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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16055/the-injustice-of-social-justice/

The Injustice of Social Justice

March 16, 2011 by

Because the program of social justice inevitably involves claims for government provision of goods, paid for through the efforts of others, the term actually refers to an intention to use force to acquire one’s desires — not to earn desirable goods by rational thought and action, production and voluntary exchange, but to go in there and forcibly take goods from those who can supply them! FULL ARTICLE by Ben O’Neill


RS March 16, 2011 at 8:40 am

Very, very well written! Thank you!

J. Murray March 16, 2011 at 8:45 am

Everyone has the right to be free from proponents of social justice.

There, I just destroyed their entire movement.

RS March 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

or, along a similar line, everyone has a right to “disagree”.

if so, then all force must be removed from society to the best of everyones collective ability. the only truly “social product” or “public utility/good” in the literall sense of the term is “freedom” i.e. a persons perogative to associate or disassociate.

Carl March 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

Ugh, when I went to St. Joseph’s University in Philly, all I heard about was Social Justice this Social Justice that. It created much ignorance. I remember a student giving a keynote speech at our graduation. She was an economics major. And she talked about “Social Justice for the poor, the mistreated” etc. I thought “this girl has not learned a single thing about economics in the 4 years she went to school”.

It was a Jesuit University. It seemed to me a religious organization that thought “forced” equality was the most viable economic environment. I am very religious myself, but there may not be anything more dangerous than mixing religion with policy.

J. Murray March 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

It also doesn’t help that those individuals regularly misinterpret or engage in selective memory loss on their own scripture. The entirety of 12 Romans is almost libertarianism in a nutshell, yet no one seems to notice it exists and is conveniently ignored for out-of-context quotes from elsewhere.

Brian Drake March 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Exactly. “Christian” statists love to quote Romans 13, but neglect the necessity of reading Romans 12 first.

Gil March 17, 2011 at 12:58 am

Really? Romans 12:20 seems to suggest a Welfare State since God seems to be ordering charity and not merely suggesting.

J. Murray March 17, 2011 at 5:16 am


“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

How do you come to that conclusion? It’s telling you not to abuse prisoners of war. It’s closely related to Guantanomo than welfare.

Gil March 17, 2011 at 6:21 am

The sentence doesn’t end with something like “. . . but if you don’t give charity that okay too.”

J. Murray March 17, 2011 at 6:28 am

It doesn’t talk about charity. It has nothing to do with charity. It has nothing to do with the poor, the disadvantaged, the elderly, the disabled, or any other such group. And I challenge you to find a scripture that orders man to create agencies and force people to contribute to charity, to go to their homes with armed men if they refuse, and to throw those that dissent into prison for not contributing to charity.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

Yup, it’s telling you NOT to create welfare programs. If someone doesn’t give to charity, it’s God’s duty and God’s duty alone to punish the failure. You are sinning by punishing those who don’t contribute to charity.

Brian Drake March 17, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Backing J. Murray here. An individual mandate for personal behavior cannot be honestly read as the divine command to establish a state agency. Our responsibility is directly to God, not to other humans.

““. . . but if you don’t give charity that okay too.”
Where in that verse, or anywhere else in the New Testament are other humans given authority or command to be “God’s enforcers”? So even though it is a command, that doesn’t imply sanction for other humans to use force to compel compliance of others.

The New Testament prescribes “shunning” (in deed, if not in name) as the ultimate “punishment” towards professing Christians who continue to rebel in sin when confronted in a proper manner by other Christians. That’s the extent of the “punishment”. A “welfare state” would require violence if anyone “sinned” by refusing to participate.

J. Murray is correct that Romans 12:20 is explicitly about treating one’s enemies. But there are verses that command charity. Personal charity and “welfare state” are antithetical. As a fellow human, forcing someone to give to the poor is actually depriving them the ability to respond to God on their own, and thus making their “charity” meaningless since it does not come from the heart.

Gil March 18, 2011 at 6:11 am

The whole concept of the Christian religion is that by following God’s word is that you’ll find eternal bliss and if you don’t then you’ll get eternal torment. Thus people don’t have to follow the commandments and face any Earthly punishment but they will face a supernaturnal punishment. Trying to use Biblical quotes to badmouth governments is pointless as Jesus didn’t condemn the institution of slavery and reminds us that all authorities come from God. If you’re a Christian and actually believe God will punish people for failing to give to charity then you’re not much of a Libertarian.

Fr. Austin September 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm

J. Murray and Gil, you’re both off here. We are required to do more than “not abuse” our enemies. Christ elsewhere tells us to give our enemies the cloak off our back, walk with them for two miles instead of one, etc.; this is more than “don’t abuse.” We do have to show charity to people, even our enemies. “Even the heathen love those that love them,” but Christians are supposed to love even our enemies!

Yet, charity is a virtue, which comes through faith and the grace of God. St. Paul tells us that “If I have not charity (and do all kinds of neat things for people and for God)… I am but a clanging gong or resounding cymbal.” It’s possible, then, to do things that seem charitable, but without real charity. If charity must be an act of virtue done by the grace of God, then the State cannot compel it. In fact, when the State takes money from people and distributes it without their consent, it is precisely NOT charity. It is IMPOSSIBLE for that to be charity. We must be charitable, but the State can’t force it.

Joe March 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm

@J. Murray,
I find it hard to believe that any so called “Christian” would be concerned with this world or anything the government has to say. A true Christian would only be concerned that the government does not throw them to the lions. After reading the New Testament I came away with the impression that Christians should not worry about this world since it is temporary and their rewards will be in heaven. The early Christians were what you would define as communist in nature because they stayed away from the world and lived unto themselves. They supported themselves through thithes. Not saying they didn’t work outside their religious community but they were not involved within the worldly community. Kind of like the Amish, etc. that stay away from worldly things.

