Economics

Can Mutually Beneficial Exchanges Be Exploitative?

The importance of context-keeping in libertarian thought

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When two people not under duress enter into an exchange for goods or labor services, both must be expecting to benefit or the exchange would not occur. In any such exchange there necessarily exists a double inequality of value. Each trader gives up something to obtain what he or she prefers. Moreover, we have at least prima facie grounds for pronouncing the exchange legitimate since no compulsion is apparent.

This principle of sound economics (and moral theory) is unexceptionable. Indeed, we couldn't make sense of buying and selling were this not the case. Going further, if such were not the case, we could even say we have witnessed an sale (in the praxeological sense); it is something else, perhaps a game or a ritual. This is a matter of logic. The nature of a particular action is determined by the actors' intentions and understanding. What might look to an outsider like an exchange of money for goods or labor services may in fact be a move in a game in which the "money" isn't money at all, but merely pieces of metal. This point was well recognized by, among others, three important Austrians: Mises, Hayek, and Wittgenstein, as nicely brought out by Roderick T. Long in Wittgenstein, Austrian Economics, and the Logic of Action, chapter 3 (pdf).

Careful Application

We must take care, however, in applying the free-exchange principle. Knowing that parties enter into an exchange freely (that is, without being under duress) may be a necessary condition for our pronouncing it legitimate, but it is not a sufficient condition.

For example, you enter a post office and buy a first-class stamp for 45 cents. May we conclude that you prefer the services the stamp will buy to whatever else you might have spent the 45 cents on? If you were not ordered into the post office at gunpoint, I should think so.

Is the transaction therefore legitimate? I should think not—not entirely. Why not? Because your alternatives were artificially constricted by a system supported by violence.

The post office of course is a protected government monopoly. No one may compete with the state in the delivery of first-class mail. (Lysander Spooner and others tried and were stopped.)

Apparently it isn't enough to know that parties to a transaction entered it without duress. There are other criteria that a transaction must satisfy for it to be pronounced entirely legitimate.

Someone might object that transactions with the post office are not really free because someone who wants to mail a first-class letter has no choice but the post office. True enough. Still no one is forced to send a first-class letter. In that sense, no one is forced to do business with the U.S. Postal Service. One chooses to deal with the post office because under the (unjust) circumstances one prefers that option to its alternatives (which may only include not sending the letter at all). Thus one can still be said to be better off because of the transaction.

Privileged Firms

Extending this analysis to private companies with monopolistic government privileges should incite no controversy. If the U.S. government outlawed competition with Federal Express for overnight delivery, the situation would be essentially the same as with the post office. No one would be forced to do business with FedEx. Likewise if government erects explicit or implicit barriers to entry in an industry. Transactions with the protected oligopolistic firms would still be mutually beneficial.

Exchanges therefore with a coercive monopoly are mutually beneficial, though we should be reluctant to call them legitimate. Any coercive monopolist will set its price low enough to produce the desired revenue. No sane monopolist would set a price so high that it would exceed consumers' subjective estimate of the utility of the product. What would be the point? But that means every sale entails a buyer who believes he or she is better off engaging in the transaction despite the lack of alternative sellers.

Thus even with a monopoly, subjective marginal utility plays a role in governing price. As Kevin Carson notes, "[M]onopoly pricing targets the price to the highest amount the consumer is able to pay and still get enough utility to make the exchange worthwhile."

And yet we libertarians don't want to declare the exchanges fully legitimate, do we? The seller is a coercive monopoly or protected firm, after all. (This does not necessarily mean the seller is morally culpable for the situation, though he or she may be.)

Consumer Surplus

The great thing about competitive markets is not that marginal utility sets prices, but that rivalry among sellers drives prices below the level that approximates many people's marginal utility. This produces a consumer surplus. (How far below is governed by producers' subjective opportunity costs, including workers' preference for leisure.) We all have bought things at a price below that which we were prepared to pay. Ralph Hood put it nicely when discussing the falling price of electronic calculators: "[T]echnology allowed the price to drop. Competition made it drop." In a manner of speaking, competition socializes consumer surplus.

On the other hand, in the absence of competition a coercive monopolist is able to charge more than in a freed market, capturing some of the surplus that would have gone to consumers. That's a form of exploitation via government privilege. (Eugen Böhm-Bawerk saw the possibility of similar exploitation of workers by employers sheltered from competition.)

The counterintuitive conclusion, as Carson puts it, is this: "A person can be better off from an exchange, and still be exploited."

