A couple weeks ago I went to Lithuania to attend a camp started seven years ago by Simon Black and Matt Smith called the BlackSmith Liberty and Entrepreneurship Camp, or Sovereign Academy… it seemed to have a few names. Continue reading
In the past I have fallen into the habit of talking about the problems society faces, mostly from coercive government. These are real problems of which most of us are aware, and there is copious discussion on these topics in older posts on this blog. But at some point, we need to stop identifying the problems with society, and start formulating solutions. Continue reading
Secession is a Natural Right
Morality is what is naturally right or wrong. Saying someone has a “right” is a statement about an individual’s condition in nature, absent other parties. That is why rights are expressed in the negative: because a right is a declaration of the natural state of a human, and the assertion that another human that disrupts this natural state is in the wrong. Continue reading
My second major work of fiction has been published! A fast paced dystopian thriller, Flight Grounded follows a Vermont man named Jake Evans as he flees from agents of the state in an attempt to escape to Canada after being accused of carrying out a terrorist attack. Continue reading
I often argue that people would be better off without a coercive state. During these arguments, I am put in the position of explaining how the absence of government would lead to utopia. I am asked how this new system would be perfect, while the other party defends an imperfect system. Continue reading
There are two basic reproductive strategies nature has taken, with profound implications for evolution and consciousness.
The first, the strategy used by mammals, is to produce a small number of young offspring and then carefully nurse each one to maturity. This is a risky strategy, because only a few progeny are produced in each generation, so it assumes that nurturing will even out the odds. This means that every life is cherished and carefully nurtured for a length of time.
But there is another, much older strategy that is used by much of the plant and animal kingdom, including insects, reptiles, and most other lifeforms on Earth. This involves creating a large number of eggs or seeds and then letting them fend for themselves. Without nurturing, most of the offspring never survive, so only a few hardy individuals will make it into the next generation. This means that the energy invested in each generation by the parents is nil, and reproduction relies on the law of averages to propagate the species. –The Future of the Mind, Michio Kaku
It is important to learn from, and work with nature if we want to have success as a species. The natural way of humans is to cherish each individual. Society does not function properly when elites try to organize us like ants in a colony.
This is clearly seen in economics. Keynesians think that the economy can be designed and tweaked by “experts” like a machine. But this ends up creating bubbles—the appearance of demand where there is none, which leads to misplaced investment. But promoters of a free market understand that there is a natural order, and when human interactions are left alone, the proper fruit will grow—mutually beneficial transactions based on supply and demand. The economy is a crop to be planted and given the proper environment to grow.
In this same sense, society, and each individual making up that society, will be better off when the natural approach is taken. The natural approach is what gave rise to our species’ dominance in the first place. Yes, it was a risky strategy of nature to spend so much time on each individual. But it resulted in arguably the best, most intelligent creatures on Earth. Not just humans, but dolphins, apes, dogs and every other mammal. This is the age of mammals, the animals which cherish the individual. Things will go south very quickly if mammals are treated like insects or reptiles; like expendable cogs in a machine.
Learn from, and mimic what nature has created. Humans succeeded by valuing every individual, not hampering their potential in the name of the “greater good”. The human race is threatened by those who see some individuals as expendable, in order to benefit a minority of other individuals, in the name of the survival of the species. But nature tells us that without the survival of the individual, there will be no species.
An ant colony can benefit from sacrificing some ants for the greater good of the colony. But humans are not ants. The species only exists because individuals were nurtured, therefore the freer every one of us is to choose our own path in life, the better we will do as a species.
With such colossal and aggressive government, it can be quite difficult to analyze all of the effects it has on private life, the economy, crime, and essentially every aspect of civilian life. If you go by the government’s own record, you might think everything good that happens is due to government, and everything bad that happens is because of one government detractor or another: drug cartels, terrorists, survivalists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims—there have been many scapegoats throughout history. But when you understand market forces, you can begin to tease apart what influence the government has had on our society.
Obviously, the government creates the narrative, so they will naturally place themselves as the constant savior, while any of their critics will be the perpetual villain. It is obvious to most people that this is not always the case, but indeed I firmly believe it to never be the case. Right off the bat is the fact that government lies. Everyone knows it, starting right from the fact that they claim everything they do is beneficial when we all (yes, EVERYONE) knows that is not true.
