This look voluntary to you?

Is it just me or do libertarians' favorite words get hijacked more often than others?

Witness the evolution (devolution?) of terms like "liberal" and "public" (some "classical" liberals keep hoping everyone will ditch the term "public school" in favor of "government school").

Sadly, another libertarian fave, "voluntary," has been taking a beating.

Used to be that we were all on the same page with what "voluntary" meant, but then came the redefiners: New urbanists insisting that property owners who got out of the way of bulldozers dispatched via eminent domain were choosing to move "voluntarily;" Harry Reid (above) claiming paying taxes is "voluntary," and now an Ag secretary suggesting that country-of-origin labels are "voluntary."

Cafe Hayek's Don Boudreaux explains in this letter to CBS Radio:

18 February 2009

Editor, CBS Radio World News Roundup

Dear Editor:


You reported in today's 9 a.m. edition that the Department of Agriculture proposes to have meat processors put country-of-origin labels on their products. In this report you note that "Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said that the program is voluntary, but could become mandatory if meat processors don't comply."

It's clear that if Mr. Vilsack were an armed robber he'd assure persons looking down the barrel of his gun that he seeks only voluntary compliance with his requests that they hand over their money and jewels - but also that he'll shoot those persons who reject his requests.

Thanks to Kerry for the tip.


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