Taking Economic Liberty Seriously

Does the Constitution protect the right to earn a living?

On March 5, 1934, the U.S. Supreme Court declared New York shopkeeper Leo Nebbia to be a criminal because he sold two quarts of milk and a 5 cent loaf of bread for the combined low price of 18 cents. As Justice Owen Roberts explained in his 5-4 majority opinion in Nebbia v. New York, the state’s Milk Control Board had fixed the minimum price of milk at 9 cents a quart to eliminate the “evils” of price-cutting.

As for the constitutionality of this action, which raised the price of milk during the lean years of the Great Depression in an effort to boost the profits of New York dairy farmers, while doing absolutely nothing to improve the health or safety of the milk-drinking public, Roberts simply shrugged. “A state is free to adopt whatever economic policy may reasonably be deemed to promote public welfare, and to enforce that policy by legislation adapted to its purpose." Furthermore, “If the laws passed are seen to have a reasonable relation to a proper legislative purpose, and are neither arbitrary nor discriminatory, the requirements of due process are satisfied.” In other words, when it came to economic regulations, the courts needed only to rubber stamp whatever the lawmakers deemed “reasonable.”

Today, we call this highly deferential approach the “rational basis test,” and as Timothy Sandefur explains in his superb new book The Right to Earn A Living: Economic Freedom and the Law, the results have been disastrous for the judicial protection of economic rights. “Modern government is at liberty to violate a citizen’s right to earn a living almost at will,” Sandefur observes, pointing to a depressing array of occupational licensing schemes, state-sanctioned monopolies, price controls, regulatory takings, eminent domain abuse, and other government misdeeds that receive almost no meaningful scrutiny from the courts.

Expertly weaving legal history with contemporary events, Sandefur shows how this shameful state of affairs violates the text and history of the Constitution and contradicts some five centuries of Anglo-American precedent. The right to earn an honest living, he explains, dates back to the Magna Carta and was cited repeatedly by English judges and legal experts in the 16th and 17th centuries, directly influencing America’s founding generation. In 1615's The Case of the Tailors of Ipswich, for example, Lord Chief Justice of England Edward Coke declared, “at the common law, no man could be prohibited from working in any lawful trade.”

Nearly two centuries later, James Madison, one of the chief architects of both the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, echoed Coke’s words: “That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations.” Similarly, Rep. John Bingham (R-Ohio), the author of the first section of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which applied the Bill of Rights and other unenumerated rights to the states, said that the 14th Amendment included “the liberty...to work in an honest calling and contribute by your toil in some sort to the support of your felllowmen, and to be secure in the enjoyment of the fruits of your toil.”

So what went wrong? According to Sandefur, the blame falls largely on the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who believed that government action should be the primary agent of all social change. To that end, the Progressives enacted a mountain of new legislation that touched on every aspect of human life, from workplace regulations and antitrust statutes to alcohol prohibition, racial segregation, and eugenics.

When conservative state and federal judges began striking down some of these laws, Progressives responded by calling for judicial restraint, which is the idea that judges should defer to lawmakers and let the majority have its way. By the 1930s, leading Progressives such as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis had popularized a selective form of judicial restraint, one that told the courts to uphold economic regulations while aggressively protecting free speech and privacy. That set the template for today’s rational basis test and the second-class citizenship of economic rights.

It’s certainly not a happy story, but if you want to understand today’s illiberal legal landscape and how it got that way, this eloquent and carefully researched book is a perfect place to start.

Damon W. Root is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

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  • Max||

    I don't think the market gives a fuck about economic liberty. It's all about economic success. Fuck the losers.

  • Warty||

    Yes, fuck the losers, especially Edward.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Max,

    I don't think the market gives a fuck about economic liberty.

    You're an idiot, Max. The market is all of us.

    It's all about economic success. Fuck the losers.

    What losers?

  • ||

    Max is a crony for failed businesses.

    Basically he is a democrat.

  • Max||

    Lots of stuff functions better outside the market, moron. We live in a mixed economy with a lively public sector. A unfettered free market exists only in you fervid imagination, you market fundamentalist cock sucker.

  • Max||

    ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!!

  • ||

    Lots of stuff functions better outside the market

    Better for who? The guy priviledged with the political connections to get the government contract?