Republicans know that the Democratic politicians lie, and Republicans know that the Democratic appointees lie. The Fascists blamed the Socialists, the Monarchs blamed the Communists, and pretty much everyone blamed the Jews. If you are anti-war you know the government lies about terrorists. If you are anti-welfare you know the government lies about poverty. If you laissez-faire you know the government lies about the economy, and if you are Keynesian you know the government lies about capitalism.
The next big step is realizing practically everything the government says is a lie, and practically everything it does serves an ulterior motive. It is not the government that keeps us safe, it is not the government that keeps us fed, it is not the government that educates us, it is not the government who houses us, and it is most certainly not the government that organizes society.
In fact, most disorder in society is a result of the government’s attempt to implement their vision of an organized society. And there is nothing magic about government versus industry; you need only to consider what each actually is at its core. The government cannot exist without coercion, or we would not call it a government. Monopolizing the initiation of force is a defining characteristic of government; they allow themselves, but supposedly no one else (besides their cronies), to aggress upon people, not just in retaliation, but to fund everything they do. They use this aggression anywhere within their arbitrarily defined borders without typical consequences that anyone else could expect from attacking someone, or being aggressive.
Industry on the other hand, when not working in tandem with government, is constrained by market responses, as in, people will not put up with being aggressed upon. The government can come to my house with guns and force me to pay them protection money. A business must attract me to their product or service in order to get my money. I must obey the government or face jail or death. With business, I must agree to the price and they the product (a mutually beneficial transaction), and if no agreement is found, we will simply go our separate ways.
Some people think that without government, businesses would be able to come to your house and demand money. But there is nothing to back this up. In fact, economic principles refute this. Just like the threat of mutual destruction keeps wolves from invading other wolves’ territory, so would businesses seek to avoid costly confrontation, in order to continue to make a profit.
This makes even more sense when you consider that various businesses would offer services (with profit as their incentive) to protect individuals from any number of criminals, including cartels. A cartel is essentially a business that begins to use government tactics to fund their enterprise (government tactics being forcing “customers” to pay them money, like taxes or mafia style “protection”). Then any aggressive company would be picking on someone their own size (another company), and thus could expect at least the ruin of their business, and probably death or confinement, if they initiate force against innocent people.
The only reason this would happen is if the market (AKA people who earn and spend money) places no value on peace. I like peace, do you like peace? Yeah even people who don’t like peace generally have to pretend they do. Companies can currently make money off war because the government steals our money and gives it to the military industrial complex. If the companies had to earn the money, war would be avoided at all costs to maintain profits, attract customers, attract employees, and for management to stay alive and not in a cage.
I Put Up With the Murder of Hundreds of Millions of Innocent Human Beings, and All I got Was This Lousy Road
So you see, the mechanisms exist in a free market to offer all the benefits of organized society, without the detriments of accepting government force as okay. Plus, there would be a clear line: initiation of force is never okay, even if an organization calls themselves a government.
This would prevent prosecution for victimless crimes, since without a victim, who would pay for the prosecution? It would also stop genocides carried out by governments, as has happened over the past century in Cambodia, Indonesia, Turkey, Germany, Russia, China, Darfur, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Rwanda, Iraq, and North Korea to name a few. Currently, governments can do any number of terrible things under the guise of helping people, the greater good, or simply having enough guns and soldiers to not require an excuse for their aggression.
Now one might think with such an insanely lopsided record of governments carrying out evil against all sorts of innocent and peaceful people, that the burden of proof would rest on government as to the benefits it creates. It seems they would have to do a lot of good in order to make up for the murder, torture, and imprisonment of at very least half a billion innocent people, in only 100 years. But the government gets to write the narrative. Building roads is necessary, so just ignore the vast atrocities. And also don’t give it much thought, because you will realize you didn’t need government to build the roads after all. And you don’t need the government to keep you safe either—they are a bigger threat to your safety than the people they “protect” you from.
If it can all be summed up in one sentence, here it is. People must currently seek permission from government to exist, where as in a free market with no government, businesses would require permission from people to exist.
And that is why a free market would create a better society than the government has. Stay tuned, because the government could not create such a false narrative, without the tools to mold the population to their liking: public education.
I can’t help myself. Every time I see an article headline smugly bragging to have debunked libertarianism, I have to click! I have to see, is this an argument I haven’t heard before, or is it the tired old, “look how evil capitalism is, here are my references from crony capitalism”.
