There Is No Such Thing as Economic Freedom, There Is Only Freedom

Advocates of individual liberty need to emphasize that freedom is indivisible.

In 1938 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a federal law prohibiting the interstate shipping of filled milk violated neither the commerce clause nor the due process clause of the Constitution. What is best remembered about that opinion is “Footnote Four,” which has influenced American jurisprudence ever since.

Writing for the majority in United States v. Carolene Products Company, Justice Harlan F. Stone set out the doctrine that some kinds of freedom are more equal than others. Specifically, certain government acts warrant a higher judicial scrutiny than other kinds. The latter are to begin with a presumption of constitutionality. Harlan wrote:

There may be narrower scope for operation of the presumption of constitutionality when legislation appears on its face to be within a specific prohibition of the Constitution, such as those of the first ten amendments.

In other words, when the Court decides that a government regulation lies beyond an explicit constitutional prohibition, for example, one found in the Bill of Rights, the court should presume it is constitutional and not subject to the strict scrutiny that regulations lying within some explicit prohibition deserve. The footnote is better understood when we see the text it is attached to:

[T]he existence of facts supporting the legislative judgment is to be presumed, for regulatory legislation affecting ordinary commercial transactions is not to be pronounced unconstitutional unless, in the light of the facts made known or generally assumed, it is of such a character as to preclude the assumption that it rests upon some rational basis within the knowledge and experience of the legislators. [Emphasis added.]

That is, the Court will simply assume members of Congress had a good reason to regulate some aspect of commerce unless it can be shown otherwise. When it comes to economic activity, there is to be no presumption of liberty as there is in other matters.

Hence the bifurcated system of freedoms—noneconomic and economic—we labor under today.

Advocates of freedom know this doctrine is based on an error and invoke the indivisibility of freedom in response to it. But too often they undercut their own case by talking about . . . economic freedom.

The Indivisibility of Freedom

I realize this phrase may be meant only to emphasize the depreciated aspect of freedom, but as free-market advocates know, intentions don’t nullify effects. Whenever one says “economic freedom,” one implies that other kinds of freedom exist. That of course does not imply that some freedoms are more equal than others, but it certainly opens the possibility. That can’t happen if we insist that freedom is indivisible.

The case for the indivisibility of freedom is not hard to make when one remembers that there are no economic ends. There are only ends, namely, the values we pursue in the course of our lives. I recall first hearing Thomas Sowell make this point about 30 years ago. He writes in Basic Economics:

One of the last refuges of someone whose pet project or theory has been exposed as economic nonsense is to say: “Economics is all very well, but there are also non-economic values to consider.” Presumably, these are supposed to be higher and nobler concerns that soar above the level of crass materialism.

Of course there are non-economic values. In fact, there are only non-economic values. Economics is not a value in and of itself. It is only a way of weighing one value against another.

There are only non-economic values. If that is so, then there is no economic freedom. There is only freedom. Full stop.

No Economic Purposes

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  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Thus dividing freedom into spheres is both arbitrary and ultimately destructive.

    Butbutbut... Filthy lucre poisons all! (according to both Bible and Manifesto)

  • John||

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/wei.....e_day.html

    Dave Weigel gets his panties in a wad over "disturbing image" some scary conservative sent him. The comments are hysterical. It is amazing what "respect my athoritah!!" "respect the office" flag waivers liberals become when their team gets in power.

  • Ken Shultz||

    We could respond to Weigel, but we're just a bunch of rat-fuckers who should set ourselves on fire. What difference does it make what we think?

  • John||

    Calling everyone on the other side rat fuckers is just civil dialog.

  • Bucky||

    it seems that the soviet tank in the picture has created a thread jack...

  • johnd2||

    Clearest most spot on short article since the golden rule. Yea !

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    since the golden rule.

    He who has the gold makes the rule?

  • John||

    Living a human life consists in the pursuit of a variety of values, some material, some not. Thus dividing freedom into spheres is both arbitrary and ultimately destructive. There is no economic freedom and non-economic freedom.

    But the smug self righteousness of doing good is so much more noble than making money.

  • KPres||

    Living a human life consists in the pursuit of a variety of values, some material, some not.

