Paul — I’m not sure you’ve been reading a full representative spectrum of classical liberals.
You write, “ Today’s so-called classical liberals promote a mythologized CliffsNotes-version of Locke, Smith, and David Ricardo instead of grappling with the primary texts of the theorists they claim have been betrayed by modern progressives. They want the economics of Smith without the moral theory of Smith. They want the anthropology of Locke without the political and logical implications of Locke’s anthropology. They want the moral relativism of Hobbes without the imposed law to prevent the “war of all against all.”
Not all of them. I’d like to invite you to spend some time on the Niskanen Center website.
Start with Sam Hammond, “The Free Market Welfare State.” Influenced by the Scandinavian model.
Try also Jerry Taylor’s “The Alternative to Ideology.” I think of Taylor as a classical liberal, but he doesn’t like that label because he has given up on ideological labels altogether.
You might be interested in my commentary, “Quality of Government, not Size, is the Key to Freedom and Prosperity.”
Or, if you want something written by a fellow philosopher, take a look at Matt Zwolinski’s “Hayek, Freedom, and Universal Basic Income.”
I think if you read these and a few more you’ll get a little better idea of what at contemporary classical liberalism has to offer.
Thanks again for your thoughtful essay!