    The teachers with permanent job security? The public sector workers with their generous taxpayer-financed pensions?

  • Tony||

    Oh the evil parasitic teachers. Hey why don't you show me an example of universal K-12 education existing in the private sector, anywhere on earth, anytime in history. Thanks.

  • stupid republican||

    how is that a good thing? we have some the most idiotic children in the world. We are routinely beaten in knowledge surveys by many countries with no formal school system

  • affenkopf||

    Which country with no formal school system beats the US in knowledge surveys?

  • d||

    Monkeyhead: not sure about countries with "no formal school system", but Finnish kids don't go to formal school until age 7, and they beat the shit out of us like a drunken stepfather.

  • Josef Stalin||

    Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    On the flip side, I think you'll find it hard to show an example of a large American city that has universal education in the here and now.

    Oh, they all have universal "education", and that failed system is duly protected from meaningful competition by legislative action (well, the moderately wealthy can afford to pay twice, but the poor mostly can not), but they mostly fail for a significant portion of their "charges".

    Being a wishy-washy kind of libertarian, I an see offering universal education as a legitimate governmental task, but it is clear that government provision does not scale well. Time to try governmental funding.

  • ||

    If a teacher is incompetent yet can't be fired, then yes, that teacher is a parasite.

    Why is it that we're supposed to be morally obligated to revere teachers like they were nuns, pledged to soul-purifying servitude for the public good?

    OMG! She's a teacher, let's wash her feet with our hair!

    Fuck that. A lot of teacher today really are nothing but parasites, which is proven by the fact that they don't want anyone judging them on merit, and they think they deserve indefinite tenure and public deference to their sainted profession.

  • ||

    Hey why don't you show me an example of universal K-12 education existing in the private sector, anywhere on earth, anytime in history.

    Amazon.com

    The only universal public K-12 system I can think of is in North Korea.

  • NAL||

    Is that the one where the kids fall over and die from starvation while the other kids look on knowing their time is coming?

  • Best Korea||

    That's the one!

  • Soonerliberty||

    Show me an example of universal K-12 education existing in the public sector anywhere in the world. Oh, that's right, truancy rates prevent you. Oh, how theory and reality collide for you statist pigs.

  • cynical||

    Having a universal education system that doesn't actually universally educate is cheating.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Max,

    Lots of stuff functions better outside the market, moron.

    Indeed, like maybe photosynthesis. Human interactions do not function outside the market because WE'RE ALL THE MARKET, dumbass.

  • Max||

    We're all the market like Jesus is everywhere, in your case up your ass, you fucking dimwit.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Max,

    We're all the market like Jesus is everywhere[...]

    Wow, nice non-sequitur. Don't stroke your meat so much, you're liable to lose more IQ points.

  • ||

    Or like politics is everywhere, or like we're all society.

    So idiotic, these concepts.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Yes, we are us. Everything is ours. Can we hand me our glass over there. It's ours.

  • Max, simplified||

    We'd be a lot better off if we could just do away with the private sector, because it's full of nothing but cocksuckers.

  • stupid republican||

    and who needs water anyway, the cocksucking water, rawr!!!!!

  • ||

    i think you are confusing Shrike with Edward...I mean Max.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    What happened to shrike? I kinda miss him... the same way I'd miss an unscheduled proctology exam in a dark alley.

  • ||

    I think you left an r off your name there.

  • ||

    That's why we should have rules that require courts and governments to treat all market participants equally.

    The rules should be simple, minimal, and uniform, so that every can understand them, they aren't amenable to manipulation, and can't be selectively enforced.

    By having the government constantly tinkering with the economy, the left has created a byzantine system of rules that give advantages to those who can afford lawyers to understand them or buy political access to manipulate them, and enables authorities to selectively persecute individual businesses or companies, often at the behest of their competitors.

    Getting the government out of the business of attempting to manipulate the economy makes markets both fairer and freer. With minimal, equally enforced rules, every individual has the freedom to try to succeed and and equal chance, based on merit, to do so.

  • Martin||

    Don't forget about the right and their tax incentives.

  • ||

    The tax code is absolutely horrifically riddled with favoritism.
    If we can't get a flat tax, at least elimate all the tax breaks nad loopholes for everything. Make it flat within the basic brackets.

