A Stranger in Libertarian Land

David Leonhardt, a former Times reporter who now writesa decenteconomics column for the Times, reviewed Reason magazine senior editor Brian Doherty's history of the libertarian movement in America, "Radicals for Capitalism," for Sunday's book review, and made a hash of his attempt to criticize Doherty's work (hat tip Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online).

David Boaz, executive vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute, has a piece on the Cato website headlined "NYT: Clueless on Libertarianism" in which he "fisks" some of Leonhardt's more unfair passages, including the ones cited below.

Leonhardt wrote of "Radicals for Capitalism": "[Doherty] relates that Rand 'notoriously testified' before the big-brotherly House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1947, when the committee was investigating Hollywood, where Rand had worked as a screenwriter, but the episode receives only two paragraphs."

Boaz responded: "This is rich, coming in a review in a newspaper that still to this day proudly touts the Pulitzer Prize it received in 1932 for Walter Duranty's dispatches from Russia, reports that are now widely acknowledged to have minimized or covered up the horrors of Stalin's government-created famine in Ukraine."

Leonhardt: "He skates over other questionable matters, too: for instance, that Friedman advised the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile...."

Boaz: "Friedman had one meeting, of less than an hour, with Pinochet. He and other Chicago-school economists recommended sound economic policies for Chile, many of which were implemented, and ever since then Chile has had the strongest economy in Latin America. Is that a bad thing? Should Friedman have refused to give sound economic advice to the government of a poor country? Leonhardt doesn't mention that Friedman spent far more time advising the murderous Communist regime in China. Friedman has noted that 'I gave exactly the same lectures in China that I gave in Chile,' but nobody ever demonstrated against him for that."