    Richman makes the same mistake that all ascetics make. All values are material, or rather, the material/not-material dichotomy is and empty and meaningless.

    For example:

    Is paying a psychologist to fix your "soul" a material or a non-material service? The question is senseless. The only thing that matters is that the client values the service, and it's no different than valuing the service of an auto mechanic or a home builder.

  • CockGobbla||

    OT:

    I just got back from Walt Disney World. Does anybody else dislike the "re-imagining" of former rides to now include characters from Disney films?

    Examples:
    1) "ExtraTERRORestrial: An Alien Encounter" is now "Stitch's Great Escape".

    2) "Pirates of the Caribbean" now features an animatronic Jack Sparrow from the films.

    3) "Test Track" was closed. But I've heard a rumor that they're "re-imagining" it as a Tron-style ride.

    I know they've got to cater to broader interests than mine, and I'm sure they need to promote their films at the parks. But I guess I'll just have to be nostalgic for the time when the parks featured original characters and concepts you couldn't see at the movies.

  • ||

    Truly "The Most Horrible-est Place On Earth." But Flippers Pizza next door is terrific.

  • ||

    I would rather be skinned alive and tied to a fire ant bed than have to enter the gates of Disney.

  • Killazontherun||

    Never been. Never going.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's just easier for people to imagine that when you're talking about civil rights, you're talking about their rights, but when you're talking about property rights, you're talking about the rights of someone else (who has more property).

    Sometimes it seems like the best way to advance the cause of liberty is to try to persuade other people of their own potential. The more people are persuaded that advancing their own economic interests is within their ability, the more they'll stand up and defend the rights upon which that ability depends.

    Certainly, Obama and the Progressives seem to spend a lot of time trying to convince people that the government needs to solve our problems for us because the problems we have are beyond our abilities.

  • ||

    You make a good point and I think the best way to teach about the importance of property rights would be to remind people how relatively wealthy even "the poverty stricken" are in the U.S. relative to the rest of the world.

    Imagine the outcry a policy of redistributing kitchen appliances to the rest of the world's poor would get if it meant that our "poverty stricken" were forced to give up some of their kitchen appliances in the name of being humanitarian.

    People like Nando would be self-righteously shaking their heads in wonderment and posing questions like "How do Americans justify putting appliances above people?"

  • Mr. FIFY||

    People like Nando use phrases like "freedumb" and "Christfag".

  • Bill||

    As in the Freedumb to starve? Gotta love it.

  • ||

    The North Carolina man visited by armed EPA agents after sending an email to a controversial agency official…

    The letter to an EPA external affairs director read "Do you have Mr. Armendariz's contact information so we can say hello? - Regards- Larry Keller."

    OUT OF CONTROL!

  • John||

    http://pjmedia.com/blog/should.....-injuries/

    Good tongue in cheek article from Theodore Dalrymple about the need to ban girls' soccer. Of course this is unthinkable. But banning sports like boxing and football in the name of safety isn't, even though as the article shows soccer maims a lot of young girls. The total lack of concern over this just shows that most safety crusades are all about class warfare not safety. What undesirables do is always unsafe.

  • ||

    Soccer should be banned...PERIOD!

    ...the downfall of society. What are we, effeminate, wine sipping, bread tearing, cheese eating, socialist Eurotrash?

    Anybody else notice our entitlement obsessed society started about the same time soccer started rising in popularity? Huh? Huh? Coincidence? I think not!

    This is what happens when kids stop playing football and baseball. They stop drinking Budweiser and start on the wine and cheese. Let your kids participate in soccer at your own peril!

  • wareagle||

    I blame soccer for the death of the white football player. Mamas got all weak-kneed about Tyler, Jordan, and Ashton having to knock heads with, you know, those other kids.

  • Killazontherun||

    Soccer is not so much an unmanly sport; I typically felt pretty sore after playing matches, but it is a simple sport. That is why it so popular in third world countries where the emaciated youth can understand its simple rule structure. You are not going to succeed in introducing a sport with a complex, or even a rule structure that you need to constantly keep in mind as you are playing like baseball, football or basketball to a kid who hasn't eaten in a few days. Kick ball, that direction, gets through. Cover inside game of your opponent whose outside shots are abysmal will not.