  • ||

    Hazel, I actually favor a poll tax. If you don't pay in, you don't get a say. One equal man, one equal tax, one equal vote.

  • ||

    That's why we should have rules that require courts and governments to treat all market participants equally.

    The rules should be simple, minimal, and uniform, so that every can understand them, they aren't amenable to manipulation, and can't be selectively enforced.

    By having the government constantly tinkering with the economy, the left has created a byzantine system of rules that give advantages to those who can afford lawyers to understand them or buy political access to manipulate them, and enables authorities to selectively persecute individual businesses or companies, often at the behest of their competitors.

    Getting the government out of the business of attempting to manipulate the economy makes markets both fairer and freer. With minimal, equally enforced rules, every individual has the freedom to try to succeed and and equal chance, based on merit, to do so.

  • Max, simplified||

    I don't think the government gives a fuck about economic liberty, which we liberal cocksuckers only tolerate because it's the only way to raise funds via taxation to fuel the holy cause of entitlement spending.

  • Today's Brickbat||

    Where am I?

  • All Brickbats||

    And how come we can't comment on them? (Sorry if that's been asked before. Yes, I'm new here.)

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Clearly you both are new...One of my longest bitches has been the name of that section...it is called DAILY!!!.

    ANGER RISING!

  • ||

    I blame The Big Ten, The Postal Service, and "Reason" magazine... (Drink!)

  • Jen||

    I blame rap music.

  • ||

    How is NOONE blaming BUSH?!?!?! (WTF??!)

  • omg||

    Fuck the Constitution. It is either powerless to stop the monster that has emerged, or it is complicit in the monster's formation. Either way, it has no right to exist.

  • dfd||

    Come on omg, paraphrasing without credit is no less plagiarism than lifting an entire passage verbatim.

    But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

    --Lysander Spooner

  • omg||

    Citations are so tedious.

  • stupid republican||

    what he said, i want my milk damnit , uncle sam, bring me your tit so i caqn suck on it, yes, just like that, now spank me and call me daddy

  • ||

    pronounce it "teat" or you'll be sayin' you're sorry.

  • ¢||

    Pining for Confederate-era thin libertarianism when America is MOAR libertarian than EVA? It has an iPhone!

  • ||

    There are the same number of explicit references to "freedom of contract" and "right to work in any trade" in the Constitution as there are to privacy, marriage and abortion.

    If you believe that Lochner (by the way, how is this case missing from the article?) was correctly decided, then you believe that substantive due process exists and give the green light for "legislating from the bench" or "judicial activism" or whatever its called these days. Roe v. Wade relies on the same thought process. If you believe that substantive due process is not a valid legal theory, then you're left with a Constitution with no mention of the right to sell milk at $0.09 cents a gallon.

  • ChrisO||

    What part of "enumerated powers" do you not understand?

  • ||

    I'm just pointing out the conundrum. Keep in mind, this story is about New York state milk controls, not Congressional acts.

  • omg||

    ANYTHING NOT IN THE CONSTITUTION IS BANNED.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    No one is saying "freedom of contract" is a federal right. Sadly, the states can totally fuck with your freedom of contract. And as long as they don't violate the dormant commerce clause, it is totally kosher.

    The issue is the feds' ability to do that. And there is just isn't anything in the constitution that gives the feds the right to take away economic rights. The commerce clause is supposed to be a check on the States not an empowerment of the Feds.

  • ||

    "The issue is the feds' ability to do that."

    I thought it was about New York milk prices, i.e., each state's ability to regulate and whether the Constitution protects rights not explicitly listed.

  • qwerty||

    Lamar is right. The powers of the Federal government are enumerated, but the powers of the states are not. (Yes, they should be, but they aren't) Therefore, the courts ruled correctly in not overturning the law.

    Say it three times:
    bad law != unconstitutional law

  • d||

    John: I'm not sure you deserve such a rant, but you seem to be a bit too deferential to the states on this one, so here are some commonsense snapshots of the Constitution that would seem to support a Federal right to "earn an honest living" any way you see fit (so long as you don't directly harm anyone else):

    The Fifth Amendment: in a nutshell don't take private property for "public use" without just compensation. Forcing someone to sell at a higher price without any good reason but to raise prices and make hack milk sellers rich is tantamount to taking from the productive milk sellers who could produce a superior product, produce it cheaply and sell it at a higher profit at, say, $0.05 instead of $0.09.

