There Ought Not to Be a Law

Most people see a world full of problems that can be solved by laws.

I'm a libertarian in part because I see a false choice offered by the political left and right: government control of the economy—or government control of our personal lives.

People on both sides think of themselves as freedom lovers. The left thinks government can lessen income inequality. The right thinks government can make Americans more virtuous. I say we're best off if neither side attempts to advance its agenda via government.

Let both argue about things like drug use and poverty, but let no one be coerced by government unless he steals or attacks someone. Beyond the small amount needed to fund a highly limited government, let no one forcibly take other people's money. When in doubt, leave it out—or rather, leave it to the market and other voluntary institutions.

But this is not how most people think. Most people see a world full of problems that can be solved by laws. They assume it's just the laziness, stupidity or indifference of politicians that keeps them from solving our problems. But government is force—and inefficient.

That's why it's better if government didn't try to address most of life's problems.

People tend to believe that "government can!" When problems arise, they say, "There ought to be a law!"

Even the collapse of the Soviet Union, caused by the appalling results of central planning, didn't shock the world into abandoning big government. Europe began talking about some sort of "market socialism." Politicians in the United States dreamt of a "third way" between capitalism and socialism, and of "managed capitalism"—where politicians often replace the invisible hand.

George W. Bush ran for president promising a "lean" government, but he decided to create a $50 billion per year prescription drug entitlement and build a new bureaucracy called No Child Left Behind. Under Bush, Republicans doubled discretionary spending (the greatest increase since LBJ), expanded the drug war, and hired 90,000 new regulators.

Bush's increases in regulation didn't mollify the media's demand for still more.

Then came Barack Obama and spending big enough to bankrupt all our children. That fueled the tea party and the 2010 elections.

The tea party gave me hope, but I was fooled again. Within months, the new "fiscally conservative" Republicans voted to preserve farm subsidies, vowed to "protect" Medicare and cringed when Romney's future veep choice, Rep. Paul Ryan, proposed his mild deficit plan.

It is unfortunate that the United States, founded partly on libertarian principles, cannot admit that government has gotten too big. East Asian countries embraced markets and flourished. Sweden and Germany liberalized their labor markets and saw their economies improve.

But we keep passing new rules.

The enemy here is human intuition. Amid the dazzling bounty of the marketplace, it's easy to take the benefits of markets for granted. I can go to a foreign country and stick a piece of plastic in the wall, and cash will come out. I can give that same piece of plastic to a stranger who doesn't even speak my language—and he'll rent me a car for a week. When I get home, Visa or MasterCard will send me the accounting—correct to the penny. We take such things for granted.

Government, by contrast, can't even count votes accurately.

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  • sarcasmic||

    firstieth!

  • sarcasmic||

    secondteen!

  • sarcasmic||

    thirdillion!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Many more voters enjoy the benefits of entitlements paid by others (or nobody) than have to deal with the oppressive regulatory environment that stunts growth. There's no turning this around.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    well system collapse usually solves things to most people's satisfaction

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "well system collapse usually solves things to most people's satisfaction"

    As many a Greek will tell you

  • ||

    That is summed up in the conversation I had with a woman from California. She was talking about how repressive Texas blue laws are in comparison with her home state, and concluded that we are less free.

    I began to lecture her on all the economic mess of California, when she just cut me off, and said, "But I have a good job and am not trying to start my own business, why would I care about any of that?"

  • Rich||

    Gotta ask. What did you do then?

    I may have said "Well, not everyone can be a ho."

  • ||

    I just learned my lesson about talking to CA progs and changed the subject.

  • ||

    Remember, according to them, owning a business isn't a "right", therefore it is fair game to suffer under any restrictions that the voters see fit to impose.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I live in CA and all of the people that I've heard say something like that are on the government payroll.

    So he shoulda told her that the government won't be able to employ people without a viable private sector to leech off of.

  • Chupacabra||

    I live in CA and all of the people that I've heard say something like that are, or have been, business executives at large corporations. Many of them are millionaires several times over, and yet they are fiercely anti-free market.

    I have no idea why.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Because they have made their fortunes via graft receiving and gentle ball fondling of politicians.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    Hahahahaha,

    And they call libertarians selfish. Typical liberal "me" philosophy (oh, and a little for him because he makes ME sad)

  • R C Dean||

    So basically, she said:

    "I've got mine, screw everybody else."