Dave Albin March 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

It’s scary when youth pastors and their families go on WIC or some kind of public aid because “youth pastors don’t make much”. Apparently doing God’s work means it’s OK to contribute to theft? They should reread the ten commandments…..

Fr. Austin September 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Religion mixed with policy is fine, to a degree, because ultimately every argument about right and wrong is an argument about religion. I.e., why is murder wrong? If someone wants to say that God has nothing to do with it, but that murder is wrong only because it infringes upon another’s liberty, then one can ask the question: who says there’s a moral imperative not to infringe upon others’ liberty? Ultimately, atheism can offer no moral argument for the good, because the good cannot exist; only the convenient or pleasant or arbitrarily equitous can exist. Therefore, any attempt to isolate religion from law and policy, is guaranteed to produce an arbitrary and totalitarian system. Religion gives us a knowledge of morality, and morals should (and do) undergird our entire system of law and order. Religion can even give us the insight that we should not force others to accept our dogmata, even while we advocate for sensible, moral (and ultimately religion-inspired) jurisprudence.

The problem with “Catholic Social Justice,” is that it is neither Catholic, nor socially just. It’s not religion and policy; it’s cultural (as opposed to economic) Marxism, propagated by a clerical counter-culture in defiance of authentically Catholic teaching. Traditional and pious Catholics have been fighting against “Social Justice” for decades; though it has been deeply entrenched in Catholicism since the unwashed hippies took over the sanctuary in the 60s, the octogenarians are dying off and younger priests tend to be more sensible and conservative.

Rick March 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

This article is an instant saver for future reference. I’ve constantly been arguing vs. those who push for social (in)justice by delineating between inalienable / non tangible rights & goods and services. More so, how one’s sweat is not needed for the former but is for the latter, thus …. what is just is and only is allowing one to pursue a voluntary exchange for those goods and services; nothing more, nothing less.

Cassandra March 16, 2011 at 9:50 am

Everyone has the right to drink Four Loko and eat trans fats.

The Fringe Economist March 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm


unconvinced March 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

I take serious issue with a couple point you made in this article. While many of the things in the video people say they have “rights” to are fanciful, you cannot compare other debatable subjects to ice cream. Some are designed to be light, some are much more serious.

I further take issue with your conclusion that one cannot hold a right to something that hasn’t been around for the duration of human existence. Perhaps we have the right to speak, but not the right to vote. Democracies certainly haven’t been around forever, only really about as long as the U.S. Perhaps we have the right to own spears but not guns. Certainly, we don’t NEED guns, in the same way we don’t NEED prenatal healthcare.

The conclusion is wrong because people may have actually had a right to these things all along, they just didn’t exist yet. How could you say that someone 300 years ago didn’t have a right to healthcare? simply because there were no doctors around? If a person were born onto an island occupied only by atheists, would he have no right to freedom of religion simply because it didn’t exist?

Healthcare is a perfect example, because it seems by your own analysis that you should have to prove that there is no moral imperative to provide healthcare before you say that it is not a “right”. And for a perfect example of why you’re wrong, one need look no further than the Hippocratic oath. You will never be able to convince doctors to turn away emergency patients who are sick, so at the very least the idea that it is a moral imperative is debatable.

Carl March 16, 2011 at 10:17 am

The “Right” to Healthcare.

So someone has the right to force me to pay for them? What other rights require that? The right to guns is completely different because it is an individual choice.

J. Murray March 16, 2011 at 10:20 am

An individual has the right to seek health care, but he has no right to the labor of materials of another to provide it. The Hippocratic oath is a voluntary oath taken by medical professionals as is the policy to not turn away critical patients. Those doctors and hospitals are, however, not obligated to follow that oath and can, at any time, reject those individuals. Any law passed obligating such action and punishing those who refuse is unjust.

A right can only be defined by something that exists with inaction. Health care doesn’t just happen, it requires action. Something cannot be a right if it involves violating a different right.

Something that requires action to obtain is not a right, but a violation of rights. You can’t create the right to health care without violating my right to liberty and property. My right to liberty and property does not violate the rights of another.

That’s the distinction.

RS March 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

Only a concrete bound mentality could ask such questions. This is like asking how one can identify a chair made of metal as a “chair” when all the ones prior were made of wood. Is a metal chair not a chair because it had not existed until it was made? what makes a “chair” a “chair”?

The concept of a “right”, like all other concepts, are inductive generalizations i.e. universals and in order to be valid they must apply logically through time and space othwerwise they are not conceptual integrations but conceptual misintegrations.

I would strongly suggest you read up on some epistemology before opinining in this way.

Agora March 16, 2011 at 10:49 am

A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sitting there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight,
And no one there you can kiss good night.

–Burt Bacharach

RS March 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

lol, if a bear $h!@s in a wood and there is no one there to see it, does it still stink?

Franklin March 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Not to sound like a jerk, because this was very, very funny, but Hal David probably wrote those words. Burt and he collaborated on many great ones, with the former usually writing the music and the latter usually responsible for the lyrics.

Agora March 17, 2011 at 7:51 am

Can always count on the Mises blog to set me straight. How can I forget Hal David?

Daniel March 16, 2011 at 10:26 am

The Hippocratic oath is taken voluntarily

And you’re conflating positive and negative rights. In an island full of atheists, you could create your own religion and that would be no one’s business, whereas in certain religions, infidels and atheists are to be put to death.

Likewise, in a capitalist society you could have your own commune but in a communist society you can’t have a market.

It’s amusing how your disagreement is insofar as something is a right or not, not whether agressing against another who has not agressed against you is proper or not.

Anyway, I think you’d benefit from learning about compossibility of rights, since it’s possibly the best criterion in determining if a “right” is truly a right or a priviledge.

