Yesterday, Paul Krugman made the most astonishing assertion I have ever seen him make:
“Government is not the solution to our problem,” declared Ronald Reagan. “Government is the problem.” So why worry about governing well?
Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.
Got that? If you believe government is a problem, you’re nothing less than a neo-Confederate.
The idea that Hayek or Mill or any other philosopher of the Whig tradition might have had anything to do with it doesn’t seem to occur to Krugman. In particular, Mill’s idea of the harm inflicted by the tyranny of the majority and the idea that government must be constrained becuase of this seems to have failed to penetrate the Krugman Kranium. In advancing this argument, Krugman proves that he is no liberal, because he doesn’t understand the history of classical liberalism, nor how it came to be integral to what we today call conservatism. More thoughts along these lines here.