So far, that is all I have found. Writers list everything wrong with “free markets”, and then give examples from a government regulated market about how bad business is when left to their own devices. It is exhausting. I can’t tell who is honestly too stupid to see the difference, and who is willfully deceiving people.
A free market is when all economic transactions in a given area happen without coercion. Only mutually beneficial transactions and trade take place.
The American market is one plagued by coercion, from taxes, regulations, and laws. It also sees its fair share of intervention in the form of bailouts, subsidies, and grants.
The former is met with scoffs. They say, “Well when has there ever been a free market? They don’t exist”. Uhh yeah, that’s why we are trying to create one. Markets have existed however that were close to free, and these consistently perform better in moving all of the society forward.
This is not conjecture, it is economics. Somehow anti-libertarians become science haters when it comes to economics. Supply and demand is considered not proven; economic incentives and disincentives to them sound like talking points, but reality shows they are closer to mathematical principles.
Here’s how a free market helps people. It allows some people to amass great wealth through providing the masses with something in demand. Part of this wealth will be used to demand another product or service in turn. This demand provides others with economic opportunity to supply the demand. This supplier then amasses wealth, and can likewise use the excess to demand another product or service, etc. until the entire society is riding around on hover-boards.
Here’s how a controlled market ends us up exactly where anti-libertarians think the free market lands us. The middle class is taxed the most, because the rich can pay off the right people to get tax loopholes, and the poor are exempt below a certain income, or net a positive cash flow (they pay taxes, but receive more in housing, welfare etc.).
These tax dollars are then redistributed by the government to corporations in the form of bailouts, subsidies, and grants. Despite market disapproval, certain companies persist because they are funded by our stolen tax dollars. Sometimes the government even gives favorable court rulings to a company which had bought them off, such as with Monsanto. Sometimes the government regulates a favored company’s competitor to non-existence, such as using the FCC to crush cable and media alternatives.
Yet anti-libertarians will say, “look, we have only a small handful of people controlling media! Free markets don’t work”. And that is when I bash my head against the wall because it cannot get any clearer that government intervention into the market caused all these things.
Pollution, sketchy bank dealings, fraud, ponzi schemes, cover-ups: they are all either facilitated by the government, or kept from the public view by government. That means the market cannot properly respond in order to regulate these businesses. People mistake this inability for self regulation in a government controlled market as the inability for a free market to regulate itself.
No not magically. That’s what they all say, we think the market will magically regulate itself. They forget the market is us, consumers, individuals who will choose where to shop and what to buy. If people think the FDA, USDA, FCC, EPA and so on and so forth will regulate business properly in their place, they get what we have now, crony capitalism.
And yes, crony capitalism does indeed lead to inequality. Use all the examples from the regulated American market you want, they all prove this. Most of the “free market doesn’t work” myth relies on people mistaking the American economy for a free market. But it should be quite blatantly obvious that it is not a free market, and has not been for over a century at least.
Could This Article Be Different?
So when I saw the article, How Piketty’s Bombshell Book Blows Up Libertarian Fantasies, part of me hoped that it in fact did. When you are after truth, it is not so scary to find out you are wrong.
It starts with some Milton Friedman quotes about how focusing on freedom will lead to liberty and equality, while focusing on equality will lead to neither. But alas, the bombshell?
Well, that turns out to be spectacularly, jaw-droppingly, head-scratchingly wrong. The U.S. is now a stunningly unequal society, with wealth piling up at the top so fast that an entire movement, Occupy Wall Street, sprung up to decry it with the catchphrase “We are the 99%.”
How do I reach these kiiiiiids! What a bombshell! You mean a regulated market has not performed the way libertarians say an unregulated market would perform!?! I say sir, quite the academic conclusion!
And you know, zoologists once thought that horses ate hay, but it turns out pandas eat bamboo. How can people keep claiming that horses eat hay when every single panda we observe eats bamboo!!!
Well they’re both mammals, and the claim that the mammal horses eat hay has long been a rallying call for zootarians. We have blown up these zootarian fantasies by proving that the mammal panda only eats bamboo.
See what I did there? I pretended the operative word was mammal, when the entire distinction was in the type of mammal. Anti-libertarians pretend the operative word is market, but “free” is the important part, versus “regulated”. You cannot disprove the merits of a free market by exclusively using examples from a regulated market.
Libertarians do not use America as an example of a free market. So pointing out wealth inequality in America says nothing about a free market. This market is not even close to free! Why don’t they just use GM or Solyndra as examples of the free market?