Andy March 23, 2011 at 12:47 am

The government has created monopoly protection for physicians. Why shouln’t they dictate who gets treatment? Quid pro quo. If you don’t like the arrangement, don’t practice medicine.

Fr. Austin September 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm


As several “atheist islands” have shown us, many atheists do make it their business if people choose to practice a religion. Millions more believers have died at their hands, than vice-versa.

While Islam (and perhaps, once upon a time, Judaism) has put atheists to death, there is no known instance of an atheist who has been martyred by the Church.

R Lee March 16, 2011 at 10:36 am


I have to hand it to you. Just when I thought I’d heard every possible absurdity about “rights” you’ve taken it to a new low. What about a “right” to kill? Certainly killing’s been around about as long as anything else.

JE March 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

A lot of good replies here. I’ll also add that unconvinced’s confusion might rest on the nuances of phrases containing the word “right.”

Take unconvinced’s example, the right to own a gun. No one really has the right “to a gun” any more than they have the right to healthcare or clean water. Such a right would require forcing someone to make and distribute guns. However, everyone does have the right “to OWN a gun,” meaning that people have the right to pursue the ownership of a gun and to maintain that ownership.

We can bring the problem of existence into the fold as well. I have no right TO a time machine, but the fact that they don’t exist doesn’t nullify my right to OWN a time machine.

Joe March 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Maybe Ayn Rand will shed some light on “Rights.”
“…that a right is the property of an individual, that society as such has no rights, and that the only moral purpose of a government is the protection of individual rights.”
“Any alleged “right” of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right. No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man. There can be no such thing as “the right to enslave.”
You have to understand there are no society rights only individual rights. If I desire your car and I walk over to your house and take it you would probably think that was wrong. Why would you think it would be wrong? If you think that I should pay for your healthcare why would you think that is right? Just because your desire and want to live is stronger than your desire to keep your car does not give you a right to steal from another individual. Medical care is not free and it is a service just like all other services. That goes for education, it is also a service but doesn’t automatically make it a right just because you put more importance on one service over another.

Inquisitor March 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I actually pity you because of how vacuous your arguments are. The Hippocratic Oath, sworn voluntarily by doctors, is proof there’s a “right” to healthcare? So are rights just fictional constructs entitling you to any goodies you want? Why do I not have a right to candy? I “need” it and it satiates the need to be fed.

Tom Utley March 18, 2011 at 10:17 am

There is no right to vote. Voting is a political construct created by states to herd sheep. No person has the right to vote.

Fr. Austin September 5, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Unconvinced, let’s see if we can convince you, one point at a time.

About rights to things that haven’t existed for a long time: Self-governance certainly pre-existed the organization of governments and the state. The organization of a government would only have come about after a certain number of people and the ensuing complexity required it. So, the recognition that people have the right to have a say in how they are governed, is a right that goes all the way back to the beginning. That said, the mere question of “how long something has existed” isn’t a solid or iron-clad rationale for establishing rights, and I wouldn’t accept it, either.

The real reason health care isn’t a right, is because there is a difference between a right to a good or service that someone must provide you, and rights to do certain things or be free from certain kinds of constraint. The Constitution doesn’t give us “the right to a gun,” but “the right to keep and bear arms,” since this “is necessary to the security of a free state” (i.e., guns ARE more necessary than pre-natal care!). But do you see that the “right to keep and bear arms” is not the same thing as “a right to a gun?” I.e., you may have the right to own a gun, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to force anyone to *provide you* with a gun. If you did, you would have the right to force someone to sell you a gun (even if he didn’t want to do business with you); if you couldn’t afford to pay, you would also have the right to force him to give you a gun for free, or to force “the State” to pay for it (since, if it’s a “right,” your ability to pay should be irrelevant!); and, if “the State” pays, who really pays? The people, via taxes. So, you would have the right to force the rest of us to pay for your gun. Tell me, do you want your tax dollars to pay for my gun? I don’t own one yet, and I’m a monk (and so without money), and so my “right to a gun” means YOU have to pay! It’s my right!

You see, if you start introducing a “right” to be provided with goods and services, you are actually advocating slavery. How? You are forcing someone to provide you with the good or service in the first place. In the second place, if you can’t pay for the good or service, but you have a “right” to it, then somebody not only has to be there to provide it to you, but somebody has to PAY for you. I.e., other people are required to work for you and pay for your stuff; people are literally enslaved for your “right” to goods and services. Real rights aren’t like this; real rights harmonize with the rights of others. Take a case study:

Let’s say there was only one doctor near you; let’s say he is an actual Buddhist (and not your typical, leftist, American wannabe-Buddhist); let’s also say that he only wants to take on 50 patients in his practice, so that he can give them the attention his moral standards require of him; now, let’s say you wanted an abortion; let’s say we live in a liberal paradise, and abortion is “health care” and therefore “a right;” let’s also say that you are poor.

Your “right” to health care requires us to deny this doctor several rights of his own: 1) Real Buddhism, as the Dalai Lama explains, is just as opposed to abortion as Christianity – so, you are denying this doctor his right NOT to provide you with a service, which he finds immoral; 2) you are denying him his right to choose the number of patients he wants to help; 3) you are denying him his right NOT to be your slave, working for you for free; 4) OR, if you think “the State” should pay him for his work, you are taking away MY RIGHT, and EVERYBODY ELSE’, not to be slaves… because, since “the State” only has the money it takes from us, you would be requiring the people to give their wages to you, in order to pay for your “rights.”