    Ninth Amendment: I'm pretty sure that the "right to earn an honest living without busybody/cartel interference" would fall under this heading, too.

    The Fourteenth Amendment:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    A reasonable person (uncorrupted by legal education) would probably construe this to mean that the state of New York should've butted the fuck out and had no right to enforce "state minimums". In fact, come to think of it, you progressives owe me about $9,000 for all these years of getting ripped off when I wanted to buy cheap beer and wine in KY and OH (inter alia), but had to pay "state minimum" prices. Thanks a lot SCOTUS ca. 1900 and your legal descendents! Fuckers!

  • CONCERNED CITIZEN||

    Or Article 1 Section 10: "No state shall make any thing but gold or silver coin legal tender in payment of debt.....or "Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts"

  • ChrisO||

    Government doesn't control the market by attempting to regulate it, it simply becomes a well-armed participant, not unlike the Mafia and its protection rackets.

    Moreover, the market exists regardless of government action. Repression simply drives the market underground.

    I don't know why all this is so difficult for those smarties on the left to understand.

  • ||

    Or creates distortions and inequities.

    The government *should* behave like a referee enforcing equal rules. But the left doesn't want it to be an impartial arbiter. It wants to to bias the system to "correct" for "social injutice" which often appears in the form of some people unfairly being born stupider than others.

    It also want it to be santa claus. Everyone's a winner! Magic presents will appear from a subterannean workshop staffed by elves.

  • smartass||

    They want a WWE referee, we want an UFC referee, is that it?

  • ||

    Not even WWE.
    They want a kindergarten teacher. Someone who's interpretation of 'play nice' is 'let the other kid win sometimes or I'll send you to the principal's office'.

  • ||

    It also want it to be santa claus. Everyone's a winner! Magic presents will appear from a subterannean workshop staffed by elves.

    And that's only okay if you aren't one of the elves.

  • Government||

    Nice little industry you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.

  • Leave a Comment||

    Set a minimum price for milk, so that the dairy farmers have enough money to pay their mortgages. Thereby making sure the bankers could pay their legislators. Never mind the starving peasants.

  • stupid republican||

    if you suck at dairy farming, u should not be a dairy farmer, making money for being good at something is called incentive, incentive drives the market.Uncle sam removes incentive by removing competition in it half-baked( however well-meaning) attempt to " give money to those poor farmers -boo hoo i cant stop crying-", if man cant make a dollar on his own, he doesn't deserve it.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    To treat this more seriously then it deserves:

    If it is not possible to run a dairy at a profit that is a clear signal from the market that there is too much production for the current demand and efficient production technique.

    The solution is to a) increase demand or b) reduce supply. Left to itself the market will take care of the imbalance as the dairymen either advertise, seek new markets, or go out of business. Note that the shakiest business will fail first, leaving the remaining ones more efficient in the aggregate.

    However, price controls turns off the signal, insures that there will continue to be an imbalance, and reduces the aggregate efficiency of the economy. That is, they make us (us being the hold population participating in the economy) poorer. One of the principle manifestation of that in this particular case is the poor people rendered unable to pay for a healthy amount of dairy in diets.

    Note that no one is entitled to a job in the dairy business. It simply doesn't matter that your family has been doing it for N years and M generation. If you can't make it pay, you either outlast your neighbors or find something else to do (or if you're immoral scum, you ask the legislator to make the rest of the people poorer to protect you from that necessity).

  • ||

    Ya know, farmers may be bigger douchebags than cops, fireman, and teachers.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Hardly, they're just folks.

    The agricultural revolution has wrought huge changes in the economic fabric. One of the results has been a mind numbing reduction in the need for agricultural workers, and consequently a substantial, long term depopulation of much of fly-over country.

    For the folks who live there and especially the ones who made a living that way this is a slow motion disaster. Social institutions that have been there for a century and whole towns wither up and blow away in the dust.

    Of course they don't like it, and try to fight it.

