John Stossel

But Gillespie says even people who don't understand the theory at least see what the invisible hand produces. "Where people do things voluntarily and in free markets, everything is getting better, (but] when you go to this old model of command and control, things are terrible." True. But while Gillespie, Welch and I -- and maybe you readers -- pay attention to that, I suspect that the promises of the central planners will fool most people most of the time.

Politicians fool us with offers of free goodies like cheaper health care and "cures" for social problems, like the War on Drugs. They fool us with their promises to "contain" China, Iran, al-Qaida, etc. and "build democracy" in the Middle East.

If libertarian-leaning politicians express doubt, they may be condemned by others in their own party.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., filibustered until President Obama responded to their questions about drone strikes. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called them "wacko birds."

After some politicians criticized NSA spying, Gov. Chris Christie said, "This strain of libertarianism is a very dangerous thought."

Mainstream conservative pundit Fred Barnes tells me Ron Paul is "deluded" because he wants to shrink the military. Barnes says we're not seeing a new libertarian era, just a libertarian "blip." He points out that even government programs Ronald Reagan railed against are still with us 30 years later -- and suggests that they probably aren't going away.

I'm not optimistic about most people recognizing liberty's benefits. Old politicians -- and old voters collecting Social Security -- may never change their minds. But libertarianism is growing fastest among the young, and groups like Students for Liberty give me hope. These young people certainly know more about liberty than I did at their age.

Maybe they will avoid prior generations' big-government mistakes. Maybe.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate