big government.
So to answer his own question about libertarianism being realistic, “The answer is no,” Krugman says. “And the reason can be summed up in one word: phosphorus.”
The events in Toledo are the result of unregulated farms allowing dangerous phosphorus runoff into Lake Eerie and residents being discouraged from drinking their own tap water.
“The point is that before you rage against unwarranted government interference in your life, you might want to ask why the government is interfering,” wrote the economist. “Pollution controls are the simplest example” of exactly why we have the government regulations libertarians are so eager to do away with.
Krugman closes his piece with the deathblow to the “foolish fantasy”:
As I said at the beginning, you shouldn’t believe talk of a rising libertarian tide; despite America’s growing social liberalism, real power on the right still rests with the traditional alliance between plutocrats and preachers. But libertarian visions of an unregulated economy do play a significant role in political debate, so it’s important to understand that these visions are mirages. Of course some government interventions are unnecessary and unwise. But the idea that we have a vastly bigger and more intrusive government than we need is a foolish fantasy.