    But that doesn't excuse people thinking they can legislate the laws of economics nor robbing others to avoid learning how they fit into the new economy.


    Aside: As the scientific agronomists learn more about plant physiology they are learning how and why "organic" methods are sometimes very successful, and that knowledge is feeding back into low petroleum techniques. It is possible that the coming decades will see a tip back toward more manpower intensive farming as the profit optimum. If that happens those ghost towns will rise from the grave. If Congress will let them.

  • Old Mexican||

    So what went wrong? According to Sandefur, the blame falls largely on the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who believed that government action should be the primary agent of all social change.

    The first Progressives were actually Methodist protestants who believed the State could make people virtuous and thus hasten the arrival of Paradise on Earth. From this doctrine came such things as Prohibition (which we still feel today in the form of a war on drugs), Eugenics or the making of a virtuous man by genetics, State-run education, you name it. Progressives are not unlike the Taliban in their approach to people's individual rights.

  • Tony||

    And another brain is sadly lost to the Glenn Beck show.

  • Chris Matthews||

    Keep talking Tony, I'm getting a thrill up my leg!

  • Shoeless Chris||

    Yay! Ad hominem attacks versus a reasoned historical argument. Does the fact that Beck presents a particular interpretation of early 20th century history make it invalid?

    Intellectual honesty FAIL.

    And if I remember correctly OM is not a Beck aficionado to begin with.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Shoeless Chris,

    And if I remember correctly OM is not a Beck aficionado to begin with.

    No, I am not. The guy is a faux libertarian. He's good entertainment, that's all, but I don't take my cues from him.

  • Tony||

    How is watching a bloated imbecile with obvious psychological disorders rant incoherently about conspiracy theories good entertainment? Furthermore, how can by nutty uncle get in on the dough Beck is raking in? He does the same thing without a chalkboard. Why don't you go to the symphony or something?

  • ||

    How is watching a bloated imbecile with obvious psychological disorders rant incoherently about conspiracy theories good entertainment?

    I thought that Al Franken was your Ayn Rand.

  • Tony||

    That was not meant as a compliment to Ms. Rand.

  • ||

    Oh? You meant it as an insult to Al Franken?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "How is watching a bloated imbecile with obvious psychological disorders rant incoherently"

    Is Ed Schultz still on MSNBC?

  • VAN JONES||

    Thanks to Beck I'm no longer a Czar. Bow to me, peasent cracker mfers.

  • ||

    How is watching a bloated imbecile with obvious psychological disorders rant incoherently about conspiracy theories good entertainment?

    Ummm....Tony, why do you think any of us bother with you?

  • Kim Il Jong||

    He's so ronley. So, ronley.

  • Kuwanki||

    i thought he was talking about Michael Moore, the man who is living proof that cavemen fucked lizards.

  • stupid republican||

    your pretty good at sounding like a moron, wanna a job, you'll get micheal steeles old position, itmight be a little out of your comfort zone but hey, who gives a shit? by the way you talk i can tell you don't, not about reading or writing, or thinking freely for yourself and forming opinions based on research and unbiased contemplation, you were born for politics kid. now get on our knees. like the song goes " to be a star you gotta bang bang bang" and suck my dick while you're at it

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    And another brain is sadly lost to the Glenn Beck show.

    What does one thing have to do with the other, Tony?

  • Heh||

    He's a product of the universal k-12 public education system. You can't possibly expect him to be responsible for every non sequitur that flies off his fingers.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    And another brain is sadly lost to the Glenn Beck show.

    Oh, by the way, now that you are in your foot-in-mouth mode, let me show you how I know about Progressivism even before the Beckmister started to make it popular again:

    http://mises.org/daily/1259

    The Progressive Era and the Family - M. N. Rothbard
    In contrast, the Northerners, particularly in the areas inhabited by "Yankees," adopted a far different form of pietism, "evangelical pietism." The evangelical pietists believed that man could achieve salvation by an act of free will. More particularly, they also believed that it was necessary to a person's own salvation—and not just a good idea—to try his best to ensure the salvation of everyone else in society:

    "To spread holiness," to create that Christian commonwealth by bringing all men to Christ, was the divinely ordered duty of the "saved." Their mandate was "to transform the world into the image of Christ."