    The good news is nutrition rates and wealth are increasing by leaps and bounds in the third world in general, so in a few generations, soccer will be seen as a throw back and embarrassing reminder of their previous poverty.

  • some guy||

    I don't think soccer is popular because of its simple rule structure, but because of its simple equipment requirements. All you need is a ball and some rocks or bits of trash for markers. When it comes to rules I don't expect any kid to be able to grasp anything complicated, regardless of nutritional intake. Ever seen a bunch of suburban six year olds on a soccer field? They are fed better than a Renaissance king, but can barely keep track of which direction they're supposed to go.

  • ||

    As predisposed as I am to this thesis. I don't find this line of argument compelling. 'Property Rights' is a perfectly meaningful and useful term.

    There may be an argument that property rights are as essential to freedom as civil rights, but it's nonsense to say you can't distinguish between the two.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Sometimes it can be hard to get people to even think about the idea that property is a right.

    We've had people come to the city council and object to our project on the basis that they enjoy walking their dog on our undeveloped property every morning. When a city councilman asked this guy what he thought we should be able to build on our property, the guy responded, "I don't see why they should be allowed to build anything".

    Blanket approaches probably aren't necessary. When we find people who need to be persuaded that there isn't a difference between civil rights and property rights, we should persuade them of that, but there are still an awful lot of people who need to be persuaded that property rights really are a right.

    Just calling them "property rights" can thought provoking to some them.

  • Brian D||

    When a city councilman asked this guy what he thought we should be able to build on our property, the guy responded, "I don't see why they should be allowed to build anything".

    I hope that comment was followed by a Super Mega Facepalm.

  • Bucky||

    how dare you plan to take away my doggy's bathroom!

  • perlhaqr||

    Fuck that guy in the ear. Jesus christ what is wrong with people?

  • robc||

    You should have him arrested for trespassing the next time he walks his dog.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You should have suggested that the fucker knock down his house if he's so fucking keen on having a vacant lot for his dog to shit on.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Or maybe the city should knock his house down and build a dog park for everybody else?

    We were trying to rezone it to residential at the time--we could have put up some light industrial manufacturing there the way it was zoned. But we wanted to go with something that would draw less opposition from the neighbors, etc...so we went and asked for a zoning change.

    Anyway, that's what I whispered to my partner. "I think the city should knock down his house and put up a fucking hot dog stand." I was joking, of course, but, you know, there are a lot of people out there right now who think that one of the functions of government is to decide what to do with other people's property.

    Some of them don't really think about it enough to really think of it as someone else's rights. The disconnect is sort of like what I heard Jim Crow was like among a lot of white people in the South. There were white people in the South who--didn't know black people wanted to go to their schools.

    It just never occurred to a lot of them until black people started standing up for themselves. So, anyway, I'm not saying having property rezoned is just like Jim Crow, but people's attitudes about the government having ultimate authority over such things are similar. And just like Jim Crow, those attitudes won't change unless they're challenged.

    P.S. Incidentally, we won and got the zone change--despite what that guy said. They were just words in the end. Didn't hurt a bit.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I almost wish the councilman asked him why his wife should have the right to not have anal sex with anyone who wanted to take a turn.

  • Surly Chef||

    There may be an argument that property rights are as essential to freedom as civil rights, but it's nonsense to say you can't distinguish between the two.

    Actually there are plenty of libertarians that would disagree with that because, all "rights", civil or otherwise, are property rights stemming from self ownership. Furthermore you've totally missed the point of the article and Mises largest work and focused on a distinction without a difference.

  • ||

    Self ownership as property right fails on the face of it. If you owned yourself you could sell yourself.

    There are meaningful differences between civil rights and property rights.

  • ||

    You sell yourself every day. It's called work.

    Are you claiming you shouldn't be "allowed" to sell yourself?

  • wareagle||

    some folks are not allowed to "sell" themselves legally. They are called hookers.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    this. Seriously I have heard that tired argument a few times and rolled my eyes each time

  • califernian||

    If you don't own yourself then someone else *does*.

  • KPres||

    I kind of agree with Warren. The "self" is the owner, and can't be owned. What you own is your labor. The problem comes when people think that a capitalist's profits/rent are a form of property generated without labor, when in fact, they're a product of the capitalist's intellectual labor (ie, making decisions about how to allocate capital).

