And yet, judging by their output in recent years, libertarians are in a fine mood–and not because they are in denial. However distant the country may be from their laissez-faire ideal, free-market principles now drive the American economy to a degree unimaginable a generation ago. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who as a young economist sat at the knee of the libertarian guru Ayn Rand, presided in the 1990s over one of the most prosperous stretches in American history, with the support, no less, of a Democratic president. When the avowedly libertarian economist Milton Friedman died last November, he was lauded just about everywhere, and even given respectful treatment in places like the New York Review of Books.

Well, just look around — do you see anything that’s likely to revive faith in Big Government? I think, though, that Hymowitz misses something about libertarians’ cultural ideals: We can be conservative in our own lifestyles and childrearing (and many of the people she names are) without believing that it’s the government’s business to make everyone live that way. We can even think that traditional childrearing and marriage are generally a good thing without insisting on social mores that punish those who live differently. I don’t think that’s a “cultural contradiction” at all. It’s just a belief in letting people make up their own minds.