    And these people just lurv them some moral high horse.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    On the other hand, Gojira seems to basically be arguing that Texas's blue laws are okay as long as their is a permissive business environment. Other than having different specific priorities, are he and the lady really any different? They both seem to think "well, I'm free to do the things I want to do, so who cares how other people are being coerced?"

  • Randian||

    I think you need to relearn how to read, because Gojira argued no such thing.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Then why does he consider a lecture on California's economic situation a valid response to a complaint about intrusive social laws in Texas?

  • ||

    You need some lessons in reading comprehension.

  • Fluffy||

    Because they were talking about whether Texas or California were less free?

    To make the comparison, you have to talk about the totality of the legal landscape.

  • ||

    Oh not at all. I'm saying she doesn't recognize different types of oppression. I'm not in favor of any blue laws in any form.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    They're not OK, but as between not being able to buy tequila one day a week and having business-crushing regulation seven days a week, it's not a tough choice.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Esactly, the wealth of a viable economy provides a lot of freedom itself.

  • ||

    You are incredibly stupid. Were you born incredibly stupid, or did you have to work at it?

  • ||

    So basically, she said:

    "I've got mine, screw everybody else."

    What she fails to realize is by screwing everybody else, she is slitting her own throat.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    one day my friend....viva la revolution

  • Hyperion||

    If she works for a private company, she doesn't see a correlation there?

  • FAILtastic||

    I believe thats called cognitive dissonance.

  • ||

    I think the Nazies and Stalin really did the world a disservice (beyond the obvious, I mean).

    People now tend to think of oppression solely in terms of death camps, secret police, mass starvation, etc.

    They don't see economic oppression as oppression at all, because it isn't as obvious as a physical boot actually stomping on your neck. And so a sort of quasi-fascist corporatism slowly, ever so slowly, takes hold in all areas of life.

    "The slow blade penetrates the shield."

  • Bee Tagger||

    Headline on Drudge:

    Gojira, Holocaust a mere "disservice"

  • Hyperion||

    People now tend to think of oppression solely in terms of death camps, secret police, mass starvation, etc

    Because they don't realize that the oppressors have to start from the 20 yard line.

  • ||

    I think a lot of people honestly believe, "Well, I can criticize Bush/Obama and I don't disappear into a concentration camp, therefore, I am not oppressed."

  • Killazontherun||

    Pussy Riot Bassist: I wont be free until I can scream 'Putin is an asshole!'

    Californian: Putin is an asshole! See, I am already free.

    PRB: Then say, 'Obama is an asshole!'

    Californian: Racist!

  • ||

    ^winner

  • Killazontherun||

    Thnx. It took me about five minutes to rework that old Cold war joke into a modern context, but it worked.

    American: I'm free because I can say, 'Truman is a fink' and no one will lock me in jail.

    Russian: Meh. I can even go into the middle of Red Square and yell, 'Truman is a fink' and nothing will happen to me.

  • Hyperion||

    This. I have been saying exactly that for a while. Once there are more voters totally dependant on government assistance, we are fucked. We are almost there. If Obamney gets elected, it is all over.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you add up people on direct assistance, government employees, and then add in contractors and others who are dependent upon government, we're already there.

  • Brutus||

    Yeah, I think we're at the 50% tipping point, or possibly beyond it when you include the bureaucracy's functionaries along with its beneficiaries. Add in the ideological boosters and you have yourself a positive feedback loop. And the one consistent feature of positive feedback loops is that they end up destroying themselves.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Most of the government contractors I know are pretty libertarian leaning. Nothing makes you hate sausage like seeing it get made.

  • sarcasmic||

    Are they so libertarian leaning that they would have their job be cut out from under them to reduce government spending?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I'd say most of them are resigned to it.

  • Hyperion||

    I won't work for the government, period. I despise them that much and I will not be a part of the problem. No matter how much more the benefits and wage, I just will not go there. Plus I am sure that I would see and have to do things that would be too much to endure. Just reading about the shit here pisses me off enough, I can't imagine being part of it.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Do you refuse to keep your money in a bank because they were all bailed out by TARP? Do you refuse to drive a car because they're all locating their plants based on who offers the best subisidies?

    The labor market's been distorted by the government, and that's going to be the case whether I work as a contractor or not. In the meantime, my goal is to sell my skills for as much as possible.