    This is the "collective salvation" that Beck alludes to. There's nothing new to this; neither is the leftist's ignorance of history, it seems.

  • Tony||

    OM, once again, as you constantly prove, a little education can be a dangerous thing.

    What is the point of this nonsense other than implying a vast multigenerational conspiracy a la Glenn Beck? It's meaningless. Why not talk about people who exist today and what they actually believe?

  • Shoeless Chris||

    I am not sure that anyone can be obtuse as you are. Here it is, in small words:

    We have traveled this road before and does not lead to a better society. It leads to less freedom and more hardship.

    That, is the point of all of this.

  • Tony||

    What road would that be? I'm all ears. Because seems to me social progressives, liberals, call them what you will, have done everything that's good about this country, starting with, in their historical context, the founding fathers as the most radical liberals the world has ever known. Followed by liberals freeing slaves, securing civil rights for women and minorities, and economic liberty for the poor and elderly. OM is talking about evangelicals. How many liberals are calling for the kingdom of Christ? He's stuck on a semantic brain fart.

    It's true that progressive movements have had strong historical ties to Christianity. Then again so have plutocrats and so does the KKK. Again, this is meaningless conspiracy theorizing and it belongs on Glenn Beck's blackboard and nowhere else.

  • A is Awesome||

    LOL, you associate classical liberalism with neo-liberalism. You are a highschooler.

  • ||

    That's partly why many people consider libertarians to be the true inheritors of the liberal label.

    The thing is that the progressive vision inherits a lot from the Protestant concept of bringing the kingdom of heaven down to earth. The socialist worker's paradise is really just a sectular version of it. We're all supposed to sacrifice and work hard to bring about the realization of God's plan for humanity, blah blah.
    The Christian concept of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is pretty much a pure communism, when you think about it.

  • Tony||

    Yeah there are definitely Christian roots to the concept of social justice. I'm an atheist, but I still see the value in social justice, including economic justice. I believe my tradition to be the continuation of the project of freedom. I believe that New Deal reforms are not incompatible with increasing liberty but absolutely essential to it in the modern world. You know, the one with modern medicine and where white land-owning males are not the only ones considered citizens. And libertarianism? Seems to be a fairly recent snake-oil philosophy meant to make plutocracy palatable to idiots who vote.

  • ||

    Excuse me, but I don't see where there is "justice" in the idea of everyone voting on who to rob to pay for free shit for everyone else.

    To me, "justice" is about treating everyone equally, not getting halfway through the game and then letting the losing players vote on how they can change the rules in their favor.

  • Tony||

    Hazel,

    Don't you get that being wealthy is "winning" in and of itself? If you want to say taxation is theft (but it can't be, as theft is defined by law), fine, it's a small evil. What that sacrifice pays for, in my opinion, is a much greater good. Life is about priorities, and your top moral priority seems to be keeping tax rates low. That's insane.

  • ||

    Don't you get that being wealthy is "winning" in and of itself?

    And if your business is ruined before you ever get to the point of being wealthy, due to moronic regulatory and tax policies? If you can't even get off the ground because you can afford the licenscing fees and the lawyer you need to comply with the byzantine regulations? Or if you get fined to the point of bankruptcy because you didn't hire a lawyer before you opened shop?

  • ||

    Tony: Doing a quick order-of-magnitude estimate, 1 million working man-lives are taken from us each year. I am counting a work day as 12 hours and not allowing for any weekends or holidays. 1 million lives every year. In my lifetime, 80 million man-lives. You dont see the moral imperative here? We need to try to give as much of those million man-lives back to their rightful owners as possible.

  • Hate Potion Number Nine||

    In your system the winning players get to change the rules to suit themselves. What's your point?

  • A is Awesome||

    Tony, FOR REAL, I seriously think you are just a troll. There is NO way a progressive or neo-liberal thinks like that.

    Look, I'm an atheist too, but social justice and economic justice do not exist. They are simply terms made up to give progressivism that grand label of 'justice'.

    Further, libertarianism is the opposite of plutocracy and any form of government like that. Also, the New Deal did absolutely nothing! Look at the economy in the late 1930s and early 40s, it continues to be recessive, it was WW2 that got us out of the Great Depression.

