With the passing of James Buchanan, it may be wise to reflect on an essay he wrote about "does it work?" pragmatists. In the essay, Buchanan strikes at the heart of the beltarian Washington DC-based think thanks. The think tanks have lost their soul (if they ever had any), and become micro-managers for the state.
In the essay, Buchanan gives too much credit to Ronald Reagan. Reagan fell under the spell of the "does it work?" pragmatists. While mouthing views that appeared to come from the soul, Reagan in the end simply provided cover for the expanding state. Nevertheless, Buchanan's bigger message of the importance of a grand classical liberal view is important and strikes an important blow at the "does it work?" pragmatists.
(ht Bill Bergman)