We should keep this in mind the next time we're tempted to defend a state of affairs in the corporate state or, say, sweatshops in an authoritarian third-world country. Before we say, "The exchange was voluntary and therefore both mutually beneficial and legitimate," we should make sure the larger context satisfies libertarian standards of legitimacy by asking this empirical question: Did government privilege play a significant role in creating the circumstances in which the exchange takes place?

Sheldon Richman is editor of The Freeman, where this article originally appeared.

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    1. This is apparently over the heads of a lot of people here.

      Maybe post some links to hotties in the Daily Mail.

      1. Hey! I just woke up on the west coast and got it immediately. I thought the Seinfeld reference was perfect, especially since there was no alt-text.

        1. I knew I could count on you otherwise-usually-slow western time zoners.

          1. Oh damn, I overslept again.

            1. What’s the difference between a duck? Feck! Arse! Drink! Girls!

      2. This is apparently over the heads of a lot of people here.

        That’s because we’re blind to their oppression. Hence the bucket.

        1. Then shouldn’t you be wearing the bucket?

          1. Well…move along!

    2. These articles are making me thirsty!!

  1. The use of exploit, which means to achieve or develop, to mean being used wrongly has always driven me nuts. I realized as soon as I became an emancipated adult that the immediate problems I suffered were from being underexploited. I had to figure out how to market myself better to women and employers.

    1. “For example, you enter a post office and buy a first-class stamp for 45 cents. May we conclude that you prefer the services the stamp will buy to whatever else you might have spent the 45 cents on? If you were not ordered into the post office at gunpoint, I should think so.”

      The problem in dealing with the government is that so many people refuse to see the gun. “Nobody put a gun to your head and made you do that” is technically true, but ultimately all laws are backed up by that very threat.

      1. ^^This^^

        It’s not that somebody is holding a gun to your head forcing you into the Post Office. It’s that they’re waiting around in their government building with their guns just waiting to use them when somebody challenges the monopoly on delivering the mail.

        It’s the same gun, Richman. It’s just that the government has it concealed.

        1. No one is forcing you to use the post office or the schools. But they sure as hell are forcing you to pay for them.

          1. They’re forcing you to use the post office if you want to send a First Class letter. Or if you want to correspond with the government offices that only give PO Boxes for their address.

            As far as the schools go, you’re obviously correct. But that’s usually a property tax issue and is dealt with more locally, giving people an opportunity to move districts more readily.

            1. Er, you know how much money the federal government “lends” to the Postal Service? That doesn’t come out of thin air.

              Well, technically it probably does. But you know what I mean.

      2. Even when you explain it some people they still don’t get it. I asked a co-worker if it was voluntary when someone holds a gun to him and asks for his wallet. He said “no”. I then asked him what would happen if I didn’t pay taxes…didn’t get through.

        1. Yeah, but you don’t have a social contract with the would-be robber.

          Totally different. It’s the responsibility of every American to pay taxes. If you don’t like it, then vote for someone else.

          You don’t care about national defense? Or poor people? Or children?

          If you don’t like America, then leave.

          /leftist boilerplate respondent

          1. I wasn’t necessarily thinking of the post office as coercion, I can choose not to use the post office. But in other areas you don’t have a choice and especially in the area of taxes and fees and permits and licenses and so on. Most people will scoff at the idea that the government is putting a gun to your head, if you ask them what happens if you refuse to get the permit or pay the fee and they will say “well, all you have to do is follow the law and everything will be okay”. Much like my saying, “all you have to do is hand over your wallet and you won’t get shot in the head.”

            As I have often said, I don’t mind a bit paying my fair share of taxes but “my fair share” by definition is a mutually agreed upon amount. The day the IRS comes to me and asks me how much I am willing to pay for which services, we can talk about me paying “my fair share”. As long as they just unilaterally decide what amount I pay, no amount is fair because fairness is a matter of procedure, not of results. (But good luck getting that argument past anybody intelligent enough to have read John Rawls but stupid enough to have agreed with him.)

            1. “Fair share” is leftist for “God Hates Fags”. You want a real laugh – try to pin down a whiney leftist on what that fair share actually is (i.e. what percent of the total tax burden).

              CCR had the answer: “they only ask for more, more, more”.

              1. what that fair share actually is

                Well, 99% for the 1%, and 1% for the 99%. Except that wouldn’t pay for a fraction of the shit the govt. is bribing a(n ever growing) subset of voters with, at least not from the 2nd year.