“See people didn’t want GM cars, but GM still exists, evil free market!” Oh wait, the government bailed out the big bad corporation with money stolen from the middle class. The taxpayers provided the now bankrupt Solyndra’s billionaire founder a taxpayer backed loan that will never be recovered. So the “rich get richer” precisely because the market is not free.
Over time billionaire George Kaiser’s wealth would fade in a free market unless he, say, built solar panels that worked and helped people. He actually built terrible solar panels that would not sell. This still made him richer, because the government redistributed tax dollars to him. In the free market, no one would have bought his shoddy product, and his investment would be lost.
People got mad that GM CEO pay was still high after the taxpayer bailout. The free market did not pay the CEO millions of dollars; in fact the free market dictated that the CEO should get exactly zero dollars. But the government stepped in and said our regulated market will redistribute wealth to the incompetent CEO of GM, who provides no one with an in demand product.
Oil subsidies, sugar subsidies, gas taxes, sugar taxes, media regulation, pharmaceutical regulation, the revolving door of lobbyists, bailouts, loans, redistribution, government contracts, high taxes, low taxes, tax incentives, tax loopholes, Justice Department of former Wall Street defenders, judges on Board’s of Directors, zoning laws, IRS targeting, media intimidation: these are just some of the not free things about the American market.
Rinse and Repeat
I would dissect the rest of the article, but it literally just repeats the same fallacy with different examples from America.
This phenomenon really got going after 1980, when wealth started flowing in vast quantities from the bottom 90 percent of the population to the top 10 percent… John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged (1957), captured the imaginations of young students like Paul Ryan, who worshipped Galt as a superman who could rise to the top through his vision, merit and heroic efforts.
No, Reagan did not make the market free. Anti-libertarians love to point this out when they talk about how much the “right’s savior” spent and increased the debt… but Reagan magically transforms back into a free market de-regulator when it fits their narrative.
Not since before the Federal Reserve was created in 1913 could anyone even pretend anything resembling a free market existed in America. Perhaps some had amassed great wealth before then, but they could not keep that wealth in a free market, due to competition. They had to appeal to the government (like George Kaiser and the CEO of GM) to rig the system in the rich’s favor, to eliminate competitors–something that will only happen in a free market by outcompeting them (better prices, better quality, innovation, etc.).
Oh and maybe the author never read Atlas Shrugged. John Galt had not risen to the top of society. He was working as a janitor, despite having the intellect capable of building and maintaining a device that harnessed practically free energy. Yes, Ayn Rand wrote fiction. But her entire point was that the government in Atlas Shrugged prevented a free market, such that even skilled people like Galt could not (or did not see the point to) rise to a reward level appropriate for their skill, based on the benefits to society their skills could confer.
Which brings us back to Friedman’s view that people naturally get what they deserve, that reward is based on talent.
No, no. This is our panda versus horse problem. Friedman did not say that in any market people naturally get what they deserve, just like zoologists do not say that any mammal can survive on hay alone. Friedman says that in a free market people naturally are rewarded based on their talent.
If the market is free, then people will be rewarded based on skill. If the mammal is a horse, then it will survive on hay.
If the market is regulated, then people will not necessarily be rewarded based on skill. If the mammal is a panda, then it cannot necessarily survive on hay.
If you want to disagree fine, but don’t make your argument against a free market using negative examples from a regulated market. A zoologist wouldn’t argue that horses can’t survive on hay based on examples of pandas not surviving on hay, even though they are both mammals.
There’s no magic involved in a free market, just non coercive mutually beneficial transactions. When that is all that is acceptable, you will not end up with how things have ended up in America, and other regulated markets.
Now I started this off by saying that if you actually care about truth, it really isn’t that bad to be wrong from time to time. Yet every attempt to exit society and form a free market–without even forcing others to participate–is met with more force, regulation, taxation, and intervention.
Why not let us give it a try? After all, if all the dire predictions come true, anti-libertarians would finally have an example of a FREE market with which to make their points, instead of relying on fallacies.
Part of the point of freedom is that there are no rules, as long as no one has been victimized. When someone becomes a victim can be a point of contention, but I trust the parties involved to solve these issues better than an entity whose only tool is force. In anarchy, things would not be centralized unless the market demanded it, and as such it is impossible to imagine the many countless ways that anarchy could manifest itself. But it is natural to desire an example of how things would play out without the state. So let me give you my vision, which is certainly not the only vision, but one that I would create with the likeminded, to realize in a society without government.