Now answer this: once people realize that they have a “right” to things like food, housing, health care, etc., and, since these are “rights,” that they don’t have to pay for them, how many people do you think will choose to work hard in order to pay for these goods and services? How many do you think will take it easy, and demand that “the State” give them food, housing and health care? And, even if a few people do still have enough moral backbone to work for a living, I bet they’ll stop REAL FAST, when they realize that most or all of their wages are being taken in taxes to pay for the MULTITUDES of people who AREN’T working, in the expectation that “the State” will provide them with all of their “rights” for free.

Do you see how stupid this whole idea is? We can forgive some young liberals for being blinded by the idealism and zeal of youth, into believing nice-sounding ideas about a “perfect world.” But, you have to grow up some day and see how these things would play out in the real world. If you have a “right” to goods and services, soon the State will have to provide them to you… and the State can only provide them, by enslaving or stealing from the people. And THAT is not American; it is the most egregious possible violation of human rights. So, now you know better, and have no excuse. Strive to learn to truly think critically about the half-baked ideas of the left. I promise you, they are ALL half-baked. Or, more accurately: the real movers and shakers of the left know exactly what these policies lead to… and that’s what they’re hoping for. They just have to hoodwink the rank-and-file leftists into thinking that they’re really working for beautiful hope-n-change.

Barry Loberfeld March 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

FROM An Inquiry Concerning “Social Justice” and Its Influence

What is “social justice”? The theory that implies and justifies the practice of socialism. And what is “socialism”? Domination by the State. What is “socialized” is state-controlled. So what is “totalitarian” socialism other than total socialism, i.e., state control of everything? And what is that but the absence of a free market in anything, be it goods or ideas? Those who contend that a socialist government need not be totalitarian, that it can allow a free market — independent choice, the very source of “inequality”! — in some things (ideas) and not in others (goods — as if, say, books were one or the other), are saying only that the socialist ethic shouldn’t be applied consistently. This is nothing less than a confession of moral cowardice. It is the explanation for why, from Moscow to Managua, all the rivalries within the different socialist revolutions have been won by, not the “democratic” or “libertarian” socialists, but the totalitarians, i.e., those who don’t qualify their socialism with antonyms. “Totalitarian socialism” is not a variation but a redundancy, which is why half-capitalist hypocrites will always lose out to those who have the courage of their socialist convictions. (Likewise, someone whose idea of “social justice” is a moderate welfare state is someone who’s willing to tolerate far more “social injustice” than he’s willing to eliminate.)

What is “social justice”? The abolition of privacy. Its repudiation of property rights, far from being a fundamental, is merely one derivation of this basic principle. Socialism, declared Marx, advocates “the positive abolition of private property [in order to effect] the return of man himself as a social, i.e., really human, being.” It is the private status of property — meaning the privacy, not the property — that stands in opposition to the social (i.e., “socialized,” and thus “really human”) nature of man. Observe that the premise holds even when we substitute x for property. If private anything denies man’s social nature, then so does private everything. And it is the negation of anything and everything private — from work to worship to even family life — that has been the social affirmation of the socialist state.

What is “social justice”? The opposite of capitalism. And what is “capitalism”? It is Marx’s coinage (minted by his materialist dispensation) for the Western liberalism that diminished state power from absolutism to limited government; that, from John Locke to the American Founders, held that each individual has an inviolable right to his own life, liberty, and property, which government exists solely to secure. Now what would the reverse of this be but a resurrection of Oriental despotism, the reactionary increase of state power from limited government to absolutism, i.e., “totalitarianism,” the absolute control of absolutely everything? And what is the opposite — the violation — of securing the life, liberty, and property of all men other than mass murder, mass tyranny, and mass plunder? And what is that but the point at which theory ends and history begins?

Mushindo March 16, 2011 at 10:41 am

Everyone has the right to…….

do whatever they damn well please, to the maximum extent consistent with the same right for others

Anonymous March 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

Actually, I think we should redefine “social justice.” The sum of a just society is that every man should have the right to keep what is rightfully his. That is all that genuine “social justice” entails. Thus, “social justice” as the Marxoids define it is actually “social injustice.”

George Peacock March 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

More for adult consumption but it made me think of George Carlin’s thoughts about “rights.”
Longer version with “swearing on the bible”

Iain March 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I dunno I think Carlin gets negative and positive rights confused.

Fr. Austin September 5, 2011 at 9:43 pm

“Adult consumption?” Hmm… Carlin brilliantly argues that:

1) If God gave us rights, He would give us food and housing, etc.
Answer: A: A right is a “just claim,” which no man has upon God; God gave us just claims with respect to our fellow men – so, our rights are indeed from God, but not against or upon God; B: God provided us with everything we needed, and for certain reasons of our own devising, we now must live with a less ideal set of circumstances… which, just like when parents punish their children, may *seem* bad and unpleasant, but REALLY is still for our good. And, just like children can make the best or worst of a punishment, our free will can be put to better or worse use in coping with our present calamity.

2) If God gave us rights, why would He give us a certain number of rights?
Answer: Because for God to give us any rights at all, obviously requires a “certain number” of rights. What a smart guy he is!

