California Gov. Jerry Brown, who just completed his final set of bill signings and vetos before leaving office, probably never had a “secret libertarian” inside him.

In fact, Brown had a well-established political philosophy that generally favored a larger and more muscular state government, rather than the limited variety favored by libertarians.

But Brown had, on some occasions, expressed authentic-sounding skepticism toward government interventions and its many grandiose intentions. “Every year, on average about 1,000 new laws are enacted and most of the laws are solutions to the same problems,” the governor said in 2011. “It means that no matter how many solutions are provided every year we have the same number of problems.”

But Brown’s actions rarely lived up to his rhetoric, at least from a libertarian’s point of view. He knows that most new bills do little, but his veto rate averaged only 9-13 percent.

Of course, libertarian ideas are rarely even on the table in Sacramento (or Washington, D.C., for that matter). Judging even by Brown’s own fiscally frugal claims, he often disappointed. He’d pull out big charts during regular budget press conferences warning about the evils of excessive spending given that recessions always are around the corner. Then he’d sign a record-setting spending budget, albeit one more responsible than whatever atrocity Democratic legislators had envisioned. And boy did he like to raise taxes to fix budget holes.

But as Brown heads into the sunset and the state paddles further to the left, libertarians might find ourselves missing his time in office, writes Steven Greenhut.

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