  • Surly Chef||

    Again, you haven't refuted the article or argument. You've simply restated the fallacy the argument attempts to disprove. You haven't even stated the meaningful difference between economic and civil rights, all you've done is said it is so, because you said so. Try again.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There may be an argument that property rights are as essential to freedom as civil rights, but it's nonsense to say you can't distinguish between the two.

    The fact is that people do distinguish between the two, and if we're going to engage with them, then we might as well use words the way they understand them.

    There's an argument in theory, and then there's an argument for marketing purposes. I think we all agree that there's no real difference between civil rights and property rights in principle. The question is how to present that argument to people who don't understand that fact yet.

    Certainly, before we explain to people that property rights are just like civil rights, we might want to make sure they're on board with the idea that property rights really exist.

  • KPres||

    "The fact is that people do distinguish between the two, and if we're going to engage with them, then we might as well use words the way they understand them."

    Ken, your problem in general is that you think these people are intellectually honest, when in fact, all of their arguments are just rationalizations of theft. The proper way to "engage" them is with abject defiance.

  • wareagle||

    why must all of them be treated as being intellectually dishonest just for holding a different belief system? Yes, some are being deliberately provocative by conflating terms but not all. The default mechanism of "abject defiance" just sounds like the smart-ass kids who treated everyone else as stupid and found themselves hanging off tree branches by their underwear.

  • ||

    KP is right. Look at Tony's comments on yesterday's ObamaCare thread for a perfect example. We've allowed the other side to make unproven claims, which when repeated enough times become "undisputed" facts upon which to build their straw men. We need to call them out and make their immoral behavior crystal clear, not only to them, but to anyone listening to their arguments. When they propose theft, we need to, in NO uncertain terms, brand them as thieves.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Tony's basically a Moonie.

    He's impervious to logic. You can straighten him out on Monday, and he'll be back on Wednesday saying the same thing you debunked last time...

    But not everybody is like that, and we need to reach the ones that can be persuaded. None of us were born libertarian; all of us were persuaded by something we read or someone who took the time to explain things to us.

    There are lots of people like we all were once--people we could reach. And we need to reach them. That's the other thing libertarianism is all about to me--making more libertarians. That's our only real hope, and I'm seeing people becoming more libertarian all the time on various issues.

    No reason why property rights can't be one of those issues. We can persuade people that the world's a better place when we all respect each other's property. Things have become especially convoluted over the past few years, with two presidents stepping in and using our property to bail out Wall Street, etc.

    Even dishonest people know, instinctively, those bailouts were wrong. It's up to us libertarians to explain to the honest ones why. So, put on your Captain Obvious superhero uniform. Just becasue what's painfully obvious to you isn't painfully obvious to everyone else doesn't mean everyone else is dishonest or impervious to the truth.

    Sometimes they just haven't yet had anyone explain to them the gospel truth.

  • EJBlitz||

    Good point Warren. The problem arises when people want to define away counter-arguments, which is essentially what an attack against any distinction between different rights attempts to do. That some believe that 'all rights are derivative of, or in any meaningful sense, the same as, property rights' is an attempt to ignore distinctions to win the argument about the equal treatment of those distinct rights. That is a horrible form of argumentation and is unconvincing except to those who have already been convinced of the basic libertarian premises and are merely talking among themselves.

    The better approach is to recognize that there are different rights, that they flow from x set of normative principles, and that they all have an equal importance/weight in being protected because of the unitary nature of man's entitlement to said rights.

    It is a better argument that the distinct rights should be treated equally under the law than to argue that the obvious distinctions that can be made in the application of right's theory to political outcomes should be disregarded, because it is the argument for the equal treatment of rights which is critical to the understanding of how rights are employed in normative and political debates. If you don't confront the equality of treatment arguments (or lack thereof) of your opponents, you cede that important aspect of the debate to your opponents.

  • John||

    Contrast this

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/09/.....?hpt=hp_c1

    With this

    http://pjmedia.com/blog/memorial-to-eagles/

    When it comes to getting water to real people, the spotted owl is all important. Sorry Tombstone. When it comes to chasing green unicorns with wind power, fuck the eagles and birds, endangered species act be damned.

