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January 14th, 2010 11:58 pm
Convincing Libertarians to Love Government
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Reason Magazine, the premier libertarian publication in the country, continues to turn out some of the most interesting material in the world of right-leaning opinion journals.

In a piece entitled “Five Reasons Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Hate Government”, William D. Eggers and John O’Leary, authors of the new book “If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government” make an extremely lucid and compelling case that small government advocates also have to be smart government advocates.  In addition to the eponymous reasons, the piece also features a list of five major government successes and five major failures. The article is so good that I hesitate to quote it, lest Freedom Line readers not check out the original, but here’s a taste:

“I don’t want to make government work better, I want it to go away” is the typical response [of libertarians to arguments about improving government]. Government, in their view, is the enemy.

This way of thinking is deeply misguided, a troubling blind spot that keeps libertarians on the fringe of many policy debates. If you reflect only scorn for government, it’s hard to get anyone who hasn’t already drunk the Kool-Aid to take your opinions on the topic seriously.

This is not to disparage the argument that government is too large, for which the case is strong. But holding government in sneering contempt is a misinformed corruption of that sentiment.

Our Founding Fathers, fondly quoted by limited-government advocates, didn’t view government as evil, but as a flawed institution with some important jobs to do. They studied how government worked and they served in office, not because they viewed government with disdain, but because they knew the importance of good government.

Read the whole thing. I command you.

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