But part of the point is that there is not one way for things to happen. You can choose from hundreds of restaurants with dozens of types of food, and various methods of service, wait times, and quality of food, all within a half hour of where you live right now. We don’t have to understand how each restaurant came to be, who their main cliental is, and where their supplies come from to understand that the market has shown a demand for these restaurants. And magically the market has supplied that demand.
My Anarchist “Utopia”
Personally, my idea of an anarchist utopia would include enough people to have safety in numbers. It would start as a group of very like minded friends and family, so that there would be agreement on how to run things, and there would not be a struggle for power from the beginning. Some people would want to establish a governing structure immediately, but that would not be necessary for the market solution types I associate with.
We would want either one large tract of land to all buy into, or many individual pieces that are adjacent: probably the latter to avoid any issues. Then each with our own little area, we would begin to specialize and trade amongst ourselves. In the initial group of, say ten families, there would be vegetable gardeners, fruit growers, craftsmen, builders, soap makers, hunters, brewers, foragers, and medical personnel. Every able bodied man and woman would be happy to own a gun, meaning most likely at very least two guns per household in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors. With a group that size of like minded people, the community could come together to solve any disputes—accusations of force being initiated.
Keep in mind that there is plenty of uninhabited land owned by the USA, so any inequality in land ownership could be righted by simply allowing people to settle and maintain uninhabited land in order to claim ownership.
This would be a good start, but obviously we would need more protection to be secure, and cannot sustain an advanced economy with only dozens of people.
If our own land was vast enough, we could sell off little lots on the outskirts to similarly likeminded people, possibly writing into the deeds any rules which we find necessary for people living in close proximity to us. Remember, they do not have to buy the land, and therefore do not have to agree to the rules, if we felt any were necessary.
But even if we did not have enough land, we could alert people to the type of community we imagine. The incentive to settle nearby would be a community of people already working and creating many necessities.
Once our land was exhausted, we would have enough people to have developed some type of economy in the area. People who are attracted to the type of structure that springs up would be drawn to the area to start their own businesses, or get a job with an existing business, and join the community. They could settle on the outskirts of the land owned by the original group, and do their thing.
In the end I imagine a group of a few thousand people living within a town sized area. We could still trade with outside groups. Perhaps 30 miles away there is a group of mostly scientists. They make advanced medicine and technology, and trade this for necessities like food. And since they create so much value, they also trade some of their medicine for security from a different group of people whose main expertise lay in protection. They have found another group which finds and processes the raw materials they need, and this group likewise trades for protection from yet another group.
Our area is safe because of our militia style protection. The scientists’ area is safe because they can buy protection. The routes in and out are also safe, in order to allow safe trading among the groups the scientists wish to trade with. (And the scientists trade to another group who maintains roads so that trade with the scientists will be easy). The security group is happy because they trade their services for medicine, which they can also trade for other necessities. The security group cannot become too powerful, because they do not have a monopoly over protection: there is a militia in our neck of the woods, and another security company protecting the manufacturers who trade with the scientists.
Since trading is not always efficient, a guy with an empty barn near the road comes up with a great idea for a business. He begins by offering a farmers’ market style clearing house for goods and products. People can come to this location to trade, and a percentage goes to the man who started the business, provides the location, and organizes the trading.
With his portion, he sets up his own trading station. Due to the amount of activity, he can trade for many different things, and not necessarily need the thing he is trading for himself. Say one person had tons of extra apples, and needs some ammo for hunting. Not needing the apples himself, the trader still takes them and gives away the ammo, knowing that many different families will want a few apples, and possibly one food preserver would want a lot of apples. So now his booth has apples to trade, and someone takes a few apples and gives a gallon of whiskey. A portion of the whiskey is traded for some baby chickens, etcetera.
The value created is that now there is a streamlined process for trading, so one person does not have to go around to all 100 of his neighbors, and waste 2 weeks trying to sell all his apples. It is a one stop shop to sell the apples, and due to the convenience and time saved, he can sell the apples for a lower price. Due to the lower price of the apples, the trader can profit on these when trading for things of more value. His value is that of a middle-man, organizing and streamlining the process. People see this work, and imitate the same business model in other areas. He cannot “gouge” his customers because they have other options for trading facilities.
