A number of bloggers seem to agree that something is afoot at the Cato institute; the departure of Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson quite suddenly and on the heels of the now-infamous Koch brothers piece is all too much at once to dismiss outright. That being said, if it is a purge it is hardly over. A number of other similarly honest left-leaning libertarians work at Cato still (Julian Sanchez, Radley Balko, Jason Kuznicki just to name a few – and Glenn Greenwald has put together material for them as well) – and so far, if there is a purge, it hasn’t been terribly widespread. There’s a beginning to every story, of course.
All speculation aside, I wanted to echo this passage from John Quiggin which I think is true and hopefully prescient:
On the other hand, breaks of this kind often lead to interesting intellectual evolution.There is, I think, room for a version of liberalism/social democracy that is appreciative of the virtues of markets (and market-based policy instruments like emissions trading schemes) as social contrivances, and sceptical of top-down planning and regulation, without accepting normative claims about the income distribution generated by markets. Former libertarians like Jim Henley have had some interesting things to say along these lines, and it would be good to have some similar perspectives.