3) God forgot about slavery.
Answer: the Scriptures make it plain that God, starting from some absolutely barbaric cultural assumptions in the ancient world, is having compassion upon mankind’s stupidity through the course of the scriptures, only gradually placing greater and greater moral and spiritual burdens upon us. Hence, the Scriptures themselves, as they unfold, make plain that some of the moral assumptions or commandments of earlier portions, are not really good enough. For example, the Scriptures often refer to the fact that the very sacrifices, which God commands, are not really germane or pertinent to the things that really matter to God, but are symbolic of them, and point to them. So, rather than try to absolutely abolish slavery from the beginning, at a time when all mankind practiced slavery and more or less depended upon it, God instead commanded that the Jews treat their slaves with compassion and respect, giving them the chance to go free after a certain time. Recognizing that some Jews were so kind to their slaves that the slaves became a member of the family, He even made provision for the slave to choose to remain with the family, making the family responsible for continuing to do well by the former slave if he chose to remain and eat their food, live in their home, etc. That may not be perfect yet, but it was an huge improvement over the situation everywhere else! In Christianity, slaves are encouraged to gain freedom if they may, and Christian masters are encouraged to free their slaves or, failing that, to treat them well. Since slavery was a fait accompli in the Roman Empire, it was not God’s plan for the fledgling community of Christians to add one more “social cause” to their already major task of converting the world. Once the world was converted, one notices that Christianity slowly stamped out slavery. Protestant nations reintroduced it late in the game, but EVEN THEN, pious Christians everywhere fought against nominal Christians’ acceptance of the practice and Abolitionism was very much a Christian movement. So, slavery didn’t “slip” God’s mind. He had a pretty good plan, I’d say, for weaning His followers off of it, despite how convenient and natural it is for people to abuse each other.

4) Why does God give people in different countries different rights?
Answer: A: He doesn’t. Some people understand God’s laws and know Him better or worse than others, and so do a better or worse job of recognizing and defining those rights. B: None of the countries’ Bills of Rights claim to be exhaustive; they indicate a recognition of certain Rights that the use of reason and revealed religion can positively affirm, all the while admitting that, as new situations present themselves, reason guided by revelation may find that new definitions of rights can be categorically made. For example, now that economical power has come to eclipse more traditional concepts of governmental power in importance and influence, I think economic rights will be amongst the next to be examined and defined in clear and absolute terms.

5) The abuse of Japanese-Americans proves we have no rights, and the erosion of our rights proves that we don’t have rights. Only “privileges” exist.
ANSWER: “Abusus non tollit usus.” “The abuse of a thing, does not nullify the proper use of a thing.” Just because people IGNORE rights – i.e., just claims of one man against another – does not mean that the right does not exist. It means that some people have no qualms about violating your rights. Carlin’s attempted point, is one I used to make in my liberal days. But, he misunderstands (as I once did), that “a right” is not the same things as “a guarantee.” It is a description of what SHOULD be done, so that society may come together in the recognition of that fact and strive to defend what is just against what is unjust. It’s not a guarantee, but it is a great help.

6) After saying we don’t really have any rights, Carlin argues that we must have “infinite rights.”
ANSWER: Carlin displays what a profoundly short-sighted and irrational man he really was, right here. First, the point goes against everything he just said. Then, as his own example shows, this concept is ridiculous and meaningless. There would be an endless amount of rights that were asserted against other asserted rights… meaning, no rights would really exist at all. So, for example, Carlin says he has the right to do “whatever he pleases,” but then, if we don’t like it, we have the right to kill him. So, it would seem that the “right to life” is not a right, and the number of rights is anything but infinite. Thus, even when he stops saying we have no rights, in order to state that we have infinite rights, he still winds up saying we have no rights. He truly was a luminary amongst atheists.

I used to be leftist and atheist… but, once I sat down and really thought about these issues in some actual depth, I couldn’t help but perceive what rubbish it all is. Liberals often spout their irrational philosophy with sarcasm or condescending humour, which has the effect of causing people to emotionally identify with the intellectual superiority of its snide invective. It short circuits the critical step of actually examining what is said, replacing it with the mere feeling of a secure smugness. Hence the iconic nature of “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” etc. That’s exactly what I got from this bit by George Carlin: if you say it snidely enough, and with enough of an air of intellectualism, people will identify with it (desiring these traits for themselves), and so congratulate themselves for being hip, smart, perceptive atheist progressives who can laugh along with so OBVIOUSLY smart and funny a guy as Carlin… when really, they’re buying the weakest trains of thought that have ever been on the market.

Bill March 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

It’s quite simple really – rights are earned, not granted.

Dave Albin March 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Everyone has a right to act as long as it does not initiate aggression against someone else or their property. Each person has the right to not act. Simple.

Jonathan M. F. Catalán March 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I don’t think acting is a right. You can’t stop acting (if you are purposefully not doing anything then you’re acting), and you can’t stop anybody from acting. It’s not something we have a right to, per sé, rather it’s something natural in our humanity.

Dave Albin March 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Maybe you’re correct – the rights come to each person in the form of self defense and the right to not be prevented from acting.

RS March 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

“you can’t stop anybody from acting”

But, that is exactly what happens when someones “rights” are violated. The whole nature of a right is the ability to act and to keep the product of those actions, a violation of someones rights can only happen if one persons actions prevents the actions of another and for that reason a “right” is a social concept as well as a moral one, it is the bridge that links the sphere of the moral actions of a man acting alone (e.g.on a desert island) and the sphere of moral actions of a man acting with other men (e.g. society). In that sense, acting is a right as it is something that is part of human nature BECAUSE you literally cant stop acting.

Bill March 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

In another context, the Founding Fathers had it right; we have an inalienable right to pursue happiness – similarly, we can spend a lifetime seeking social justice. A difficult undertaking – just look at the discussion so far, it concerns itself only with articulating a definition. And when you’ve finished defining it, the real work starts. But how will you know you’ve found it? Surely we all understand that there is no stasis but only flux in the affairs of men (for which we should be grateful, ’cause otherwise we’d never get a decent day’s work done!).

Gil March 17, 2011 at 1:19 am

But the right to live peacefully is a positive right because you’re obliged others to play nice when they may not want to. If you’re not good at self-defence then you’re right to live peacefully is not necessarliy going to be realised. For to have it compulsory that others have to help you when you’re in trouble then to live peacefully becomes a positive right.

