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Conservatism and Libertarianism

Whenever I grade my economics courses, I become fearful of how fragile capitalism is. Even my students, well above average in intelligence, and trained by my excellent self, don’t really understand why a free market is good and call for government interventions uncritically and at the slightest excuse. Yet Americans favor the free market, and Western nations by and large are free, if a little corrupt in legal ways. Why?

One possibility is the lobbying by business counteracts the voters’ natural desire to wreck the economy. Here’s another possibility though: It is conservatism that is now rescuing the economy. Americans, at least, have a strong suspicion of government and of innovative policies. That protects us when understanding of economics does not.

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