  • perlhaqr||

    So the hierarchy goes: Bullshit green energy projects that haven't actually reduced the number of coal fired plants by even one - Birds of all sorts - people who refuse to live in big cities like good little drones.

  • John||

    More proof Obama is just really a nasty fucker in private.

    However, there are some cheap seats available. A year and a half ago, big-money Democrats in Rhode Island paid $7,500 per person for the privilege of having dinner with President Obama at a private home in Providence. He showed up for 20 minutes and then said he couldn't stay for dinner. "I've got to go home to walk the dog and scoop the poop," he told them, because when you've paid seven-and-a-half grand for dinner nothing puts you in the mood to eat like a guy talking about canine fecal matter. And, having done the poop gag, the president upped and exited, and left bigshot Dems to pass the evening talking to the guy from across the street. But you’ve got to admit that's a memorable night out: $7,500 for Dinner with Obama* (*dinner with Obama not included).

    http://www.nationalreview.com/blogs/print/302269

    What an asshole.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Do those people keep kissing O's ass or does that make them reconsider their support?

  • I love me some liberty||

    He may sound like an ass to people like us, but he's just maximizing the money/time ratio. Do you think any of those people who paid that much to see him are going to suddenly not vote for him? Probably not... He'll still walk on water to them.

  • Cloudbuster||

    I'd like to think that if I paid $7500 for an evening with some celebrity (assuming first that I was stupid enough ever to do that, which may invalidate the rest of my proposition), and said celebrity stood up there, made a poop joke and started to duck out, I'd have the cojones to stand up and stay "Wait, just a frickin' minute there, buddy! I didn't pay $7500 to listen to you make a poop joke and ditch me."

  • Bucky||

    it all depends what 'dinner' is
    or at least that's what slick willie would have rejoinered...

  • ||

    They had the honour of contributing to the Cause and taking one for Team Blue. How can they complain?

  • Juice||

    Bill Maher gave him a million dollars. A million. I don't believe dinner was involved, but I think Barack let him fuck Michelle in the mouth.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, no. You probably didn't pay $7,500 to "listen to you make a poop joke and ditch me". You probably paid $7,500 to put yourself on the presidential radar as someone willing to pony up a sizeable chunk of change to his campaign so that you get remembered when it comes time to dole out the swag. Hell, you might as well send your secretary to the actual dinner.

  • ZigDaBig||

    Sounds like a plan to me dude. Wow.
    www.Total-Web-Anon.tk

  • VG Zaytsev||

    In other words, when the Court decides that a government regulation lies beyond an explicit constitutional prohibition, for example, one found in the Bill of Rights, the court should presume it is constitutional and not subject to the strict scrutiny that regulations lying within some explicit prohibition deserve.

    If only the Bill of Rights said something like:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    Or

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
  • ||

    Those are some really great amendment ideas...

    But I'm guessing if they were included in the Constitution, they'd just be ignored.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Yeah, it seems that basically cancels out their stupid non-logic.

  • ||

    What a bunch of jizzstains. That which is not explicitly allowed to the government by the Constitution is off-limits. How the shit do you get a Supreme Court this retarded?

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    This. +1

  • ||

    Not retarded... incented. I hate to play the part of a cliché, but allow me to remind everyone, in my own words, how Jefferson foresaw all of this:

    The Court is part of the Federal Government. They are intended to be a check on the other branches, but also on the states (and the people). They possess, by fiat, the power of judicial review. Why would they not sophistically interpret away limits on federal power?

  • Juice||

    FDR, dude. FDR.

  • Sevo||

    John|6.10.12 @ 8:56AM|#
    ..."When it comes to chasing green unicorns with wind power, fuck the eagles and birds, endangered species act be damned."

    And choo-choos:
    "Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to keep possible environmental challenges from derailing California's high-speed train project."
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/.....426D36.DTL

  • ||

    When the hell are non-Blue Fortress areas of California going to secede and institute the Commonwealth of California already?

