Liberating Libations

So from time to time I am asked what libertarian (or classical liberal) policy would actually look like, usually from control freaks on both sides of the aisle. Obviously, you could go down the utopia path (gold standard! end the Fed!), but I tend to be more incrementalist and realistic: big government and the micromanaging of daily life is not likely to stop absent a profound cultural shift, the likes of which would require a sizeable external stimulus (like say a cataclysmic natural disaster). Thus, I usually point to smaller, more achievable reforms that nonetheless expand liberty, trim the role of government and offer tangible benefits to society. The major example is usually the deregulation of airlines, which initially dropped ticket fees substantially and prompted a boom in regional airlines in the 1980s, offering far greater numbers of Americans the ability to fly commercial.

Now comes more evidence that the Carter-era was more friendly to markets than even Paul Volcker thought. By removing one of the last vestiges of Prohibition and again permitting private citizens to make their own beer, Congress planted the seeds for the end of the great beer barons (Busch, Coors and Miller) and rise of American micro-brews. Where once Joe Sixpack plopped down in the Lazyboy to watch the MASH finale with a sixer of Coors Light like 106 million other Americans, now he can settle down with a liter of Rogue Dead Guy Ale (or any number of other tastier options) to watch the Lost finale with  13.5 million Americans (or not). While some might question whether this type of fragmentation of the artificially created common culture of the 20th century is good for the country as a whole, as an unabashed individualist, I would say greater choices and avenues for people to pursue their interests represents a sizable expansion of liberty and should be the goal of any policy prescription.

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