Leaping heroically into the Golden Age of the 1880’s fray, Bryan Caplan now has a post up on EconLog arguing that … well, I’ll just quote the final paragraph:
I know that my qualified defense of coverture isn’t going to make libertarians more popular with modern audiences. Still, truth comes first. Women of the Gilded Age were very poor compared to women today. But from a libertarian standpoint, they were freer than they are on Sex and the City.
I cannot honestly say that the author provides any serious defense of this proposition.
UPDATE: pending a better explanation, heur wins the thread:
Caplan has a friend, also a libertarian, who said something stupid to his wife concerning the 1880s, and is now in a great deal of trouble. Caplan owes his friend a very large favor, and so now makes good on his debt by writing this post, intended to make his friend appear less stupid (and therefore less offensive to his wife). Since Caplan’s marriage is stronger, contractually, he is better able to bear the brunt of his wife’s annoyance. Thus what appeared at first to be ideological obstinance turns out to be an interesting application of the concept of comparative advantage, and an illustration of the bonds that can be formed between persons even in the absence of coercive state power.