It used to be a cliche to observe that libertarianism is neither left nor right. I don’t hear that much anymore, so it needs to be restated. Mostly it needs to be understood. Left and right emerged in the 19th century as a revolt against liberalism. They each favored different forms of statism to push back against the progress liberty was making possible. It remains the same today.
Yes, I’m suggesting a series of dramatic changes to the way employment works. No more payroll tax. No more withholding. No more health-care mandates. No more mandates of any kind. And no more policing of either hiring or firing by the state. In other words, free the market. Economic exchange is about equal power between negotiators, which only means that the same rules should apply to everyone. The more we mess with the freedom of contract, the more we privilege one party over another, with sometimes unpredictable results.
If not armed teachers, if not gun-free zones, if not gun bans, if not granting to the government an exclusive domain for security and the threat of violence, what is the answer? The least satisfying answer is actually the right one: we do not know precisely how to secure schools. We – “we” as in intellectuals, pundits, or society in general – do not know how to secure banks, jewelry stores, shopping malls, or casinos. How can we find out? By devolving that responsibility to institutions themselves, you allow the emergence of security solutions that are adaptive to the particular conditions of time and place.
To my mind, Creative Commons is an imperfect solution to a major problem, while the best solution would simply leave the whole problem of production, ownership, and attribution to the market itself. But that is not the world we yet live in. Until then, it’s a beautiful thing that the market has found a stop-gap solution to the intractable problems caused by one-size-fits-all standards of legislative imposition.
The net effect of all of this has been to ruin our bathrooms. You might not realize it because the change has been slow, extending over 25 years. Only by encountering a bathroom with original fixtures from the 1940s can you perceive the full horror of what has happened. Our showers are lame, our toilets don’t work, our pipes are dirty, and everything is less sanitary. Chalk it up as yet another thing that government has ruined.
For centuries, for millennia, we’ve relied on government to stop invasions of person and property. We live more safely than ever before, thanks to market-based technological improvements, not reliance on government. It was once believed that only government could provide security; this debate dates back centuries. Now we learn otherwise. We get security from the same source that provides us food, clothing, and shelter: the matrix of voluntary exchange and free exercise of human creativity.
Sombart's leftism became rightism but it was made of the same substance always: a loathing of regular people in their free choices and a longing for history to follow his own imaginings of what should be rather than what is.
Such is the core of socialist ideology: a delusion rooted in snobbery and, above all else, intellectual pretense.
What is a market economy? We often talk about it as though it were a thing, perhaps a machine or a vehicle. Business reporters say it heats up or cools down. Sometimes it even gets stuck in a ditch. But it’s not a thing subject to heating or cooling or running off a road.
The free market — indeed, a free society — is founded on individual rights, including the right to one’s justly acquired property. If the government’s rules regarding the use and disposal of property are “flexible,” a free society is doomed.
Business decisions should be made in the marketplace, not in the halls of government.
As airlines often do, last week, United Airlines overbooked a flight. But this time, all was not well. Overbooked flights are nothing new. According to the Federal Transit Authority, U.S. airlines convinced over 400,000 passengers to give up their seat on an overbooked flight in 2016.
Allison is nothing if not an expert on banking and finance, and having witnessed up close the 2008 financial crack-up that rendered so much of his competition insolvent, he’s written an essential book on the causes of a financial crisis that he unapologetically concludes was born by government error.
It is bad enough that opponents of the free market wrongly blame capitalism for environmental pollution, depressions, and wars. Whatever the failings of their causal theories, at least they are focused on undoubtedly bad things. We have really gone beyond the pale, though, when the market is blamed for something good.