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Home | Blog | The 1990s "Triumph" of Libertarianism?

The 1990s "Triumph" of Libertarianism?


I came across The Book of Predictions, dated 1980, at the library. It was a compilation of predictions for the 1980s, 1990s, and beyond from dozens of academics, scientists, and even psychics, and it included this contribution from Murray Rothbard:


  • Accelerating inflation, punctuated by recession; increasing flight from the dollar; even higher gold prices; permanently stagnation in stock market.
  • Higher taxes, crippled productivity and savings. Accelerated decay in the urban centers of the Northeast. A return to rent control with resulting shortage of apartments and decay in the quality of housing.
  • Accelerated increase in military spending, with ever greater and more frequent alarms of tyranny all over the globe, and increasingly ineffective attempts by the US to police and mold the entire world according to its heart’s desire.
  • Establishment of national health insurance, with consequent great increase in taxes, spending, and inflation, and a shortage of medical care and decline in its quality.
  • Slow deregulation of businesses, to the accompaniment of a great deal of squawking by the cartelized industries being regulated (in the case of FCC, CAB, ICC, etc.) and squawking by the environmentalists and liberals (OSHA, environmental protection, etc.).
  • Tighter controls on energy, in the form of price controls, import quotas, and taxes, bringing about higher prices and shortages.


By the early 1990s a “backlash” by the public, by intellectuals, and by the media will take place, against the statism that has governed America since the 1930s (more precisely, since 1900). There will be a triumph of libertarian ideologies, institutions, and policies on every front in American life. Specifically:

  • Inflation will be ended by the separation of government from money; by the abolition of the Federal Reserve System; and by the return to a gold standard fully backing the dollar. This will be followed by a return to the gold standard by all the world’s governments, bringing the chaotic nature of the international monetary system to an end. Taxes will be cut drastically across the board, on the federal, state, and local levels, and we will return to the idea that individuals, groups, and organizations should take care of their own affairs or voluntarily help each other. A huge number of government “services,” now performed badly if at all, will be returned to the private sector, with much greater attention to consumer needs. As a result, there will be a great burst in creative energies by the American people and in the American economy, with a large number of new products, industries, and technological marvels.
  • Industries will be deregulated rapidly and across the board. Energy will be freed at last and will become cheaper and more abundant, and government land, hoarded off the market, will be opened up to production.
  • We will finally realize that attempting to police the globe is harmful and counterproductive, and we will finally concentrate once again on our own defense, which will require enormously smaller military outlays. And we will finally abandon the remnants of the Prohibitionist mentality and stop trying to outlaw goods and services that other people find enjoyable. In short, the 1990s will bring freedom and therefore peace, prosperity, and creativity.

Skip Oliva is a writer and paralegal in Virginia (skip@skipoliva.com).

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