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    I am actually hoping that Brown succeeds in elevating the train project above the environmental regulation morass. The sooner he does that, the sooner others can ask aloud, "Well, why not this project too? Or that one?" and the sooner the whole obstructionist scam will fall apart. The train project is economically impractical and will fail on that basis (sadly, not without throwing hundreds of millions or many billions of dollars down the rat hole). But as long as Brown keeps it alive, it may be just the lever we need to get out from under the onerous weight of environmentally-justified tyranny. If that is the result of this episode, even several billion dollars lost will be money well-invested; state productivity in the absence of environmentally-based micromanagement will soar more than high enough to make up for the loss, and then some.

  • Longtorso||

    All rights are property rights. If you conduct your worship service in my living room, I get to call the cops to kick you out. If you conduct it in a church bldg you own, I can't. A free press implies privately owned presses - the govt will always decide what gets published on a printing press it owns.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Property rights = racism.

    /liberal snark

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    It strikes me that self-ownership is, in some ways, a religious concept. Its underlying assumption is that there is a self that is separate from body, labor, material goods produced or secured by that labor, etc. A soul, if you will. That soul owns the body, owns the products of that body's labor, owns itself. But of course, as pointed out above, the owner cannot sell itself. That is, you cannot really sell your soul (unless, I suppose, it is actually just some energy field that can be extracted from the body, leaving the latter a lifeless corpse or a deterministic zombie). As a practical matter, you "sell" your soul by believing in or agreeing to constraints, in exchange for something you think you value. I think it is one's belief in and acceptance of the chains that makes them effective: the voluntary abandonment of free will. So I wonder: If there is a "hell," where sold souls go, are they held captive more by the Devil's coercive power, or by their own sense of contractual honor and acknowledgement of their own participation in their downfall? If sold souls have no free-will, what is the nature of their suffering; do they really suffer at all? But if they do have free-will, what happens if a large number of them just say NO to captivity? Would the power of the Devil be strong enough to contain them all? Odd that this discussion sends my thoughts in such a direction, but there it is.

  • Killazontherun||

    Who is this 'you' of which the narrative above makes use? Sounds like religious malarkey.

  • Sevo||

    James Anderson Merritt|6.10.12 @ 3:26PM|#
    It strikes me that self-ownership is, in some ways, a religious concept. Its underlying assumption is that there is a self that is separate from body, labor, material goods produced or secured by that labor, etc."

    Self-ownership simply presumes that an individual is the conscious moral agent directing the process of his life.
    No duality required.

  • Pi Guy||

    Is this one of those "Only with god can you have freedom" piles o' BS?

  • CE||

    People have been selling their souls for a long time. It's called "making a deal with the devil".

  • Number 2||

    Footnote Four from the Carolene Products decision was the final step in the Progressive legal effort to effectively re-write the Constitution so that "majority rule," and not the protection of liberty, became its overriding purpose. Instead of being a government of limited powers, the federal government became a Leviathan that could do anything except when the Constitution expressly says it cannot. And it reduced the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to meaningless words.

  • ||

    I concur wholeheartedly with everything you have said, excepting "final step." Wickard and "substantial effects" came afterward, no?

  • Number 2||

    Wickard did come later (1942). I see your point. But Wickard addressed the question of what constitutes "interstate commerce," while Carolene Products addressed a different question: whether the Constitution imposes any limits on enumerated powers other than what it expressly says the federal government cannot do. Technically these are different issues, and Carolene would still have been good law even if the Court decided Wickard differently. But without Carolene, the farmer in Wickard could have challenged the ban on growing wheat for personal use on liberty grounds, regardless whether it constituted "interstate commerce."

    Wickard was so extreme that even my liberal law professors were a little embarrassed by it, and described it as probably the "outer limit" of the commerce clause. But there was no such qualms about Carolene Products.

  • ||

    Again, no argument as far as that goes -- merely pointing out, as your law professors did, that Wickard takes you to the "outer limits." You still need Wickard, Raich, etc. for activities that are not commericial transactions, but which have "substantial effects in the aggregate," or whatever the actual criterion is. And that is the desideratum of the federal statist, who often caries the moniker of "progressive."

    Or have I mistaken the jurisprudential precedents?

  • Number 2||

    No, you're right. I may be splitting hairs. An occupational hazard.