RS March 17, 2011 at 10:01 am

@ Gil,

Living peacefully is by definition a negative with respect to other people, peace means not initiating force against another, agression is initiating force. The difference between murder and self-defense is the difference between living peacefully and living agressively. conflating the two, as if one person’s act of “murder” is just the same as another person’s act of “preventing” murder are both equally desireable or equitable is THE fundamental flaw with the misean worldview of subjective value theory and it totally contradicts any and all arguments they make for freedom and liberty.

if you doubt me just look at the posts by “Anti-Gnostic” in this very blog and you will see the self-admitted truth by the so called “free market” anarchists that the sole determinant between actors with conflicting goals cannot be anything other than the use of force. oh, they will claim that the “market” will somehow produce a non-violent solution but a “market” does not exist when guns are used to facilitate exchanges instead of dollars so at the end of the day it will boil down to whomever has the most guns. As Ayn Rand once succinctly stated, “when force is the standard, the murderer always wins over the thief”. That is a universal truth that cannot be circumvented. a free market cannot exist in anarchy, it’s that simple.

Gil March 18, 2011 at 6:24 am

Missed the point, eh? People say they want to have a right a house then you’d say that they should either build it themselves or hire others to build it but they ought to not to be able to force others into paying for one By the same token, if people say they want to be free from crime it means they either defend themselves or they hire others to do it but they should have no right to force to pay for it. Pleading to an idea scenario where everyone is moral and wouldn’t commit acts of theft and violence is just wishful thinking.

Peter Surda March 21, 2011 at 10:44 am


By the same token, if people say they want to be free from crime it means they either defend themselves or they hire others to do it but they should have no right to force to pay for it.

Of course. What’s the problem with that?

Evan Foreman March 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

I claim no right but to my own life and the product of my own labor and its disposition: the same right I accord to every one of my fellows.

august mezzetta March 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm

The United States “Bill of Rights” embodies those basic rights of all men and women. It is sad that the “Bill of Rights” has now degenerated into hand outs by evil politicians to buy votes and who are now protected by a totalitarian media. Have we all gone mad?

Rick March 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm


I’ll conceed that if people have a “right” to healthcare, then those same people should also respect the right of others who wish to NOT fund it with their own sweat, blood, and labour.

btw, “healthcare” and doctors have been around for thousands of years. Medicine, while far more advanced today, is not some new aged phenomena.

Don Levit March 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm

What about income inequality in our country?
I understand it is even higher than before the Great Depression?
What about the average premium for health insurance for a family of $13,000 a year versus the median houserhold income of $50,000 a year?
Would you say both those issues are simply what they are, so leave them alone?
Can one be just without being generous?
Don Levit

George Peacock March 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Don, there is indeed greater income inequality today, but the averages don’t tell the whole story because of some of the out-sized incomes out there. In any event, the person who makes $1,000,000 is not necessarily 10x happier or even 10x better off financially than the person making $100,000. There are diminishing returns once basic needs are met, however defined. When most people raise the issue of income inequality, I find, they are usually (and justifiably, in my view) concerned about “the poor,” again, however defined. So what if Bill Gates made/make a lot more than everyone? I would say that most people’s religions would suggest that being “generous” (feeding the hungry, helping the sick, and clothing the naked, for example) is necessary to be consider just. And so the individuals who believe in those precepts really ought to step up and give (and maybe even give more). But that doesn’t mean those people get tom impose there need to be generous/just on those within the society who do not believe the same things or feel the same way. Generosity with other people’s money is not generosity at all, but coercion or, as other say it more strongly, theft. A wants B to be better off, so A make C pay money to B. Doesn’t seem right or just. It also robs the individual of the dignity of true charity and care. Finally, suggesting that health care is not a right does not imply in any way that the current system works as well as it could or that it ought to be left alone. So to answer your questions: yes (to the first) and no (to the second).

RS March 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

@ George,

You contradict yourself and you are actually agreeing with Don’s point without realizing it, as does anyone who holds to the morality of altruism.

If “justice” includes generocity and taking care of those in need then a just society can only be one where everyone is generous and those in need are taken care of so it follows that any instance where such conditions are not met would indicate a failure to achieve said “justice” and require some kind of action to correct, in practice this means that those who fail to be generous must be forced to be so and those in need must be taken care of by someone so you you have just implicitly accepted the entire state welfare aparatus while trying to explicitly reject it.

Justice combined with altruism equals statism, end of story.

George Peacock March 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm

But I do not hold to the morality of altruism. I merely acknowledge that there who, usually for reasons derived from their religious beliefs (though not exclusively) DO hold to that. What I meant to say (and thought I did) was that many people include generosity in their idea of justice. But their idea that that is the case mustn’t be imposed on others by force.

I think you are probably right that if justice is an end and generosity is a necessary prerequisite for justice, then the state would have to enforce “generosity.” But even then, there would have to be lines drawn. Maybe not bright lines, but lines.

In that world, which I do not necessarily grant, the focus should not be simply taking from those who appear to have a lot (more than you would like them to) and thereby making the be appropriately generous/just, but in creating a society in which the poorest among us still have some basic needs met, perhaps food, shelter, and, yes, some form of medical care.

RS March 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm

@ George,

Isnt it ideas that determine the way in which a society decides to organize itself? If so, then the idea of “justice” as a desireable attribute of society by those who comprise society will determine how it is to be brought about. If justice is about treating people as they deserve and what a person deserves is determined not by what they have done (or not done) but on what they lack (altruism) then it automatically sets up an inverse pyramid of need that can never be satisfied without total and complete universal immolation by all and for all. That is why altruism and statism go hand in hand and it will always fail because “success”, on that premise, can only be measured by how many people are being sacrificed on that altar.

Joe March 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Exactly, that is the justice of communism and Marx. Everyone is equal and everyone shares equally. Of course I never could understand how this was to happen. Maybe I need some of those drugs that Marx was using.