    2. You really need to get over that. Words evolve with usage. Language can’t be frozen. “Exploitation” has had both positive and negative connotations, depending on context, for a very long time.

      1. No, you should stop adopting leftist terminology when it’s applied incorrectly just because you want people phonies like Kevin Carson or whoever to like you.

        Oh, and please stop writing the same fucking article over and over again. We get it, corporatism = bad. Now snap out of the leftard box you’ve got your mind in and look at some of the other ways liberty is being threatened (many of which are FAR worse).

        1. Language is an emergent order. You don’t have the option of banning leftists from the marketplace of words.

          1. Battering the language should be a crime, punishable by an immediate punch to the face.

          2. No, but I don’t have to adopt those terms, and neither should Richman, especially when doing so plays into a class-struggle narrative that’s not only misleading but decidedly anti-liberal at it’s core. Why on earth should you capitulate and give justification to your intellectual opposition that way?

            1. Kpres, I do agree with you on this. One of the important things in language is to preserve the integrity of definition and do best not to allow words to become nebulous “buzzwords”, something both TEAM’s progressives do with reckless abandon. The original meaning is diluted to doublespeak and easily bastardized. Richman doesn’t help his case with his choice of words.

              Explotive is such a word, and is usually taken in vulgar culture as a negative connotation, such as, “Libertarians believe in exploiting people and resources!” The dictionary definition of “developing” certainly applies, but it won’t be taken that way. And don’t bother with the “context” trope either.

              “Advantageous”, Mr. Richman, would have been a much better word choice, unless you were purposefully being provocative with your word choice.

              “He who controls the language controls the argument”

              1. and … not to allow words to become nebulous “buzzwords”
                Like “justice” as used by the left, which bears no resemblance to the real concept. E.g.: reproductive justice. WTF?

              2. It’s very hard to “not allow” words to become meaningless buzzwords when there’s a large group of people who really want them to be.

                1. It’s very hard to “not allow” words to become meaningless buzzwords when there’s a large group of people who really want them to be.

                  True that, Tulpy, true that. Trying to push back and reclaim words in the marketplace of ideas is a task of Sisyphean proportions. I wonder sometimes if it’s even worth it. Some of them seem like, and probably are, doomed, futile engagements and tasks even before attempted.

  2. Is the calculator example supposed to represent a competitive-market ideal?

  3. Is the calculator example supposed to represent a pure (non-exploitative) competitive market?

    1. It’a close, isn’t it? If there is “exploitation” or coercion in the calculator market, it certainly does not exploit anyone too much when you can buy a good calculator for a few bucks and a scientific calculator for $10.

    2. No, but there was competition.

  4. The pot calls the kettle “black,” going on a 3 page tirade about liberal dog whistle phrases, why they’re stupid, and why conservative statism is so much awesomer.

    1. I could find only two places where Goldberg makes even remotely any sort of qualitative claim about conservative thought (or ‘conservative statism’ as you prefer to call it). That would be this: ‘Of course, Republicans are just as guilty as Democrats when it comes to reducing arguments to bumper stickers’ – which is not exactly hypocritical boasting, and this: ‘By the way, conservatives do not believe that the Constitution should not change; they just believe that it should change constitutionally – through the amendment process’.

      I seem to have missed the part where you caught the kettle claiming that ‘conservative statism is so much awesomer’, even after reading it twice. Could you please point it out – I’m game to go back a third time and look at it.

      1. On the idea of a Living Constitution.

        Only we conservatives have a grasp on the Constitution, and war new forms of security is the only reason to think that we can circumvent what it actually says.

        On the liberal idea that “Better 10 guilty men go free than 1 innocent man go to jail.”

        It’s cool that we put innocents in jail because you know, murder, rape and stuff.

        Need I go on?

        One can’t blockquote at all from WaPo, even if no quotation marks are in the text.

        1. On the liberal idea that “Better 10 guilty men go free than 1 innocent man go to jail.”

          That’s not a leftist idea, it’s from centuries of English juridical tradition.

        2. You can’t “go on”, because you didn’t even start. You showed where Goldberg described liberals’ view of the Constitution and the liberal idea of 10 guilty:1 innocent. It would have been pretty difficult for him to discuss the “Top Five Cliches Liberals Use” without, well, describing them first. You showed nothing whatsoever in the article to support your glib claim that he boasted of Conservatives’ “awesomeness” – because, as I pointed out, the article is bereft of such talk. Your deciding that what might well be in his mind about those things is tantamount to their being in the article doesn’t count, I’m afraid.

