Free to Choose What?


Econoblogger Bryan Caplan, an econ professor at George Mason University (and a participant, along with Milton Friedman and Ron Paul, among others, in our scintillating interview roundtable on the changing of the guard this year at the Federal Reserve in our November issue, already in the hands of subscribers, and why aren't you one?) asks his readers: What currently illegal thing do you personally really want to be free to do? 111 responses so far, revealing a surging sea of lawless willfullness barely held back by the bulwarks of civilization.

NEXT: 45,000 in Prison for Pot

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  1. Being free to choose something and actually choosing it are two different things, but I’ve already posted on another blog site that I might participate if they had a Naturist Day on the new Fountain Square here in Sinincincinnati.

  2. I would like to be able to:

    – Smoke pot (mainly out of curiosity)
    – Hire a prostitute (ditto)
    – Buy antidepressants over the counter
    – Build a barn on my property
    – Own a Taser
    – Be able to fire a lousy employee without first building up a massive dossier of incompetence
    – Be able to tell the truth about said employee when a prospective employer calls me as a reference

  3. I wouldn’t use that list of comments if I was trying to recruit new libertarians.

  4. differentphil,

    Come on, people love barns. They sell calendars full or pictures of ’em!

  5. I would like to be able to walk into a sporting goods store and pay cash for a sound suppressor for a rifle or pistol, no different than a scope, bipod, sling, or any other firearm accessory.

    That’s in my ideal world.

    In the real world, I would be tickled pink and giggly if they simply moved sound suppressors from being regulated as NFA Title II items (FBI background check, $200 tax, registration with the feds and the typical beauracratic hassle of waiting several months for approval) to being Title I, which would put them under the same rules as purchasing a handgun- Instant check, fill out a form 4473 which is kept on record with the gun dealer.

    The original laws making the process of acquiring a suppressor were passed in 1934, decades before any research or knowledge about cumulative hearing damage.

    On top of that, many shooting ranges are finding that as cities expand, they are no longer in rural and isolated areas, and the sound of gunfire can be irritating to those who move there. It seems to me that de-regulating suppressor possession would allow people the option of doing the neighborly thing by helping to reduce levels of noise pollution.

  6. I’d settle for a pistol gripped rifle.

  7. I’d like not to have to deal with governments: taxes, zoning restrictions, the highway patrol, wars… the whole works.

  8. I would like to be able to buy medicines and drugs whenever I wanted to, without a prescription from a “licenced” doctor (“licence” meaning a Letter of Marque from the government)

  9. Oh, and Ruthless, after reading your comment, I threw up in my mouth a little.

  10. Freedom would also mean being able to drive and use my car without the government’s permission (via a “licence”, which I do not need, or licence plates, which are part of the State’s protection racket)

    Freedom would mean practicing any profession and serving my customers without having to receive a licence from the government -again, a Letter of Marque. I know that licencing is like unionizing – it provides ME with less competition but hurts the customer in return.

    Freedom would mean, for me, not having my property confiscated little by little by the State, supposedly to pay for schools that I do not use.

    Freedom would mean, for me, being able to buy stuff from overseas without the State’s prying eyes, or paying for exorbitant tariffs meant to “protect” local industry (i.e. to protect it from consumers’ choice)

    Freedom would mean, for me, using my land as I see fit, without some government agency putting me in shackles just because I could be hurting some rare bird or bug…

  11. I’m doing something illegal this week- I’m having windows changed on my house, which, get this- legally requires a permit! Har! Like I’m going to go through that crap to put in a few vinyl windows.

  12. I agree that “prescription” drugs should be as easily available here as they are in Mexico. But a lot of the illegal things that are fun to do are fun precisely because they ARE illegal. I would prefer a less humorless state that knew when to slap a wrist rather than stalk you for the rest of your life with shrill moral superiority.

  13. Sell homebrew in my friend’s pub.

    Distill alcohol. Some batches aren’t fit to drink, but it pains me to pour them down the drain.

    Buy (and make) fireworks and explosives.

    Buy a less crash-resilient vehicle. I’m looking into converting a car to electric, and curb weights are killing me.

  14. I want to sell deep fried goose liver on a stick.

  15. Start any business I want without having to get permits, licenses, etc.

  16. Buy a car directly from the manufacturer.

  17. Smoke wherever the business owner tells me it’s OK to do so. (uhh, not that I am still smoking or anything…)

  18. Secede.

  19. 1. Talk about a candidate less than 60 days before an election.

    2. Open a bank account w/o having the feds notified.

    3. Tell the government to bugger off when they offer me ‘fair market value’ for my property.

    4. Buy cough medicine w/o having my name go on a government list.

    5. Conduct any number of financial transactions with private entities w/o having to provide my social security #. (although I admit this is arguably not a ‘legal’ issue, per se.

    6. Not pay 1/2 a dozen taxes which are immoral (not detailed here).

    There are so many more…

  20. I would like to be able to legally:

    1) Buy alcoholic beverages from my local supermarket between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

    This is when alcoholic beverages are needed most!

    2) Grill food on the deck that is adjacent to my apartment.

    Recently my apartment complex distributed flyers “reminding” all residents that a local ordinance forbids using an outdoor grill or barbecue pit within 10 feet of a building. In practice, at my apartment complex that means you’d have to go set up your grill in a parking space in the parking lot. Obviously, this is needed to prevent someone from accidentally setting our brick apartment buildings on fire.

    (Actually, in practice, everyone ignores this law.)

  21. I want to:

    * Not have to pay massive amounts of my income in taxes.
    * Not be legally required to have car insurance.
    * Buy medication without a prescription.

  22. Oh and I also want:

    * Not have to worry and plan around the constant depreciation of my hard earned money due to government caused inflation.

  23. Travel by plane without presenting ID. Heck, it’s at least a misdemenor not to present ID to police on the street when asked. (I never carry my driver’s license unless I’m driving)

  24. I would like to ride my motorcycle in the desert.

    I would like to build a house without permission.

    There is this really cute little sixteen year old next door…

  25. I would like to be able sell and buy organs. Is it too much to ask that I might be granted full ownership of my body?

  26. Let my teen-aged offspring have a beer with dinner.

    Drive 80 mph on a well-maintained highway under clear weather conditions without worrying about whether I’ll get a ticket.

    Buy beer, wine, or liquor at the grocery store at whatever time and on whatever day the store is open.

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