Tyler Cowen has a pretty interesting essay.
The more wealth we have, the more government we can afford. Furthermore, the better government operates, the more government people will demand. That is the fundamental paradox of libertarianism. Many initial victories bring later defeats. I am not so worried about this paradox of libertarianism. Overall libertarians should embrace these developments. We should embrace a world with growing wealth, growing positive liberty, and yes, growing government. We don’t have to favor the growth in government per se, but we do need to recognize that sometimes it is a package deal. … We need to recognize that some of the current threats to liberty are outside of the old categories. I worry about pandemics and natural disasters, as well as global warming and climate change more generally (it doesn’t have to be carbon-induced to be a problem). These developments are big threats to the liberty of many people in the world, although not necessarily Americans. The best answers to these problems don’t always lie on the old liberty/power spectrum in a simple way. … Intellectual property … Another major problem – the major problem in my view – is nuclear proliferation … In short, I would like to restructure classical liberalism, or libertarianism — whatever we call it — around these new and very serious threats to liberty. Let’s not fight the last battle or the last war. Let’s not obsess over all the interventions represented by the New Deal, even though I would agree that most of those policies were bad ideas.
The essay seems to me to glom together two, quite different theses – that the demand for government increases along with wealth, and that new, complex global problems require more government intervention than most libertarians would care for. Even so, his call for a pragmatic libertarianism seems on target to me (I’d vastly prefer a political debate in which smart libertarians acknowledged that global warming was a major problem in need of a political solution, and contributed insights from their own perspective, to a debate in which many libertarians either minimize the problem or suggest that no real political solution is possible).