But even that can become more efficient. The tradesman decides to start issuing credits in case he doesn’t have anything on hand that someone wants to trade. For transparency to keep his customers happy, he publicly states how many credits are in circulation at any given time, and creates a small accounting department to keep track of the credits, and inventory his warehouse of goods. Now he has created even more jobs, and a currency that people can use in place of tangible goods. If someone has a dozen eggs to trade but doesn’t need anything at the moment, he issues them 5 credits. He charges 5 credits for 3 pounds of root vegetables, or a small jar of honey. Other traders see the benefit in a credit system, create their own, and compete for whoever offers the best currency—most transparent, highest value, holds its value, not easily forged etcetera. The currency is backed by the value of the business and goods the trading house has.
From there the society would continue to advance, due to the extra goods created from the system which rewards production. An arbitration company may offer their services to the security companies, so that if they need to arrest someone, there is a third party system for determining guilt or innocence. There would soon be a market for education, so that your kids could be trained while you bring home the bacon. As the quality of life rises, more skilled people come to the area to enjoy it, and inject their expertise into the economy.
It grows and grows, due to competition, and the absence of one overarching group that would take a percentage of production by force, or favor some business at the detriment to others. People stay peaceful because everyone still likes to carry their gun, and because the quality of life is high enough so that there is no desperation. People moved to the area in the first place because of the high quality of life, and they will maintain it, or a market demand for peace will be supplied.
Competing Anarchist “Towns”
But that would just be one little society. Although they certainly would trade and associate with others, it is hard to put a number on the society, since they are so interconnected through trade with all those around them. Maybe about a million people all live within the area, but since someone imports citrus fruits from another area, you can’t really say it is just the million people. And isn’t that what we are after now? Not excluding people based on arbitrary borders.
Everyone may not agree on how a society should be run, but they don’t have to. They just need to agree on their business transactions, and the rest is organic. They can influence their own society by choosing where to live and who to do business with, but they cannot force others hundreds of miles away to live their life a certain way.
Remember, force is the only no no, and since it requires a victim, this means the victim or an advocate of the victim would necessarily accuse the suspected wrongdoer. This does not preclude the possibility of agreeing to other rules. For instance, many people want benefits to be bundled for a low price. It is appealing to send off one check to the government, and get all these goodies in return! Now in reality, the goodies are not worth the money. But in a for profit town, you would get incredible bang for your buck.
But it might require agreeing to some rules. This is not force; you don’t have to live there if you don’t want to, and all the land was private in the first place. So whoever owns the private land would be able to rent or sell this land with stipulations included in the contract, such as speed limits on the “town” owned roads.
And what you agree to is paying a certain price for trash pickup, plowing, and schooling. Some towns would even let you choose which services you want, and only pay for those ones. Don’t have kids? That’s fine, you don’t have to pay for the schooling portion. Or a town may offer a type of insurance structure, and sell you health, life, home, or whatever insurance in your package. Perhaps a town offers a set of benefits that you cannot opt out of; you benefit from the police keeping the town safe, and even though your house never burns down, others benefit from the fire department.
And to get back to the restaurant example, this would create some quality towns! Because what do you do when a restaurant gives you bad service? You stop going there, and write a nasty review online. I don’t know about you, but I check out the reviews before going places. And think of all the options! Want a fast food, bad but cheap, sort of town? That’s fine, maybe that’s all you need! But I think I will stay out of that town…
I prefer a steakhouse type town. A little more expensive, but better quality. Perhaps you do like quality, but can’t quite afford the best steakhouse. Well there just so happens to be chain restaurants (towns) that are not quite as good as a single steakhouse, but a hell of a lot better than fast food! Seriously, there are so many choices for restaurants because they must compete to attract customers! Friendly’s always made me feel sick. The government says their food is fine, but my stomach says it is crap. I don’t go to Friendly’s anymore. And luckily, the government has not yet mandated that I patronize Friendly’s, though they claim the authority to do so.
You want Mexican food, Chinese, sushi, fish, burgers, Indian cuisine, steak, Italian, hot dogs from a cart, subs, pizza, a breakfast cafe, a diner, five courses, a dollar menu, tapas, fondue, ice cream, or baked goods? I bet most people could find every single one of those within an hour of where they live. I don’t have to know the intricacies of the restaurant business to know that the food I want is going to be available, as long as no one forces them not to be (i.e. government).