    I have my preferences for the rules the game should be played under, but I've been overruled. That being the case I'm going to play as best I can under the rules as it exists until they change.

  • Hyperion||

    Oh fuck you. It's because of assholes like you, that things will only change for the worse. Yeah, I'm just going to play along until things change. Dummy.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I vote libertarian as much as possible and for small government candidates when not. This hasn't done anything to restrain the government. My quitting is not going to change that, and I'm not particularly interested in making my life less pleasant than it could be to atone for the sins of politicians I didn't vote for to begin with like some sort of libertarian-Jesus.

  • ||

    I actually agree with Stormy Dragon on this one. I work for a civil engineering firm, and most of our clients are government contractors. The fact of the matter is that the labor market is extremely distorted. If we became a more libertarian society, I would probably have to look for work elsewhere, but that won't stop me from voting libertarian. It simply means that market forces will force myself and everyone else to devote their time to more efficient uses. Market distortions left me with not many other options than to ride the gravy train like everyone else, simply taking the path of least resistance.

  • Proprietist||

    I, for one, use a bank that didn't take or need TARP money.

  • FAILtastic||

    Think what you want. Soon enough we'll all be working for the government.

  • Enough About Palin||

    "I won't work for the government, period"

    If you pay taxes, then you already are.

  • Anomalous||

    "If you pay taxes, then you already are."

    For nearly half the year.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Once there are more voters totally dependant on government assistance, we are fucked. We are almost there. If Obamney gets elected, it is all over.

    But as a good libertarian you must maintain you ideological innocence by casting a symbolic vote for Team Orange.

  • Hyperion||

    Team orange it is! GJ has my support, and you?

  • The Hammer||

    Were you too busy with your TEAM RED cheerleading to actually read what you copied? "Obamney" is a common portmanteau for "Obama or Romney." So yes, he was saying as a good libertarian, or a rational voter, you should vote for someone other than Obama OR Romney. Because Romney will be no different.

  • Hyperion||

    This

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    A lot of question begging going on there.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    but if there's even a chance that I can get other people's money, even at the cost to my own aggragate welfare, why can't I do it?

    people live by comparison and no matter how well off someone is, if someone else has something newer and bigger and fancier, there is always a segment of society that can't stand that and will demand it in the name of equality and fairness. and government is always a good tool to use to do that.

  • Hyperion||

    This is what makes progs so stupid and dangerous. They somehow think it would be a better situation if all of us stood in soup lines and shared one refrigerator per city block, than for me to have a newer or more upscale car than theirs. They really are that stupid.

  • sarcasmic||

    They would rather everyone be equally poor than have wealth inequality.

    It is better to be dirt poor with no one to envy than to have a high standard of living but have someone with a higher standard of living to envy.

    Remember, it's all about feelings.

    It's not so much that they are stupid, it's that they don't think. They emote.

  • Rich||

  • Rich||

    Thinking is *hard*.

    (And so is typing.)

    /Prog Barbie

  • Hyperion||

    They are stupid. They emote, yes, they are also stupid.

    One of the things that really pisses me off about progs, is that they THINK that they are so smart. They always acccuse Republicans of being anti science and a bunch of stupid redneck mouth breathers. They also cannot differentiate Libertarians from Republicans. They only perceieve us as being the really, really bad far right extremist Republicans.

    One of the main tenets of my philosophy on the human condition is that the human condition will only be improved through technology. It has always been that, and it's not going to change. So if progs are so fucking smart, why do they see the solution to everything as more laws and regulations, and not science? Even when the new laws and regulations will greatly diminish new technologies that can help us overcome any scarcities and let everyone be way more prosperous. Why is that? Because they are not as smart as they think they are, they are a bunch of whiny ass short sighted malcontents.

  • sarcasmic||

    I have been able to persuade progressives to think, only to have them emote the same bullshit a few days later.

    They care more about being accepted and on the winning team than about being right, to the point where they're willing to support things that they know to be wrong because it results in a feeling of social acceptance.

    It's all about feelings and the lizard brain.

    I don't consider them all to be stupid. Some are, but not all. Many have perfectly functional brains.
    They just choose to only use the most basic animal parts of it.

  • Lord Humungus||

    that what peeves me off about one of my best friends. Back in our younger days, we were both "anti-system" but leaning somewhat left. I somehow went right... and then towards libertarian. He went more left. I imagine half of it has to do with his current residence (Austin, TX) and friends (the old Burning Man crew).