  5. The War on Women that isn’t.

    When accusations of sexism and racism are all you have, it’s all you’ll use. I haven’t seen a liberal argument that doesn’t stem from claims of one or the other. It’s pretty sad that the best argument liberals have is that *insert conservative here* wants nothing but to set back women’s/minority rights to the 1950s. It’s not even a fall back anymore; it’s the primary go-to talking point, and it reveals plainly the intellectually bankrupt status of the modern liberal.

    Fuck this 50 character word bullshit too. Which I’m pretty sure is being evoked not because of quotations outside of links in the anchor tag. There are no other quotes in my text.

  6. Obama finally makes a smart move, and, for bonus points, enrages child labor groups that know dick about country life.

    Fuck this 50 character problem. I haven’t had a problem until today, now I can’t post a single fucking thing without getting the error. And my copy-pasta doesn’t have any quotes.

    1. It is maddening – and it is going to ultimately drive more good posters off and degrade the enjoyment of reading here even more than registration has done.

      I had the same problem this morning and removing the quotation marks from the cut/paste job didn’t help. I finally had to type the whole thing, quotes and all, in Notepad and then cut and paste that here. This is complete bullshit.

      1. Just about any punctuation can cause this. The most common ones seem to be quotation marks, apostrophes, and hyphens. But I would also be suspicious of question marks and exclamation points.

      2. Some cheese with that whine?

        1. Blow me?

          1. I’ve never understood ^^this^^. If you want to insult someone, why ask if they want to blow you? Yet, people do ti all the time.

            IMI, the correct response would have been: Blow Me!

            /pedantic dick

            1. I’ve never understood ^^this^^. If you want to insult someone, why ask if they want to blow you?

              Yeah, I know; I was wondering that very thing about the “whine?” deal.

              Oh, the answer to your question in this case is “parallel construction”.

              /pedanticer dick (-;

            2. why ask if they want to blow you? Yet, people do ti all the time.

              Not all of us are as prolific as you used to be.

              Also, it depends on whether he said “Blow me?” or “Blow me?”

          2. I’ll leave that to the aging hippies at Burning Man.

    2. It is only smart in the sense that he stopped doing something incredibly stupid. I guess I will make a “smart move” today by not hitting myself with a hammer.

      1. It’s like cutting the budget by changing the amount you plan to spend: making a smart move by ceasing your idiocy.

    3. I just love to see them trot out the “advocates” for child laborers at the Child Labor Coalition or other such places. How about, gee I don’t know, asking the child laborers? Those assholes define smugness: advocating on behalf of people who vehemently disagree with your involvement in their affairs.

      It reminds me of the South Park “Naggers” episode, when Token tells Stan that Jesse Jackson isn’t the king of black people, and Stan tells Token, “he told my father he was.”

      If the GOP were smart, they’d pull a reverse Sandra Fluke and hold hearings on Capitol Hill, pulling every teenage son and daughter of a farmer in to tell how this will destroy 4H and FFA programs in an orchestrated power grab for the DOL. They could also go on to explain that this is one of the only ways they can help support their family due to rising fuel costs, restrictive DOA, DOL and EPA regulatory schemes.

      Nope, the GOP missed a golden opportunity here. They could have ultimately ended up with a “Why does the Obama Administration hate children and farmers?” campaign slogan, but came in their pants, so to speak.

      1. If the GOP were smart, they’d pull a reverse Sandra Fluke and hold hearings on Capitol Hill, pulling every teenage son and daughter of a farmer in to tell how this will destroy 4H and FFA programs in an orchestrated power grab for the DOL.

        They don’t give a shit. We’re just uneducated, unsophisticated hicks who want to exploit children.

  7. More mixed race babies. Because we’re so racist as a society and stuff.

    Frey said the census statistics on children with black and white parents in particular show a country that is advancing toward a day when race loses its power to be a hot-button issue.

    You know, because it’s statistics that causing race to be a hot-button issue rather than disingenuous liberals who levy charges of racism at every opportunity. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for liberals to halt their charges of racism regardless of what the data says.