(And on a side not, this is not an unregulated market: there would be even more restaurant and food choices if the government did not regulate them. For instance, an ordinance in one town shut down a young boy’s hotdog cart because surrounding restaurants had paid off the government to create a food monopoly on the block.)
Freedom of Association
Why are we all forced into groups that we may or may not want to be a part of? There is no conceivable reason that 300 million people need to agree on the best type of healthcare, or on one person to make executive decisions for the group, or even to protect themselves from outside threats. It is unnecessary! There is strength in numbers, and there is a point to being apart of groups, but those groups need to be of our own choosing to leave and join. We should have the freedom to associate with who we want, and the freedom to cut ties with those whom we do not wish to associate.
It is insane that I am forced to join 300 million other people in deciding if we will fund the next round of bombings in the middle east, or be forced to pay for contraceptives for someone I don’t know, and can’t possible know if they “need” or are just lazy. But when I can choose to join a group or not, I can decide whether or not I agree with the decisions the group makes. If there is someone that we all know who needs financial assistance, I can decide if they actually need it, or are just leeching. Then I can act accordingly if I want to stay in the group, fund this enterprise, and be afforded the same safety net, or leave the group in favor of saving my money, and not have the social insurance.
So great, if 300 million people all get together and have the same exact ideas about everything, let them! But it will not happen; there are so many different interests, alternatives, life styles, and world views. And that is fine! In the end the world would be united by trade, not by force.
As long as one group is not hurting another, people need to be free to associate or disassociate with whoever they want. And refusing to be forced to provide for another group is not hurting them. But that is the attitude of our government right now, that if you refuse to be a slave to your fellow man, it is the same as aggressing on him.
I read three hit pieces on libertarianism the other day, which was interesting. It was interesting because it made me realize how little these publications care about consistency. The authors did not get the difference between what the philosophy would “allow” for, and what would actually happen. They do not understand that believing a free market will sort everything out does not preclude the possibility of businesses doing bad things, it simply allows mechanisms other than force to define the outcome. They don’t get that men with guns forcing us to do what is “right”, is worse than the possibility that people will do something “wrong”, albeit, something that does not initiate force on another person.
So the authors are all hating on Uber (the unregulated cab service) because of unethical business practices towards competitors. “See, it’s not a free market if they are trying to dishonestly disadvantage their competitors”. Uhh… no, it would still be a free market. It is the responsibility of the consumer to choose what business tactics they will put up with; that’s what a free market means. A business can do anything that does not initiate force, and the consumers can choose which businesses to keep alive. Does this mean it is possible for assholes to own successful businesses? Yep.
But what a non-libertarian philosophy says is, if 51% of people agree, we can use force to outlaw being an asshole, or get rid of a business we have convinced 51% of the population is mean…even if they aren’t really. Libertarians say, we don’t have to use force, as long as Uber didn’t use force. You don’t like what they do? Don’t buy from them, and support the other guy. Boycott, and raise awareness about how bad the company is. Don’t resort to violence to force a company or person to “be nice”, unless they are aggressing on someone else.
Apparently Uber employees were calling up a rival taxi service, then canceling, causing delays for real customers. I don’t like that they did that, it seems dishonest. But there are ways to fight back without abandoning free interaction, throwing your hands up and being like, “oh, damn, I guess we need thugs with guns to make sure businesses play nice”.
The way it is now, “official” taxi companies do not need to resort to agressive tactics like Uber, because they already have! What do you think a union is? Literally, damaging another company with the threat of violence if they encroach on your business without jumping through the right hoops, which may preclude a new business because it adds costs which have nothing to do with the sales, safety, or market demands. So somehow Uber is worse for causing their competitors trouble without using force, than state sanctioned cabbies who never allow a competitor in the first place at the threat of violence or theft by the state. Just go and try to pick someone up in NYC and charge them for a ride, and see what happens if you get caught. That is okay?
And in addition to responding with boycott and other market solutions, the rival unregulated taxi business does have recourse. They could explain to their customers what happened, and tell them that is why they are implementing a system where, say, if you reserve a cab, there is a non-refundable $5 fee that pays part of the fare if not cancelled. They could explain to their customers what happened, and encourage the public to do the same to “punish” Uber. But to say because some businesses are run by jerks that all business should be subjected to thug regulators is silly. I’d rather a business be allowed to be a jerk, than have a business that is allowed to use legal thugs with guns who can imprison you. Right now we have the latter.