    But I thought better of him since he always seemed like such a free thinker.

  • oncogenesis||

    One of the main tenets of my philosophy on the human condition is that the human condition will only be improved through technology.

    The Progressives of the early 20th century took a similar tack. We can only look on their works and despair.

    As a libertarian, I believe that the human condition will only be improved when every person is truly responsible for their own choices and actions.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The Progressives of the early 20th century took a similar tack. We can only look on their works and despair.

    Uh no, 20th century progressives were the exact opposite. They believed there was no such thing as human nature and that man would conform to whatever society he was placed in, leaving them free to change things to match their whims.

  • oncogenesis||

    I was referring to this line of thought:

    The reformers of the Progressive Era advocated the Efficiency Movement whose adherents argued that all aspects of the economy, society and government were riddled with waste and inefficiency. For them, everything would be better if experts identified the problems and fixed them.. Progressivism meant expertise, and the use of science, engineering, technology and the new social sciences to identify the nation’s problems, and identify ways to eliminate waste and inefficiency and to promote modernization.

  • RickC||

    And to my libertarian coated tin ear that sounds a lot like the current "not smaller but more efficient government" argument I hear from modern progs, like Tony here for instance. I swear the Progs haven't had presented a new idea in almost 80 years.

  • Killazontherun||

    That idea you have that success should rewarded. You didn't instill that!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It is better to be dirt poor with no one to envy than to have a high standard of living but have someone with a higher standard of living to envy.

    And the ironic thing about that is that envy is eternal. Everybody can be living in mud huts or prison compounds and some people are going to envy their neighbors.

  • Christina||

    I belive that was the exact premise of The Gods Must Be Crazy.

  • Enough About Palin||

    The first half of that film was brilliant.

  • RickC||

    I'm not religious but I've come to think that envy might be the mortal sin of mortal sins. Most of the other seven spring from envy.

  • Rich||

    "A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in."

    Mencken rocks.

  • BigT||

    Mencken's genius is timeless.

  • Hyperion||

    Without big government, our possibilities are limitless.

    You don't need to convince us of that, Stossel, it's the SoCons and progressives that you have to convince. Good luck, in the latter case it's just a lost cause since their entire ideaology falls down without a huge centralized government.

    Most peoples problem is that they are just busy bodies who are more concerned about what someone else is doing than they are about their own personal freedoms. They want everyone to conform to their idea about the way things should be, and since they have no power themselves to force you to do anything, they want the government to force you. They just are not smart enough to realize that when government gets that much power, that they are not going to get what they want, which is for government to enforce their vision upon everyone else, but instead they are going to wind up being oppressed themselves along with all the others.

  • Hyperion||

    Progressives are all little mini dictator wannabes who are often lacking in self esteem to the point of self loathing. They see the government as an extension of themselves that will make them equal with all those evil people who have more than they do, and who do not agree with them about everything. That is all they are, there is nothing else behind the movement. It is vile self centered and delusional ideaology. We have to remove these psychopaths from every level of power or they will destroy everything that is good. They are already well on their way to doing just that.

  • RickC||

    Ever wondered about the correlation between personality types and political persuasion? I'm aware of several books on the subject but most leave me with more questions than answers.

    It does seem to me however that almost every person I've known who required external validation always leaned Progressive. Envy also played a huge role in their take on life.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Stossel's writing for a wider audience than just Hit y Run.

  • Hyperion||

    I know that. I have seen him on Fox.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Hyperion,

    I know that. I have seen him on Fox.

    His articles are also published in Townhall.com before they're published here. You should see some of the comments from the SoCons. Some of them even denied that conservatives wanted men to be virtuous through laws. What a crock: I pointed out the existence of Prohibition laws against gambling, prostitution and drugs, and one of them told me "well, those things are dangerous to society, but banning them does not mean conservatives want virtuosity!"

    I called the blasphemer's bluff by saying: "If you do not give the chance to a man to reject sin, how can he become virtuous?"

    No reply.

  • Fluffy||

    I think that even going beyond the obvious "Hey let's steal!" element involved in backing Big Government, you have to think about the way most people left to their own devices go about fixing problems.

    The average person sees something broken and puts some duct tape on it. And they keep doing that until they are standing in a forest of duct tape and can no longer see the original object(s).