    1. Well that you don’t because – speaking of breath-holding – that would be like asking them to give up oxygen.

      1. Hey, BHO, Hillary and crew didn’t breathe for like 30-35 minutes when they were watching the OBL murderstrike. So it can be done.*

        *Of course, like Kim Jong Il, our dear leader is a superman that regularly shoots rounds of 120 59 on the golf course and bowls games in the 60’s of 300 over and over. Truly a god-king.

        1. You would think if Hillary could hold her breath for 30 minutes Bill wouldn’t have been looking for alternative services.

          1. But if she was down on him for 30 minutes, then that would be 30 minutes she wouldn’t be able to tell Americans what they should be doing with their lives.

            And to a liberal, that’s a sin worthy of excommunication.

          2. You’d think 30 minutes of continuous deep throat would be a good thing, but Vince Foster indicates otherwise.

  8. The problem with all economic analysis is the tendency to assume that people behave in a rational manner.

    paraphrase of something from CAIN’S LAND by Robert Frezza

  9. http://www.thedailybeast.com/a…..-lead.html

    Interesting article on Obama and the California model. The comments are a giant pile of stupid. I love this gem

    April
    8 Hours Ago
    Has the Beast been overrun with knuckle draggers?

    What a slanted, off the wall view of the Golden State. It sounds more like he is describing those Red States that take all the corporate welfare from successful states like CA and NY.

    1. And anyone has to wonder why CA and NY have the govts they do?

    2. If Kansas had one of the best ports in the world, they’d be successful too.

  10. Looking at the full context of today’s economy, I don’t think any product comes close to to meeting the libertarian standards of legitimacy.

    If you look at just a consumer purchasing a calculator then it’s easy to make a decision on the legitimacy of the exchange. Start from the beginning and consider the whole supply chain though, and it quickly becomes huge mess that even the most informed and conscientious consumers would be hard pressed to sort out. What about the conditions of the labor gathering the raw materials? The tools they use? The transportation of the materials? The construction of the transport vehicles? The fuel they use? The production and transportation of that fuel? The intellectual property rights? etcetera forevera.

    1. Looking at the full context of today’s economy, I don’t think any product comes close to to meeting the libertarian standards of legitimacy.

      I can think of one that does: Farm equipment auctions.

      I know this because it’s my business. The item goes to the highest bidder…period. And the only market capture is what each company captures on its own. There are multiple companies that do it, with varying methods employed. (Some are fixed-site, some are online. Some are strictly as-is/where-is, some have warranties. Some are unreserved, some are reserve auctions.) The commission rates for sellers and buyers are contractually agreed-to by all parties prior to sale. As are the rest of the terms IRT the sale.

      It’s a big reason why I sleep so well at night.

  11. lots of similar discussion on the euvoluntary exchange blog – http://euvoluntaryexchange.blogspot.com/ .

    Calculator prices are a good example of the effect of pricing power; where specific calculators are mandated by regulation, the price stops going down; TI graphing calculators, and the HP-12C are classic examples, though calculators hp chic geek retro have.

    1. I dont see any discussion. No threads with more than 1 comment.

  12. So protected monopolies overcharge for their services. If the post office indeed overcharges because of its monopoly position, why did I just pay it 45 cents to send a birthday card to Aunt Louise when the competing FedEx would have charged just under $17 to deliver the same item in just about the same time?

    They tell me that the post office receives subsidies. Are these subsidies in the neighborhood of $16.55 per letter? Would FedEx charge less if the post office did not exist?

    Help me out a bit here.

    1. You must be one of those who doesn’t pay taxes. Or have a savings account being eaten away by inflation. Also, try shipping large quantities of items and see which is more expensive. I work for a business which does, and we saved tons of money by sending most of our packages through UPS (and DHL for international orders) instead of USPS.

    2. FedEx is prevented from competing in the mail deliver business. They can only deliver “packages”, so it wasnt a competitive situation.

      Didnt you wonder why FedEx wont deliver a standard envelope, but that you have to put it in those bigger dealies? Yeah, the Feds say so.

      And bullshit on it costing $17.

    3. Sheldon points to Lysander Spooner’s paper, but here’s a description of his battle:
      http://www.lysanderspooner.org/STAMP3.htm

  13. The flip side, having a sole buyer (monopsonist) of a good or service, distorts the demand curve in the same way as a monopolist distorts the supply curve. Worst case short of serfdom – the company town. Next worse – the farmer. Sells everything at wholesale, buys everything at retail, pays the shipping both ways.

    1. Next worse – the farmer. Sells everything at wholesale, buys everything at retail, pays the shipping both ways.

      Isnt that true of nearly every producer?