    Oh and stay away from insults, they don't make for a good arguement.

  • Tony||

    A is Awesome,

    Fine, by social justice I mean equality of opportunity and by economic justice I mean a measure of fairness applied to the distribution of resources. Fairness defined as something other than "finders keepers."

    Libertarians may not favor plutocracy but that's really the place it leads to. What you don't get is that you can't wish government away. Something will fill the vacuum you create by shrinking the legitimate one.

    I was not making a claim about the economic benefits of the New Deal, just the human ones. It's puzzling to me why libertarians are so starkly anti-human in favor of making everything a numbers game, yet you refuse to use any math in your economics.

  • Shoeless Chris||

    Okay, lets endeavor to quantify the human impact of the New Deal. I think unemployment figures measure both the human and economic impact.

    Despite the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the National Recovery Administration, the Public Works Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority etc. (all passed in 1933, a year with almost 25 percent unemployment) the unemployment remained above 15 percent until 1941.

    That is the road I mentioned before and that is the road I wish to avoid.

  • ||

    Fairness defined as something other than "finders keepers."

    "Something other than 'finders keepers'" is pretty broad.

    I think you really have no idea what "fairness" in resource distribution would look like. Unless you are a communist than equal distribution is obviously not it.

    The libertarian definition is not 'finder's keepers' is is fair exchange. If I acquired it through any non-coercive means - such as by people paying me willinging in exchange for my services, then it is fair for me to keep those earnings.

    So, what's unfair about people keeping what they've acquired though uncoerced exchange?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Equality of opportunity is impossible, Tony. There is no way in blistering hell to ensure that everyone gets an equal slice of pie.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Er, make that "equality of outcome", which is even more impossible.

  • Soonerliberty||

    "WW2 got us out of the Great Depression" Would this be the broken window fallacy? If war gets us out of depressions, why are we in a recession with Iraq and Afghanistan? Why not blow up the whole world and rebuild it? This is just as bad as anything Tony says.

  • DesigNate||

    Because we had a giant manufacturing base that crisscrossed the entire nation. Now we have a smaller base with contracts awarded through crony capitalism.

  • qwerty||

    Sorry Tony, but the Founding Fathers were not "liberals" in the same way that Obama and Pelosi are. And it was the Republicans that freed the slaves. We had to shoot a lot of Democrats to do it, too.

    Liberal != anyone Tony likes

  • Soonerliberty||

    It's funny that in Europe Tony would be called a conservative/social democrat. Libertarians are called liberals over here. This is simply because liberal in Europe means economic and social liberty.

    My brother's keeper and collective salvation are straight out of Obama's mouth. This false sense of paleolithic hunter-gatherer morality doesn't work in mass markets. Tony is still stuck in hunter-gatherer society, the ultimate conservative.

  • Tncm||

    If you believe the evidence presented in the linked article is incorrect or taken out of context, than please provide counter-evidence showing an alternative history of the Progressive movement.

    Much appreciated.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    What is the point of this nonsense other than implying a vast multigenerational conspiracy a la Glenn Beck? It's meaningless. Why not talk about people who exist today and what they actually believe?

    Don't be so obtuse, Tony. Ideas, like genes, have history.

    What road would that be? I'm all ears.

    The road to total government. It has been treaded before.

    It's true that progressive movements have had strong historical ties to Christianity.

    You missed the point - Progressivism IS a religious doctrine.

    Yeah there are definitely Christian roots to the concept of social justice. I'm an atheist, but I still see the value in social justice, including economic justice.

    I'm an atheist myself, and I can see that social justice is nothing more than a doctrine for personal salvation by making everybody else virtuous, by force if necessary.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    +many, many points, sir.

  • Kim Deal and Tony have a convo||

    This is a song about a superhero...

    HUH? ME TONY GO TONY'S THEME!!!

  • WTF||

    NO TEH SOCONS ARE TEH TALEYBAHN!

  • Old Mexican||

    Oh, and Max is an idiot.

  • A is Awesome||

    Nobody can disagree

  • Tom||

    Max has to be a joke.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Don't you know... the government knows all.

    They know when banks should lend money, to whom they should lend, who much executives get paid (even if that means breaking an existing contract), they even know what cars to make and which dealerships should or should not close.

