Monthly Archives: September 2010

Politics Using Rational Self-Interest

If you want a libertarian society, Objectivism is a dead end. Liberty is a public good in a democracy (or republic, if you prefer). Somebody has to vote against receiving their own fair share of largesse from the public treasury. Somebody has to plant signs, knock on doors, pay for ads, attend meetings, etc. without adequate compensation. What libertarians might receive in tax cuts is dwarfed by the cost of getting those tax cuts. Liberty requires freedom-loving altruists.

David Friedman acknowledges the conflict between self-interest and liberty and has vocally denounced even bothering with electoral politics. His writings call for dismantling democracy entirely in order to reconcile concern with justice and the general welfare with self-interest. Alas, though I find Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom to be a truly fascinating work, I am skeptical of his proposal these days. I read Forbes too much. Mergers and industry consolidation happen all too often in industries where competition is more feasible than core government functions. Like it or not, those core government services are much more efficiently delivered by monopolies. Choice has higher costs than the alternative of monopoly profits. I’d rather not risk autocracy (or conquest, or civil war) in order to experiment with anarchy in the U.S. If someone wants to have a go at creating anarcho-capitalism somewhere where the government is already extremely bad, then more power to them. Cuba awaits.

Though one cannot sell the complete libertarian package through self-interest and get paid for doing so, one might sell parts of the package this way. I’m going to take a crack at it, going after perhaps the least likely customers: people looking for free money from the government. Obviously, these people are not in the market for straight libertarianism, but perhaps a variation on Charles Murray’s Plan might work. That is, dismantle the welfare state and give all citizens a monthly dividend check.

Evil? Maybe. But not nearly as evil as giving out Ayn Rand books.

Whose Morality?

Another update of the On Enforcing Morality book: Whose Morality? It’s all well and good to say the government should make people better, but who gets to determine what is better? The original edition focused on the danger of enforcing morality in that the immoral vote, and can enforce immorality. This lesson remains — becauseContinue Reading

The Most Unpleasant Holiday of the Year

It is that time of the year again: time to go without food or liquid from sunset to sunset. It is the Day of Atonement, one of the seven Holy Days of the year given in the Bible, a day observed by Jews and a small minority of Christians. I hate it. I hate fasting.Continue Reading

The Moral Priority Quiz

I hear many Christians say that abortion is murder, yet few if any call for the death penalty for committing abortion. In fact the silence is deafening when it comes to any discussion of the penalty for abortion from any pro-life politician. Personally, I am not sure that abortion is murder, but it does comeContinue Reading

Should We Enforce Morality?

Years ago, back in 2004, I wrote a few articles under “On Enforcing Morality” making the case that the government has a limited role. I tried to be sympathetic to conservatives but I don’t think I pulled it off. Today, I am older, more conscious of my mortality.  And with a mortage and a toddler,Continue Reading