    Whenever that type of person sees anything that upsets them, they think, "Pass a law! Write a regulation! Make this go away!" And they do that one item at a time, never noticing the incredible forest of duct tape they have created, and not really perceiving it as a problem.

  • Rich||

    That's pretty good, Fluffy.

    Further, note that the only thing duct tape sticks to is itself.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Further, note that the only thing duct tape sticks to is itself."

    Blink

  • ||

    A good analogy, Fluffy. As a software developer, I can tell you that it's much harder to rip something apart and reconstruct it the right way than it is to patch it so it staggers on, working just well enough. And most programmers are lazy pieces of shit who just do the latter and go back to goldbricking. Just like most people.

    Complete overhauls of systems, whether software or legal, frighten people.

  • Hyperion||

    I spent about the first 2 years of my current gig totally rewriting a fairly large piece of software. I just couldn't work with it and went with a gradual total rewrite. The initial developer was obviously a smart guy, he had written tons of classes for the project. The problem is that he took not following best coding practices to an entire new low. He had dozens of stored procedures that would return entire record sets which he would then loop through and do stupid shit that was totally unnecessary. Trying to debug the code would make you go mad.

  • Hyperion||

    Not to mention that his presentation layer skills were horrific. He had all kinds of controls absolutely positioned on the screens and didn't seem to have a clue about CSS, lol. It was a nightmare.

  • ||

    Sounds like he had no idea how inheritance and polymorphism work. Proper design and use of OOP concepts can drastically reduce number of classes.

  • Hyperion||

    This also, Epi. He had WAY too many classes, and some of them did pretty much exactly the same thing. But it was his SQL and web form layout skills that were comical.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Every software developer I've ever known, including me, wanted to rip everything apart and do it the right way. Almost every manager said the equivalent of, "Just keep it working, storing money as text isn't so bad."

  • Tim||

    Unfortunately we are increasingly a nation of seniors, people who are easily frightened and manipulated, obsessed with their deteriorating health and opposed to change.

  • Hyperion||

    It seems to me that nearly the entire lot of people who were born during the 30s and 40s are entirely bat shit crazy. With all the bad stuff going on then, the depression, WW2, I think they were just traumatized way beyond reason and that it has stayed with them all of their lives. I have a little more hope for my generation since it seems to include some open minded folks and even some Libertarians. Maybe once this current lot of seniors die off, then things will improve. Of course, we will still have the bat shit crazy hippies from the Vietnam war era to deal with...

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Yes, your generation is sane and much smarter and sane than any other. LMFAO

  • CampingInYourPark||

    nix some of that sanity

  • Hyperion||

    I wasn't saying that. I was just making a point that there seems to be an unusual amount of craziness from the generation that I was referring to. But whatever.

  • BigT||

    Alzheimer's hasn't taken its toll on us Boomers ... yet.

  • BigT||

    Alzheimer's hasn't taken its toll on us Boomers ... yet.

  • BigT||

    Alzheimer's hasn't taken its toll on us Boomers ... yet.

  • BigT||

    Alzheimer's hasn't taken its toll on us Boomers ... yet. (!!)

  • Enough About Palin||

    Or maybe it has?

  • FAILtastic||

    Hyperion is onto something here. Boomers in particular have had such a profound influence in shaping policy in the latter half of the 20th century and now into the 21st (whether through direct involvement or simply by being pandered to), and I have a hunch that once they mostly die off, things will start to change and voters may even have a different outlook on government and it's scope. But I've been wrong before...like, every time.

  • Fluffy||

    http://www.wjla.com/articles/2.....78851.html

    Another reason to celebrate the death of gun control

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    I've been kicking around the idea that the problems of democracy are due to the tragedy of the commons. I can make the case for tax money. Once the money goes into a pot everyone tries to take as much as they can through their representatives creating a deficit. I'm having problems applying this to the creation of (bad) laws and regulations in general. Any ideas?

  • sarcasmic||

    Everything comes down to incentives.
    I don't mean false incentives like tax laws that benefit purchasing product A over product B, but real incentives like profit and loss.

    As it is, there is no incentive to get rid of bad laws.

    None at all.

    There is incentive to create bad laws, because it gives the appearance of doing something, but no incentive to get rid of them.

    And that's the problem. The logical conclusion of reacting to bad laws with more bad laws is a totalitarian state with laws governing every activity under the sun.

