Monday, December 04, 2006

Libertarians = Evidence-Based Reform?

After reading the Reason critique on the counter-effectiveness of anti-crime zones we mentioned the other day, a loyal reader asks, "are the most articulate, passionate, and outspoken proponents of rational sentencing (and drug policy) now libertarians as opposed to traditional liberals?" The reader goes on: "From my limited perspective, it appears--in [my state], at least--that liberal politicians have been utterly compromised by the fear (legitimate, to be sure) of being tarred as 'soft on crime' by their more conservative, albeit non-libertarian, opponents. Hence, the resistance to evidence-based reform."

What do you think? Libertarians pride themselves in part in their commitment to rational behavior (although, to get them mad, I've never considered them very rational, in the sense that Mr. Spock is really pretty nutty . . . jeez, libertarians and Trekkies in one sentence. I better not go out at night for a while.). Does it take an ideological commitment to rationality to appreciate reality enough to act on it? Ideology does drive most of our criminal justice policy, from all sides, so this might be a valid point. If libertarianism isn't the only likely home for evidence-based policy, where else might we look? Do you even agree that libertarians have been in opposition to our non-evidence-based past?

Come on. You've got to have better answers than I do.

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