The Washington Times - October 21, 2008, 08:15AM

Our three-part series on big government closes out today with a look at the question: Does America still care about the size and role of government?

Over at The Atlantic online, Ross Douthat is addressing a more specific form of the same question: Is Libertarianism discredited?

In answering criticism from Slate’s Jacob Weisberg, Ross makes the point that free-market capitalism has been hurt by the recent financial crisis, but that its track record is still far better than that of Marxism or communism.

“The thing with Marxism was that every single time someone actually tried to implement its tenets, the result was mass murder and large-scale impoverishment: There weren’t any examples, save in fantasyland, of a Marxist regime that wasn’t an economically-incompetent tyranny,” Ross writes.

“Now obviously the crash isn’t good news for defenders of deregulated markets. But we’re a long way from Pol Pot territory here, I think.”

We had Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr at the Washington Times on Monday for an interview with reporters and editors. Stephen Dinan and Ralph Hallow’s story on that can be read here (check out the McCain campaign’s nasty diss on Barr — ouch!).

Barr addressed the question of limited government’s future, and said that America’s younger voters may in fact care more about the issue than the Baby Boomers because of entitlements.

But, he said, any path back to an era of limited government will require “a long period of education.”

“It’s not going to happen quickly.”

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also weigh in — read part three here.

Part one (read it here) showed that under President Bush the size of government has increased more than any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and part two (read it here) showed how the contracting system used for much of the spending on defense and homeland security has been plagued by dysfunctional oversight.