  • Lord Rae||

    Definitely on to something. The one way ratchet of law after law after law just keeps increasing and never gets reset. It has put so much stress on everything and everyone that almost no one can do anything anymore without breaking some kind of law or ignoring some kind of regulation.

  • Hyperion||

    Bad laws. MmmKay. I think I have 4 words that can sum up the cause of most bad laws created during the last couple of decades:

    It's for the children.

    Sorry, I didn't answer your question, but that just immediately popped up. But I think that a lot of the bad laws are based on planned cronyism to steal back part of the stolen money. WOD, privatized prison systems, mandatory drug testing, to name a couple...

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Hyperion,
    I am trying to go a little deeper than that to, as sarcasmic says, find out what exactly the incentives are. But the for the children argument is one thing that drives me nuts. Every time I hear that I look to my wallet or my rights as that is the calling card of someone trying to take those away. You don't protect the children by infantilizing the adults.

  • ||

    find out what exactly the incentives are

    One aspect is "arms race". As long as laws passed to bring about change in society (which is the most prevalent kind of laws passed nowadays), everybody will clamor to get those laws passed which (supposedly) brings about the change preferred by them. Thus both (or all) sides wield the lawmaking hatchet with abandon to out-legislate the other (or all other) sides.

  • Hyperion||

    Sure you do, in the minds of corruptocrats. You know, like allowing adult children to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26? Adult children, Gawd I hate that term. Pretty soon they will be children at 40. Or in the case of progs, children forever.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Everybody is someone's child.

    And were all Dear Leader's kids.

  • Enough About Palin||

    It'll never stop. Not one bit, regardless of which generations die off.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0255819/

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Dr. Frankenstein,

    I've been kicking around the idea that the problems of democracy are due to the tragedy of the commons.

    Public Choice Theory

    It is not so much a tragedy of the commons situation (where people try to use the resources as quickly as possible first), rather being a case of hiding costs by socializing them. People do not realize the true cost of policy until it is virtually too late, as everybody's situation is made worse off more or less at the same rate.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Old Mex,
    Both of these concepts deal with concentrated benefits and dispersed costs in their own way. I think this is what I was looking for, Thanks.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Part of the problem is that humans did not evolve in a modern media environment.

    The problems that we dealt with were immediate and personal, fear was driven by events that individuals and directly experienced.

    Today, modern media brings any number of distant problems directly into our homes. Education has conditioned us into trusting experts over our own experience. Media brings an unlimited parade of 'experts' into our homes warning of impending catastrophe and citing events that are totally outside of our own experience as evidence.

    In many people, the net result is a feeling of helplessness and constant fear, a form of infantilism.

    As little children naturally look to their parents for protection and sustenance the infantilized progressive looks to government.

  • toddb||

    “Democracy, as a political scheme, may be defined as a device for releasing this hatred born of envy, and for giving it the force and dignity of law…The whole criminal law in America thus acquires a flavour of fraud. It is constantly embellished and reinforced by fanatics who have discovered how easy it is to hurl missiles at their enemies and opponents from behind ranks of policemen…(democratic government) becomes a government of men, not of laws. Its favourites are, to all intents and purposes, immune to criminal processes, whatever their offenses, and its enemies are exposed to espionage and persecution of the most aggravated sort.”
    -H.L. Mencken

  • BigT||

    Mencken - as fresh as if it were written today!

  • RickC||

    Bookend this with Bastiat's The Law and what else is there to say.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I think another problem is that many statists are infected with the idea that man is "perfectable" and thus the perfect world can be created if people would just stop resisting.

    The problem I have with most of the people who speak of a "global village" is
    that they fashion themselves the mayor.
    --Butler Shaffer

  • sarcasmic||

    If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?
    -Bastiat
  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    One of my favorite Bastiat quotes.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Enjoy Every Sandwich,

    One of my favorite Bastiat quotes.

    Bastiat was a genius, a clear thinker unemcumbered by pedestrian prejudices and chauvinistic pedantry. He changed my world when I discovered him. It's a shame that the country that saw him being born is not today the country he envisioned, but I am sure he would be happy to know how many lives his ideas touched and changed, for the better.

  • ||

    The common refrain that I hear when I bring that up is that the wisdom of the masses compensates for any individual bad actors.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Cause fads and bubbles never happen.

  • BigT||

    Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
    H. L. Mencken

  • RickC||

    Should have read down thread a little before my post above! Great minds . . .