  • Adam Schulman||

    It strikes me that Richman is not the asking + answering the most difficult philosophical question from the perspective on someone who wants to consign economic rights to a lower tier. The harder question is why we should not see a difference in kind between life+liberty rights and property rights. There are several possible reasons we should see a difference. 1. Under an individualistic type of framework, self-ownership life+liberty rights will always precede in time the creation of property rights in external things-- essentially the Lockean paradigm. Isn't that alone enough to say that life+ liberty rights have more primacy? 2. no one perceives external objects that they own to be the same as his/her own body. Another way of saying this that we are more closely attached to our own bodies than our property. 3. Liberty+Life rights are more egalitarian + meritocratic than property rights. i.e. everyone starts with one life and body, not true of property.

    Maybe this just boils down to an intuition that people have 100% claims over their persons but usually less than 100% claims over external property.
    (It should be clarified that none of these reasons necessitate the conclusion that both sets of rights shouldn't be judicially protected, only that they are different in kind). Thoughts and responses appreciated

  • np||

    Because I'm lazy, I'd suggest Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty:
    http://mises.org/document/1179.....of-Liberty

    audiobook:
    http://mises.org/media/categor.....of-Liberty

    where he goes step-by-step starting from a very fundamental principle, including testing that principle of self-ownership, to show the idea of a singular concept of liberty, as Richman's thesis here, including the idea that property rights are the same as individual rights (or as you state life+liberty).

  • Sevo||

    "Maybe this just boils down to an intuition that people have 100% claims over their persons but usually less than 100% claims over external property."

    I think your intuition misleads you.
    As a practical matter, no modern government grants 100% ownership of either.
    Given the extortionist leaning of governments, the more valuable the life and the more valuable the possessions, the less ownership is 'granted'.

  • Faithkills||

    This argument would require that you can exist without property.

    We may disregard the question of whether you are your own property for this question. Even stipulated you aren't your own property, you cannot exist without property outside your body.

    This is why preceding states are markets. Peoples' first order of business is to create or secure property required to exist.

    Life+Liberty are insufficient to survive. You need property outside of yourself. If you cannot own property, your life+liberty are moot, and will be short lived.

    Property is further not an abstract property. All animals understand property. They defend their territory. It is not an abstract human fiction.

  • Faithkills||

    The question thus isn't whether you can separate life and liberty from property. You can't.

    The question is who should own property?

    You the person who created or found it?

    Or two other guys who come along and outgun you, or else outvote you, and then when you demur, outgun you. Apparently on the assumption that outvoting you first makes the later gun use 'moral'.

    The nonconsequentialist argument is that active predation is immoral.

    The consequentialist argument is that active predation reduces aggregate wealth, prosperity, and destroys the morality of the civil society.

    You'll have to explore those arguments on your own.

  • Adam Schulman||

    Life+liberty require material things to the extent that people have to eat, drink and shelter themselves, but those requirements don't require an enforceable regime of property necessarily. When a deer drinks from a river, does it own that river? I don't believe so?

    And the question of who should own property presents a false dichotomy, and wasn't what I was asking. I would completely agree that if the only two choices are the creator/ founder owning something and someone who took it by force owning something, the former is morally preferable. But, if no one has exclusive use, then no one owns it. A government's failure to protect someone's property doesn't mean that they themselves or anyone else owns it. There can be res without an owner (see Deer above).

    And really my only question was whether life and liberty need be treated the same as property. I'm not persuaded by the above responses, but I appreciate them nonetheless

  • Faithkills||

    If the cost to protect property rights outweigh the value of the property, the property will likely remained unowned.

    But certainly you must enforce your rights to property required to survive. But that doesn't require a state.

    Economically it's is only incidental if ever, rare, and always temporary, that a state can protect rights of any sort at lower cost than non monopolistic means.

    The costs of protecting life and liberty and property must be born. This is the same as saying the costs of protecting your past (property, the fruits of past activity), present (liberty, the freedom to act), and future (continued life) must be born.

    Take away any of these natural rights, and you have none of them.

    If I partially curtail any of them, I have partially curtailed all of them.

    If you are not free to act completely, you are not free to secure property completely, and not free to maximize right to exist in the future. If I kill you, your other rights are rendered moot. If I take your property, you will starve, die from exposure, be victim of predators.

