Good News BearsJanuary 17, 2010
Given the closing quote, Leiter suggests that Rowley is calling for the assassination of the president. That’s a terrible thing to call for, of course, and it is maybe even true that Rowley is calling for that, but I’m here to rescue readers of Rowley’s ramblings from any such absurd conclusion.
Namely, Rowley’s logic is so manifestly abominable that even a merely moderately astute reader should ascertain that the concluding remarks are only randomly tacked on, and that the substance of the argument doesn’t affix to the concluding remarks.
Rowley uses this clever device to suggest that the current health care legislation signals a descent into tyranny:
Suppose, dear reader, that, while residing legally in the United States, you choose not to purchase a daily newspaper. Perhaps your choice is determined by a concern that all newspapers varnish the truth, perhaps by budgetary constraints. Suppose that you choose not to outlay your monies on an annual vacation, perhaps because you believe that ‘your nest is always best’, perhaps because of budgetary constraints. Suppose that a bigot is elected to the presidency and ‘persuades’ Congress to require you to purchase a newspaper, or to fine you for not so doing ; to require you to take an annual vacation, or to fine you for not so doing. Would you not be alarmed, dear reader, by such an invasion of your liberty to engage or not to engage in specific market activities? Would you not view such an intervention as an act of tyranny much more serious than the eighteenth century interventions by King George III merely to tax certain kinds of consumption while yet leaving his colonists free to purchase or not to purchase the affected items?
Suppose you choose not to purchase a daily newspaper. Not so implausible. I rarely purchase a newspaper, as most of the news is free online.
Suppose also that you choose not to outlay your monies on an annual vacation. Also not so implausible. I rarely outlay my monies. I like to keep my monies for myself, thank you very much.
Suppose then that a bigot is elected to the presidency. Okay. Let’s suppose that. The newly-elected president’s bigotry is deeply relevant to what, exactly?
Suppose also that the aforementioned bigot scare-quotedly persuades Congress to require everyone to purchase the aforementioned daily newspaper. Would I be upset about that?
Damn right I’d be upset about that… I’d be upset about that because there is no good reason for a bigot (or a government) to force me to purchase a daily newspaper. My consumption of the news is not a public good; simply having a newspaper in my hands does not at all translate into my having read, understood, and digested the news; the fact that I do not have a daily copy of a newspaper in my hands does not in any direct or indirect way impact someone else’s consumption of the daily news.
If this is somehow supposed to parallel an insurance situation, we’re missing a lot of connective tissue.
Fact is, all government policies and regulations, and even all non-government policies and regulations (to which one is subject) are moderately to extensively coercive. Moral rules, codes of behavior, federal and state laws, rules of thumb, rules of the workforce — these are all oriented around offering some external guidance to support good and bad, right and wrong, desirable and undesirable, behaviors. It’s the justification of the rules, the reason for the rules, that matters…not that there are rules.
That a rule or law comes into effect that may require a person to change his or her behavior ought not alone to be problematic, even if you are the staunchest libertarian at the anarchy party.
So please, put down the guns and let’s have a serious discussion about what rules are rules that will make the world better and more just.