      My new business will be selling (nearly*) everything at wholesale. What is so special about farmers in this regard?

      *even the exceptions for me apply to farmers. They can set up a roadside fruitstand or go to a farmers market and sell at retail.

    2. This also explains why Defense procurement is so routinely bad. First, there is only one buyer – DoD (breaking it into the service components doesn’t change anything). Second, if you supply DoD, you often can’t sell your wares to anyone else. Third, the arcane acquisition rules and bureaucracy.

      I can hardly wait for that model of efficiency to be translated into the provision of all U.S. healthcare. [/sarc]

  14. OT A ‘teachable moment’:

    http://radio.foxnews.com/todds…..teens.html

    The language the officials at this event use to obfuscate a Jason Russell level break down is the best entertainment I have had today.

  15. The elements of commerce are so complex, so mixed and remixed, that drawing the theoretical distinctions the author proposes in real-life applications is well-nigh impossible.

    Naked coercion, subtle coercion and uncoerced choices exist in a web that is tangled beyond all unthreading. That is why sophisticated thinking on public policy tends to focus on pragmatic considerations, not the aery and simplistic “first principles” that dogmatic libertarians can’t stop obsessing on.

    No one questions the baseline presumption in favor of “mutual exchanges.” But no one with an informed opinion thinks that that one presumption resolves all the difficulties of public policy. The pseudo-libertarian GOP Right that is now ceaselessly ranting about “freedom-versus-socialism” are not even part of any authentic intellectual debate. They have “checked out” of high-level discussion and thrown their entire lot in on the brute manipulation of low-information constituencies.

    1. I’m seemingly always arguing in favor of pragmatism on this site, but the truth is that basing policy on principle has pragmatic value in itself. When every policy becomes fair game for tweaking, and principle is totally thrown to the four winds, then you wind up with the “I fuck you today, you fuck me tomorrow” oscillations that are destroying this country today.

      I agree that we shouldn’t privatize the roads, for instance, even though the NAP says we should. The practical problems with such an undertaking are so immense and with such minor potential benefits that it makes no sense to do. But that’s an exception, not a rule. We should favor non-coercion in every policy area except those where it’s absolutely absurd to do so. And those are rare.

  16. Interesting article. I wonder how Sheldon might augment or extend his analysis in consideration of contraband markets, where the duress NOT to engage in the exchange is largely applied by the government, but the sellers can take advantage of it in some cases, and customers in other cases. I’m thinking, for instance, of the prohibition of undocumented presence in the country allowing certain unscrupulous employers here to establish sweatshops, or human slavery conditions. Or drug prohibition, which allows for competition among dealers and producers, but also forces prices up despite competitive dynamics.

    1. I’m thinking, for instance, of the prohibition of undocumented presence in the country allowing certain unscrupulous employers here to establish sweatshops, or human slavery conditions.

      I’m highly skeptical about actual slavery happening; slavery requires a wish to leave, and illegal immigrants have no trouble leaving.

      As for sweatshops, I don’t see how those are incompatible with libertarianism. Unless you’re suggesting that labor restrictions are libertarian, in which case I’d direct you to Balloon Juice.

      1. well, there’s sex slaves, and the threat of reporting can be used as leverage to keep some people as almost-slaves

  17. Sounds like a plan to me dude, WOw.

    http://www.Dodging-CISPA.tk

  18. wowowowowowo really nice and informative kommunikation with us and i hope you carry on with new one i am waiting.

  19. Article mostly agreed upon here, I just need to point out that the you-do-have-a-choice/freedom argument stil does apply to taxes and government as a whole to those of you who insist that the whole thing is coercion, as when Tony is schooling you guys. Yeah the post office is bullshit like the article says for the reasons the article says as is many other government-protected shit, but government as a whole isn’t illegitimate nor is taxes. You do have a choice to leave, and that is enough of a choice, and logically the most amount of choice that can be given; people can’t choose where they’re born and raised.

  20. Sheldon,

    I would point out that most transactions are under the sort of duress that occurs when people need to eat and sleep under shelter. The poor don’t have a choice but to work for to live. Shelter might not be required in all climes, but it is in most, and certainly nobody is obligated to let you sleep on their land.

    Forget the gun to the head of the government for now, it is the knife to the belly which drives.

  21. The link to an earlier article of mind on Bohm-Bawerk is now bad. Use this instead: http://fee.org/articles/austri…..on-theory/

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