Archive | October 2013

Quote Of The Day

Today’s quote comes from Mark D. Friedman, of Natural Rights Libertarian, from his book Nozick’s Libertarian Project: An Elaboration and Defense:

Thus, the commingling of the political and economic realms permits the development of a vicious circle in which constituencies use the apparatus of the state to achieve illegitimate financial advantages and the authorities use their ability to provide such rewards as leverage to further erode our freedoms. Just as the human body can tolerate extremely low doses of arsenic and other toxins (do not try this at home!), societies with deeply ingrained traditions supportive of the rule of law can withstand a substantial level of state interference in their economic lives without collapsing into outright tyranny. However, even “minor” abridgements of liberty are pernicious in and of themselves, and if such cancers are allowed to metastasize, the “patient” will eventually succumb.

I should note here that Mark D. Friedman has become one of my favorite political thinkers lately, both through his blog and this book. His writing is clear, cogent, and his arguments are often surprisingly persuasive; I find myself initially disagreeing with his positions sometimes, but am often convinced by the time he rests his case. And, above all, his commitment to the value of the individual is never lost.

Quote Of The Day

I was first alerted to this by Matt Zwolinski of Bleeding Heart Libertarians. It comes from Adam Smith, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations:

The property which every man has in his own labour, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable. The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and dexterity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper without injury to his neighbour, is a plain violation of this most sacred property. It is a manifest encroachment upon the just liberty both of the workman, and of those who might be disposed to employ him. As it hinders the one from working at what he thinks proper, so it hinders the others from employing whom they think proper. To judge whether he is fit to be employed, may surely be trusted to the discretion of the employers whose interest it so much concerns. The affected anxiety of the law–giver lest they should employ an improper person, is evidently as impertinent as it is oppressive.



Government Shutdown

Andrew Cohen of Bleeding Heart Libertarians has an interesting piece up, and I largely share his views (though there is an analogy in there I find rather weak…). From the article:

People who were promised paychecks will not get them. Some will get them late. Some will get smaller paychecks (due to furlough time). Some of these people will face tremendous difficulty. I think it fair to say they will be harmed–having planned their lives given the promise of a regular paycheck, they have legitimate expectations that are being set back. Perhaps the government should not have hired those people in the first place (after all, they are “non-essential” personnel!). But the fact is they were hired and treating them this way is wrong and makes a mockery of contract.

This is a good point that many libertarians and conservatives are apt to miss. Many libertarians in particular are going to dispute the legitimacy of those obligations, but if government is a legitimate entity, then the obligations it enters into need to be taken seriously and the obligations honored. Now certainly, in the private sector, jobs are generally not seen as secure as government jobs. Perhaps thats a good thing, as it promotes increased productivity and competition, ultimately helping to serve the consumer. However, there is an implicit expectation of continued work when a full time employee gets hired by someone, whether the government, a corporation, or small business, and possibly could be considered part of their work contract. The government, currently, is not honoring that contract. However, given it’s abysmal record of honoring individuals and their rights, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.