    From that perspective, knowing what milk should be sold for seems easy by comparison....

    If you want: a post discussing the implications of the government being the majority stockholder in any private business.... anyone remember something called fiduciary responsibility?

    Post here

  • stupid republican||

    ha ha,u funy make me happy in my belly place

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    No discussion of Federalism in the article?

    The federal government with the right to strike down this kind of stupid is the kind that has the right to enact it's own monolithic stupid.

    But I guess that'd even be preferrable to what we have now: a federal government with practically unlimited power that won't kill stupid state laws (at least not of the economic/property based kind).

  • ||

    It's quite entertaining watching the leftists in this comment thread actually trying to defend *price controls* as both constitutional and effective.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    What you mean is that it's mindblowing in its utter stupidity.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Didn't some guy get featured here on Reason recently, saying that liberals don't believe in this shit any more? Yeah, right.

  • ||

    If the sheople of amerika took economic liberty seriously, there would be no public sector employees and certainly no public sector employee unions employing parasites like dunphy.

  • A is Awesome||

    "This is a perfectly useless discussion," said Eve Layton. "No intelligent person believes in free will anymore. The future belongs to social planning. Compulsion is a law of nature. That's that. It's self-evident."

  • Radcap||

    Threadjack!

    Read what they're saying now about Ron Paul at:

    http://www.newsrealblog.com/20.....11-mosque/

  • fendibags||

    LOL, you associate classical liberalism with neo-liberalism. You are a highschooler.

  • burberry scarf||

    Oh and stay away from insults, they don't make for a good arguement.

  • bags||

    We had to shoot a lot of Democrats to do it, too.

  • Some Guy||

    The problem with the rational basis test is irrational judges. But I don't know of a good way around that.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Fine, by social justice I mean equality of opportunity

    You cannot have "equality of opportunity", as opportunity, by definition, is happenstance. Since a person cannot be everywhere, instantaneously, the concept then is totally absurd.

    If you want to mean freedom to seek opportunity, then that has nothing to do with social justice, but with liberty.

    and by economic justice I mean a measure of fairness applied to the distribution of resources. Fairness defined as something other than "finders keepers."

    That's not problem. Let's not use "finders, keepers." Let's use "this I own and that you own, we can exchange or part ways, friends as ever." Fair enough?

    Libertarians may not favor plutocracy but that's really the place it leads to.

    By itself? You're living in another planet.

    What you don't get is that you can't wish government away.

    If that's the case, then it is clear Plutocracy happens WITH the government present, not DESPITE of it.

    yet you refuse to use any math in your economics.

    Do you use math in your economics? Can you give me an example?

  • ||

    Among your crude moronic friends, vulgar language is condoned. In a public forum you do not have the right to impugn others sensibilities with your gutter language. This is the essence of Libertarianism. As a 30 year Navy veteran, I am no stranger to such language, but I do not intrude on others with such crudities. Are you that devoid of language skills that you cannot express yourself appropriately?

  • Tony||

    crudités? thank you, I was feeling peckish

  • TakingLibertySerious||

    The rational basis test is not merely a threat to economic freedom but to virtually all freedom.

    Americans must insist that government recognize a fundamental right to liberty, protected by a real Constitutional Court, or the American freedom we hold dear will ebb steadily away as new laws accumulate.

    takinglibertyseriously net

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  • jaw crusher||

    You cannot have "equality of opportunity", as opportunity, by definition, is happenstance. Since a person cannot be everywhere, instantaneously, the concept then is totally absurd.

    If you want to mean freedom to seek opportunity, then that has nothing to do with social justice, but with liberty.

    and by economic justice I mean a measure of fairness applied to the distribution of resources. Fairness defined as something other than "finders keepers."

    That's not problem. Let's not use "finders, keepers." Let's use "this I own and that you own, we can exchange or part ways, friends as ever." Fair enough?

    Libertarians may not favor plutocracy but that's really the place it leads to.

    By itself? You're living in another planet.

  • mineral process equipment||

    It's true that progressive movements have had strong historical ties to Christianity.

  • grinding plant||

    If you want to mean freedom to seek opportunity, then that has nothing to do with social justice, but with liberty.

  • myfriend123||

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