    Simply if I truncate your right to property, I have truncated your life and liberty.

    Or do you think you are somehow 'free' to act and gather food for the morrow if I take it from you you every evening? Or you are free to live if I do the same?

  • Adam Schulman||

    I don't think that the interweaving between the three rights is as neat and tidy as you make it out to be.

    Stealing from someone is not the same as taking their life or their liberty. It is different in kind. Certainly theft of property is an incidental burden on one's rights to life and liberty but that is not the same as a direct infringement. If you take my property, it means I will need to go acquire other means of supporting my life, but it does not mean I will necessarily die or lose my baseline bodily freedoms.

    If I then procure subsistence without acquiring property (eat nuts and berries, drink water from a spring, find natural shelter without claiming it as property), then assuming you do not infringe bodily rights of life and liberty themselves, I will be able to maintain those other rights without property.Then you as the transgressor will have nothing to steal. You might rightfully say that would be a meager existence, but it is more than one would have if they were deprived of life or liberty directly.

  • joy||

    There may be narrower scope for operation of the presumption of constitutionality when legislation appears on its face to be within a specific prohibition of the Constitution, http://www.zonnebrilinnl.com/z.....-3_13.html such as those of the first ten amendments.

  • Sevo||

    Fuck you.

  • Registration At Last!||

    Kinda dumb. We divide and subdivide political rights into categories and subcategories all the time. It's pretty much a necessity for coherent discussion. There are "reproductive rights" and the "right to work" and the "freedom of contract" and "religious freedom" and a bottomless list of others.

    Taxonomy is important. You may have a right to have gay sex. You may have a right to have sex for money. Both may be equally important, but they are different, and you can have one, or the other, or neither, or both, depending on the regime under which you live.

    Even economic freedoms are not one big homogeneous lump. If you want to just buy or sell something for up-front cash, you pretty much just need to be left alone. BUT, if you want to loan money to debtors, you need the government all over your business like white on rice. The government can't just decide to respect a money-lender's "freedom." The government has to decide if, when, and how far it will go to backing up a lender on collection of debts. We used to have debtor's prisons. We still do in some circumstances. Whatever you want to call that, it ain't "leave-me-alone" government. And having people collect their own debts with guns and brass-knucks isn't exactly "leave-me-alone" government, either.

    Politics is complicated, and no one concept, however fully it might capture your imagination (viz,. "self-ownership"), is going to resolve all differences amongst all the participants.

  • Sevo||

    "The government can't just decide to respect a money-lender's "freedom." The government has to decide if, when, and how far it will go to backing up a lender on collection of debts."

    Bzzt! Uh, try again.
    There is nothing that says the government 'backs' debts other than government debt.
    Are you dumb enough to presume so, or were you hoping to slip that bit of bullshit through un-noticed? Are you a fool or a knave?

  • Registration At Last!||

    So, Sevo (in addition to missing the 'reply' button on his click) read "backing up a lender on collection of debts" as "backing debts," as in 'guaranteeing debts,' like the government does for its own issued debt, or for certain student loans, or Solyandra.

    He did not understand this mean backing up collection of debts, as in debt enforcement, or debt collection.

    So, since Sevo obviously tries to be on Team Libertarian or Team Fusionism, who on that side is going to call him out on the depth of his idiocy? Who is going to have a Sister Soulja moment with Sevo?

  • ||

    That is, the Court will simply assume members of Congress had a good reason http://www.ceinturesfr.com/cei.....-c-10.html to regulate some aspect of commerce unless it can be shown otherwise. When it comes to economic activity, there is to be no presumption of liberty as there is in other matters.

  • feelinglaishuling||

    The government has to decide if, when, and how far it will go to backing up a lender on collection of debts. We used to have debtor's prisons. We still do in some circumstances.

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  • some guy||

    If we insist that freedom is indivisible, aren't we then forced to resist all forms of government, even strictly limited "libertarian" governments? I mean, if freedom is indivisible, then how can a society use government to extract taxes from individuals to pay for things like defense?

  • CE||

    It can't. All forms of coercive government involve theft. If you want to pay for defense, get other people to sign up voluntarily to join your association, with terms clearly spelled out, including terms for leaving the association.

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