Rick March 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm

It is a historical fact that the more inequality that exists within Government’s Law the more its reflected in income inequality. So to answer your questions….

A. What about income inequality in our country? — What about it?

B. I understand it is even higher than before the Great Depression? — There has also been a lot more regulation, policy, and law today than there was back then. Coincidence?

C. What about the average premium for health insurance for a family of $13,000 a year versus the median houserhold income of $50,000 a year? — What was it when the Healthcare industry was far less regulated 30-40 years ago when Patients (Citizens) used to deal directly with Doctor’s?

D. Can one be just without being generous? Sure, but you can’t be just when you replace generousity with forced generousity ie. against one’s will – via taxation/theft.

Joe March 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm

To answer your questons all you have to do as look at the growth of the government. When they get involved there are real winners and losers. Also, they make people feel they have a free lunch and redistribute wealth. The people are dumbed down and made into children. They are told it is bad capitalists that are causing all the problems.
I really don’t know what you speak when you speak of “income inequality” and “inequality.” You would have to define those terms.
I hope you are not like the people that think just because you are poor than you always will be poor? We don’t live in a static world. You could be poor today and be a millionaire tomorrow and then lose all your money and become monetarily poor again. How do we get all the people rich at the same time? If you figure that one out let me know.
The thing you need to know is that capitalism and a free market economy will allow you the best chance at improving your income level and allowing a higher standard of living. If you want to try the government and socialism give it a shot and see where it leads.

sandre March 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm

How does anarchist order prevent open nudity & sex?

J. Murray March 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm

How does that violate your life, liberty, or property?

Shay March 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Are you implying that without laws, there would be nothing to discourage such thing (assuming that most people found it disagreeable)? If so, then how do for example your friendships work at all, absent of laws about how a friend must behave?

Brian Drake March 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Private property. (side note: everything being owned is not a bizzare concept. Everything – with minor exception – is currently owned now, but by the state. Everything. Private property is in name only in statist societies, since the state is the final decider and thus the actual acting owner. In a state-less society, everything would continue to be owned, but by those with legitimate title, gained through first appropriation of unowned property, or voluntary title transfer).

With minor exceptions (e.g., so many pre-existing easements as to make true case for some land to be considered commons), all things in an anarchist “order” would be privately owned. If you don’t want people to be naked or having sex on your property, you have the right to stipulate that condition as a requirement for admittance and expel (through force, if escalated to that point) those who violate those requirements (having violated your contract and thus become trespassers). You will have no just ability to prevent others from nudity and open sex on the property of others. You can boycott places that allow it, or you can make contracts with the property owners binding them to prevent that behavior on their property (a ticket for Disneyland, for example, would guarantee strict enforcement of modesty within the grounds of the park. Similar rules would probably be in place for general population shopping centers, since they’d lose a lot of customers by allowing open nudity/sex – while gaining a different demographic, no doubt).

RS March 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm

by “anarchist” order I assume you mean true anarchy, zero government? if so, then what determines the outcome between a property owner(s) and a trespasser(s) if there is no arbiter i.e. government to decide?

The Anti-Gnostic March 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Whoever has the most guns and/or the best aim.

Brian Drake March 16, 2011 at 7:34 pm

“what determines the outcome between a property owner(s) and a trespasser(s) if there is no arbiter i.e. government to decide?”

The idea that there should be a 3rd party arbiter to settle disputes (in this case, between owner and trespasser) is a sound one. The idea that there must only be ONE such 3rd party in a certain territory is not so sound. And that unsound idea is at the core of the concept of “government” (state). In fact, it’s also inconsistently applied, because the state not only demands the right to be the 3rd party arbiter in all disputes in its fiat jurisdiction, but also the arbiter in disputes that it itself is party to, thus negating the 3rd party requirement.

I could easily require you agree to an arbitration service (which would be competing in the market, requiring customer satisfaction for business, not threats of violence against “customers” and competitors) before allowing you onto my property, or you could do the same to me before attending. The arbiter between you and me doesn’t have to be the same as between another person and me.

Whether arbitration is backed by force, or simply a credit-rating-like system where your refusal to abide by arbitration would blacklist you from reputable businesses, well… that’s for the market to decide.

Or maybe, rather than directly contracting with an arbitration court, I’ve got property-owner’s insurance, which would insure me against theft, damage, trespassing, etc. If I suffer damages, they’d immediately reimburse me, and then the task of seeking restitution/arbitration would be for them to figure out (as would the personal “liberty insurance” company you might be a customer of, to protect you from false claims of trespass).

The possibilities are literally endless. If enough people see the usefulness of arbitration, there will be a market for it, barring government intervention (which won’t exist, by definition, in a state-less society).

RS March 17, 2011 at 10:10 am

@ Brian Drake

“The idea that there must only be ONE such 3rd party in a certain territory is not so sound. ”

Really? Your missing my implied point. Force negates any agreement. Markets and thier solutions, known or unknown, depend on the abscence of force. You cannot have a market solution or any voluntary exchange for that matter, if even one person in the exchange eschews the use of force so the idea that arbitration or markets will solve all problems assumes that the possibility of force is absent, which it never will so the free market anarchist worldview is a fantasy, a complete contradiction. The very first person or persons to decide to use force will be acting outside the market and in practice will be no different than any state except that they will be operating as an informal gang of thugs instead of an institutionalized beurocracy with some measure of control, if imperfect.

RS March 17, 2011 at 10:46 am

in the above, I meant to say that “if even one person in the exchange “chooses to not” eschew the use of force, then the market becomes meaningless…

Daniel March 18, 2011 at 1:02 am

Kind of like the u.s. in iraq? That would be the “marginal” state in action.