“Libertarians loooooove discrimination, and are racist”. And here is where people should really see the inconsistencies. Arguing that someone should be allowed to discriminate does not mean you yourself would discriminate, nor support businesses that discriminate. I honestly can’t believe people are serious when they argue this! Do people just go through life being carried by the wind, with no more philosophical grounding than, “that seems good” or “that seems bad”. “Well I know discrimination is bad, so if someone supports it, they must be bad!”
First off, the word discriminate means to tell apart. Would you discriminate against rapists who want to come into your child’s school? I would certainly hope so! People need to realize that no one is forced to patronize a business. What if a noisy motorcycle gang always came into your pizza place, makes a mess, and scares off the usual clientele without buying much? Would it be appropriate to discriminate against bikers if your business would otherwise fail? Or is being non-judgemental more important than your livelihood? Denying someone service is not the same thing as taking something from them, and I don’t think the authors of the various libertarian hit pieces understand that.
It is popular to equate discrimination with force, with stealing. But this necessitates a philosophy that says business owners are there to serve, not to profit. It essentially says, businesses are slaves to the people who must be provided us with things. If I took the time, energy, and money to make a product, that product is not owed to anyone for less of a price than I am willing to part with it. If that willingness to part with the product or service depends on who the customer is, that just means the provider of the product does not see value in the transaction. Should he be enslaved by the state and forced to provide that product or service? That is what anti-discrimiation laws do. They say, since you chose to go into business, and provide something of value, you no longer have the right to choose who to give that thing of value to, and will provide that product or service for the same price you provide it to others.
Again, this does not mean I am pro-discrimination! But to argue that they shouldn’t have the right to deny any customer betrays the intellectual depth of a toddler. I am the one who decided to make, sell, or provide a service, and if those transactions are not free for either party to agree or disagree to, that is literally slave labor. Should airlines go out of business with half full planes because their fat customers cannot be forced to buy 2 tickets, since that would be discrimination? Or should the skinny customer be forced into only half a seat, when he paid for a full seat, because the person next to him is overflowing?
How about gun shops that are currently forced to discriminate, based on who is approved by the government? Say I can’t afford the hundreds of dollars and hours of time and transportation to get my gun license, so I am discriminated against? I mean seriously we talk as if voter ID laws discourage minorities from voting, and we are okay with more hoops, and greater costs being imposed if people want to protect themselves? So to act as if these thugs we allow to have control over our lives (government) will prevent discrimination is absurd, they currently sanction countless types of discrimination. The difference is, since there is no free market, there is nothing we can do about it!
In a free market, am I going to support a business that hangs a sign, “No Irish”? No! Do they have the right to hang the sign? YES! What is so hard to separate about things you shouldn’t do, and things you shouldn’t be allowed to do?
Woof. Anyway this is turning into a rant and I am going to try to wrap this up. The bottom line is, stop pretending libertarians are racist just because their philosophy precludes government backed force. Just because I support the right to free speech, to say WHATEVER you want, does not mean I like or enjoy racist hate rants. It means I understand the philosophical pinnings that say someone is always going to want to silence you, so let’s be consistent in allowing no one to be silenced. Let’s never allow the initiation of force, which means even when you deny a customer service because they are Jewish, men with guns will not come and arrest you, kill you, put you in jail, and put a gun to your head while you make that sandwich.
And you want to talk real world? Fine. What is more democratic than allowing a business to die because they won’t serve Jews? Or are these anti-libertarians afraid that the business would survive while being terribly prejudiced? Yes, that is what they are afraid of. Not being able to initiate force against someone when they disagree with their non-aggressive—though unsavory—actions. And THAT is what being a libertarian is about. Knowing that no matter how rude, selfish, mean, or hateful a person is, force should not be used against them to quell their behavior, until he initiates force against someone else. That is the simple line of when it is okay to use force, when responding to it. Otherwise it is all arbitrary.
For each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Discrimination by a business does not legitimize locking that person in a cage, or taking their money at gunpoint. It does legitimize a social response of boycott, shunning, and lecturing; it does elicit the response of non-agressively ruining that business, and making sure every decent person knows what a horrible jerk the owner is.
I want to live in a world where people are decent because they want to be (or economic opportunity forces them to be nice out of self interest), not because there is a gun to their head. And guess what, if that world doesn’t exist without a gun to our heads, then it doesn’t actually exist with a gun to our heads either!