I detect a pattern in the challenges hurled at (genuine, or classical) liberals on nearly every issue. The opponent of liberalism (the statist) describes a problem, invariably with roots in a government infringement of freedom. In response, he prescribes more government interference with freedom, at which point the liberal interjects that the best and only just solution is the repeal of the culpable state power. The statist replies that this will not do because the liberal’s proposal won’t solve every related problem and may even reveal hitherto overlooked problems. Undo still more government action, the liberal replies. But this brings the same criticism. Here’s what’s going on. The exercise of state power for many years has created gross distortions in incentives, consumer preferences, and investment, leading to the problems under discussion. In other words, the politicians and bureaucrats have made a royal mess of things. Then liberals are faulted for not being able to clean it up tidily with the wave of a hand. That they can’t make everything right at once is then held against liberalism.
An example of this is medical insurance. Government has regulated every aspect of medicine and insurance for years. As a result, demand and hence prices have gone up past the point they would have gone in a free market, pricing some people out of the fettered market. When a liberal advocates removing the tangled web of regulations, taxes, and subsidies, and letting the free and competitive market operate, the statist objects that this idea won’t immediately enable everyone to have affordable health insurance and medical care. The same argument is made about Social Security. Translation: My side bollixed things up terribly, but since your side can’t resolve everything smoothly and painlessly by tomorrow, my side should continue calling the shots.