"Libertarian minarchy is an elegant idea in the abstract. But the moment you get specific, the foundation starts to crumble. Say we started from scratch and created a society in which government covered only the bare essentials of an army, police, and a courts system. I’m a farmer, and I want to sell my crops. In Libertopia, I can sell them in exchange for money. Where does the money come from? Easy, a private bank. Who prints the money? Well, for that we’d need a central bank—otherwise you’d have a thousand banks with a thousand different types of currency. (Some libertarians advocate this.) Okay, fine, we’ll create a central bank. But there’s another problem: Some people don’t have jobs. So we create charities to feed and clothe them. What if there isn’t enough charity money to help them? Well, we don’t want them to start stealing, so we’d better create a welfare system to cover their basic necessities. We’d need education, of course, so a few entrepreneurs would start private schools. Some would be excellent. Others would be mediocre. The poorest students would receive vouchers that allowed them to attend school. Where would those vouchers come from? Charity. Again, what if that doesn’t suffice? Perhaps the government would have to set up a school or two after all.
And so on. There are reasons our current society evolved out of a libertarian document like the Constitution. The Federal Reserve was created after the panic of 1907 to help the government reduce economic uncertainty. The Civil Rights Act was necessary because “states’ rights” had become a cover for unconstitutional practices. The welfare system evolved because private charity didn’t suffice. Challenges to the libertopian vision yield two responses: One is that an economy free from regulation will grow so quickly that it will lift everyone out of poverty. The second is that if somehow a poor person is still poor, charity will take care of them. If there is not enough charity, their families will take care of them. If they have no families to take care of them—well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Of course, we’ll never get there. And that’s the point. Libertarians can espouse minarchy all they want, since they’ll never have to prove it works."
The article purports to describe the spectrum of libertarianism, but spends plenty of time taking potshots at Rand and Ron Paul, Paul Ryan, the free state project, and proponents of ocean-going communities. The article glosses over Von Mises and Lew Rockwell, barely mentioning them. He either thinks libertarians are ridiculous, or wants his readers to think so. Never does he engage the libertarians in a dialogue or try to understand the economic underpinnings of their arguments. He quotes libertarians to conveniently fit them into the author's derisive themes.
The author is ignorant of, or purposefully hides historical and economic facts. The Federal Reserve was created with mandates it has long ignored. It was founded to protect the bank and corporatist elements represented at it's founding at Jekyll Island. They wanted stability after their losses of 1907.
The civil rights act, which I'm sure was written by public school educated individuals who were economically ignorant, who thought they trying to right a wrong, was not aimed at fighting unconstitutional practices protected by states rights, it was an act to win voter loyalty among segments of the population that benefit from the legislation, or at least perceive that they benefit.
The Civil Rights act certainly is a blow aimed at states rights and local control. One of the latest blows against the original intent of States' Rights in the Constitution as understood by the ratifying conventions since the end of the War for Southern Independence: We can't have uppity locales going their own way against the supreme government in Washington! Don't you know the "civil" war was fought over that and you lost? Guess we better remind you! Oh, you made local laws protecting your own hold on power and property based on your racial attitudes? Shame on you! Don't you know the supreme government in Washington now has a monopoly on passing laws to consolidate and grow their power!? Don't you know you were supposed to roll over and play dead when you came home after Appomattox, found yourself politically disenfranchised, and your former slaves given political power over you? Don't you know you're supposed to be as stupid and ignorant as the charicatures of you drawn in the northern cartoons? Shame on you for not realizing that, too!
The welfare system evolved because private charity didn't suffice. I love this one. People don't have jobs for innumerable reasons. They are ill-suited for a position, they are incompetent, they are laid off because of economic circumstance. Feel free to think of a million more reasons. Private charity didn't cover the need. Neither does the system under welfare. Under welfare, someone else is stripped of their earned wages through taxation (ultimately by force, if they wont pay their taxes), because the government knows better than you how to spend your money. Remember that, and you'll be half way to loving big brother. At least under a system of private charity without welfare, I could keep more money, and decide how much I want to give, and which charities match my priorities, and which utilise my money most appropriately and efficiently.
In describing what he calls libertopia, the author jumps around between creating a mythical ideal Libertarian minarchical world, and then throws out the idea of private money, then dismissing private money, goes back to central banking, and slowly recreates the state we live in now, as if history has a inevitable evolution from primitive to advanced. This is essentially a Marxist theory grounded in an early interpretation of Darwinism. This paragraph is ridiculous under scrutiny, not to mention even on face value.
So, big surprise from an elitist urban dinosaur rag like the new yorker, the piece ain't complimentary towards libertarians. It is a smear piece written to show just enough information to seem authoritative with regard to the subject matter, while not writing at all about the effect and influence of the giants of modern Libertarian theory: Ludwig Von Mises, Hayek, Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, et al.
The Austrian School theories of economics arise out of the study of individual human action, called praxeology. If you want to get an idea of the complexity of Murray Rothbard's take on praxeology, I dare you to read this. This was not a simplistic approach to studying human action. Mises and Rothbard were true geniuses, and the strength of their theories continues to be shown in the articles on mises.org. The theories of government arise out of the economic theories.
The predictive power of the Austrian school has been bourne out: Von Mises predicted the Great Depression, and his ideological offspring predicted the effects of Keynesian and socialist economics: the dot-com bubble, the housing bubble, the crash of 2008, and are likely to be dead on in the prediction of what TARP, QE2, etc., will do: kill chances of recovery by draining capital from the productive segment of the country, will destroy the dollar, and lead to hyperinflation in the United States.