  • ||

    It always seems like Stossel articles are of the "preaching to the choir" variety. Are these published anywhere else? Like places where people who don't grok libertarianism might be reading?

  • sarcasmic||

    Fox Business Network.

  • ||

    People read a TV network?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Most of the TV networks have these new-fangled things called web sites now also.

  • Lord Humungus||

    please tell us more about these "websites."

  • Enough About Palin||

    "People read a TV network?"

    I read the scrolling text, so yeah.

  • Old Mexican||

    The left thinks government can lessen income inequality. The right thinks government can make Americans more virtuous.

    Actually, Stossel, both the socialist left and the socialist right (the "conservatives") base their arguments on the exact same thing: That government action can make man (a fallen creature) into a virtuous creature. BOTH positions start from the idea that man can be pefected through the power of the State. BOTH the left and the right argue for worldy ills to be erradicated through violent action.

    Both positions have different opinions on what sins are more expedient, but both want the same goal and both rely on the exact same methods: collective action, imposition of rules from a higher power. Both are blasphemous poisitions if one believes in a God, or simply authoritarian and intolerant if one does not.

  • oncogenesis||

    +57

  • Mr. FIFY||

    If you have any animosity towards government, you deserve to be put on an anti-terrorist shit-list.

    Like ours, for instance.

    /Southern Poverty Law Center

  • 'Seventy Times American'||

    More laws that magically equal a better society is obviously dellusional thinking. See my book 'Seventy Times American,' or the website www.uprightusa.org for more information about the consequences of too many confusing laws from an engineers perspective. People end up just getting used and abused.

  • misjoyo||

    Lo bueno de su información es que es bastante explícito para que los estudiantes de entender sac à main de marque pas cher. Gracias por sus esfuerzos en la difusión del conocimiento académico.

  • ||

    and he'll rent me a car for a week. When I-http://www.airmaxsalle.com/ get home, Visa or MasterCard will send me the accounting—correct to the penny. We take such things for granted.

  • Ardelle||

    Europe began talking about some sort of "market socialism." Politicians in the United States dreamt of a "third way" between capitalism and socialism, and of "managed capitalism"—where politicians often replace the invisible hand.

  • grey||

    This seemed like as good an article as any to place my question. I've been evolving into more libertarian views, less hawkish/smaller close to home military, most government programs we can live without; we are over regulated, over taxed, and over watched by the government. And yet there is a safety net issue that I can't get my head around: Medicaid. On a charitable basis (time and other), I've dealt with both Medicaid recipients (in my case the permanently disabled needing full time and lifetime care) and the industry and charity that take care of them. Those most in need also happen to have the smallest voices. I see government entitlements expanded to more and more groups and yet those in most need get the leftovers of a broken program. We are doing a lot with charity, generosity is amazing, but charity as the only final safety net for the helpless isn't enough.
    My question: Where in a libertarian philosophy does a government safety net caring for this segment fit? I understand it wouldn't be efficient, but it can also fill a role the private sector and charity don’t. My heart and mind are twisted like a pretzel. If we had less government everywhere else, could we then give back to ourselves platinum plated care truly helpless? I don't see much of a moral hazard, I know families my abdicate care, but nobody is going to ask to be permanently mentally disabled and held in a long term care facility.

  • ||

    The people least likely to cause problems are also the ones most likely to obey (or at least try to obey) all laws. And vice-versa. Adding more laws doesn't have any effect on the people who don't respect anything or anyone, and they're the ones causing most of the trouble in life.

  • Fredda Cusack||

    It is unfortunate that the United States, founded partly on libertarian principles, cannot admit that government has gotten too big. East Asian countries embraced markets and flourished. Sweden and Germany liberalized their labor markets and saw their economies improve.

  • MamaLiberty||

    "Beyond the small amount needed to fund a highly limited government, let no one forcibly take other people's money. "

    John... theft, coercion and fraud are clearly wrong. Unfortunately, the involuntary government has no other tools with which to perform even those things some people find so "needed."

    So, what amount of theft, coercion and fraud do you think is acceptable for this "limited government?"

    The 64 thousand dollar question would then be: Who defines that "limit" - and who enforces it? Do we designate certain people or businesses as expendable victims? That's pretty much already the case, of course. Is that truly the way to go with this?

    No, since theft, coercion and fraud are evil and wrong, they are evil and wrong no matter who does them or for what reason. You can't have it both ways.

  • numnumnum||

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