Saturday Rate of Exchange:
The Libertarian Ideal

from Burr Deming

 
The traditional libertarian argument against most business regulation is that governmental interference is not necessary. There is already sufficient incentive toward responsible behavior in simple self-interest: Harmful practices are bad for business.

But, at the core, Ayn Rand followers see government intrusion as inherently immoral, a violation of private rights. Loyal reader Trey found an image that capsulizes the weakness of the libertarian case.

Our readers react:

Ryan:

The resulting free market pressures closed the bar down shortly thereafter. That means everything worked out in the end, right?

Trey:

Or they lower prices temporarily, claim they changed suppliers, and, if the bar is part of a large chain with resources, buy off people to work at discrediting the story as a false narrative created by the bar’s competitors.

Ryan:

Or nothing really happens because they’re the only bar in the area.

S’toon:

Does closing down the bar due the free market fairy AFTER its killed people bring the dead people back to life?

We learned on my pharmacy technician course that regulations happen when bad things happen to prevent the bad thing from happening again.

Somehow preventing bad things from happening is bad in the minds of the right.

Trey:

A certain segment of the population think that the Federal Government is out to get people and implement regulations as some sort of power grab. What actually happens is that regulations are put in place when the free market proves that it’s not going to do what needs to do to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Zap Pow:

Which is a great satisfaction for the dead and their families!

Ryan:

Yes, S’toon and Zap Pow, that was the point of my comment.

We either have to depend on the “rational self-interest” of our fellow humans to not harm us or be satisfied that our injuries or deaths *might* cause someone financial hardship–at least until he moves to a place where no one knows him and opens up a new business. And somehow we can count on self-interest and the market to protect us even when a business has no competition because it’s part of a small town, occupies a niche market, or has the resources to crush others.

It’s difficult to caricaturize libertarianism when it has done such a fine job of doing it to itself.

Ed:

Statist Ideal: You walk into a doctor’s office. The doctor serves you regulated Fentynal. You die.

Ryan:

So because a government gets things wrong sometimes (I’m not sure that your example is great, but I’ll take it) or cannot account for every scenario in which someone could be harmed, we should do away with prevention and oversight through regulation. Better to die from the same situation in an unregulated or far less regulated market than to die because the government made a mistake.

Have a safe regulated weekend.

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The Libertarian Ideal”

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