Incidentally, it’s cost of operation is greater than the GDP of iraq itself. It would be absurd to have the war be paid by iraqis themselves because they do not find your marginal state legitimate.
On the other hand, you have several million suckers across the atlantic that DO believe in their “ideological” state and will support it because they find it to be “legitimate” even if they claim to prefer their country not engage in wars of naked aggression.
I’d also like to remind you that dollar for dollar, the insurgents are doing a hell of a better job fighting than u.s. troops, so the free market wins again.

sandre March 16, 2011 at 3:46 pm


I understand your private property argument.

What if my neighbor has sex with his animals in the front yard of his house? It need not even be my neighbor, it could be somebody who lives along the road that I take to work, or to the store.

I want to prevent my kids from seeing something, I think, they shouldn’t.

Colin Phillips March 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Grow a hedge?

sandre March 16, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Around my neighbor’s house? How will that work in Anarchy?

Anthony March 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Social pressure would be a big part of it… most people do not like to be shunned. Apart from that, the situation could be dealt with satisfactorily through a condo-type arrangement.

A developer could sell properties with the condition that people buying them comply with certain conditions… no public nudity, no manure packing plants, etc. By doing this they might expect to make more money as people would be more willing to buy properties that are not surrounded by undesirable things.

Currently there are many communities with their own unique rules and conditions (no bare feet in the clubhouse, asphalt driveways prohibited, etc.) that do not depend on government enforcement. There is no reason that people could not form similar associations without a government standing over them.

Gil March 17, 2011 at 1:29 am

Who knows, sandre? If anything you’ll be the one shunned as a pushy do-gooder. You know well that, in Anarchtopia, if someone across the road likes sex with animals on his own private property then he’s free to do so.

RS March 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

personal acts that are considered obscene a la public norms should not be done in public. it is perfectly within a governments bounds to prohibit such things in public places as those who consider it offensive have a right to NOT see it just as those who desire to perform them have a right to do so as well. It is more a matter of being polite than of rights. if you want to do things that are commonly held to be obscene then the obligation is on the actors to warn the public that such actions are taking place or to provide a means for people who do not want to see such things to make a choice to not observe them, like posting signs outside of strip clubs or putting up hedges around a nude beach. those preventative actions should be required on the part of the actors not on the part of the observers as they are the ones who are initiating the actions.

sandre March 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I’m a minarchist. I would be in favor of local regulations at the city level that prevents this kind of stuff. I’m just wondering how it’ll work in Anarchic society.

Brian Drake March 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Who was there first?

I’ve heard several good lectures by Walter Block on this issue, expounding on Murray Rothbard’s explanation that property is actually a “bundle of rights”.

For example:
Let’s say Persons A homesteads some land (meaning it was unowned before) and builds a house, then regularly has sex with animals on the lawn. Later, Person B homesteads some unowned land either directly adjacent to Person A’s property, or at least within sight of his lawn. Does Person B have a legitimate right to compel Person A to stop marring the view from B’s property?

No. A was there first. Though A does not own B’s property, B homesteaded it in the condition in which it was found, which included a view of A’s bestiality.

Flip that around, let’s say it is B (the second guy) who is the indecent one. A does have a claim against B, because A had a unpolluted view from his property before B showed up and marred it.

It’s the same with any type of “pollution”. Noise, water, air, “view”.

Now that’s how it works in theory, but of course things are very muddled now, due to the state (which actually allows unjust pollution of various types, based on utilitarianism). The transition from statist to state-less society will no doubt not be perfect, so determining what “bundle of rights” or “easements” exist will require a lot of arbitration. It may be reasonable for a 3rd party arbiter (chosen by both disputants, on the competitive market where success only comes from pleasing customers) to declare that certain easements exist in heavily populated areas that require a certain level of “decency”.

I could be more detailed, but my point is that from a cut-and-dry property rights perspective, your desire to shield your kids from seeing something is restricted by your valid property rights. If you’re upset by the behavior of others, on the property of others, then don’t go there. However, your legitimate rights may include public thoroughfares, since, under the current property regime (state enforced), you’ve developed a just expectation of modesty. But that could vary from area to area, as property becomes fully privatized. Due to complexity, it really will be case-by-base.

RS March 17, 2011 at 10:15 am

The “bundle of rights” view of property rights actually weakens and undermines them. for more read here….


and here


Tom Utley March 18, 2011 at 10:32 am

Put a blindfold on your kids, or better yet, use it as an example to teach your kids what not to do.

The Anti-Gnostic March 18, 2011 at 11:08 am

Hey Tom. How about YOU act like a human being instead of a rutting animal. That way people don’t have to blindfold children or spend hours counteracting your nihilistic, cultural relativist drivel that has damaging long-term consequences that young people are not sophisticated enough to comprehend. And I have a serious question: do you blindfold your children or show them pornography to teach them what not to do? I think you’re making such statements because in reality you know you can rely on your local police department to make sure your neighbor isn’t masturbating on his front lawn while your children are outside.

The normative majority are forced to tolerate the antics of a pathological minority instead of the pathological minority simply keeping their impulses in check. That’s why restive minorities enlist the State to protect their precious, imaginary civil rights so they can keep practicing and socializing the costs of their harmful behavior.

Tom Utley March 18, 2011 at 11:19 am

In reality I know I *can’t* rely on local “authorities” for anything. You should look up “moral hazard” some time.

Your hypothetical is a ridiculous straw man and you know it. In a free society, someone would be free to perform sexual acts out in the open on their own property, of course, but they would be no more likely to do so, and even less likely in fact, than in our current statist society.

Why? Because discrimination would be legal in a free society, and if a person was dumb enough to offend all of his neighbors, they would be free to blacklist him from any of the local businesses, including even the roads.

The Anti-Gnostic March 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm

With no State around to protect imaginary rights, people whose sexual practices offend the market-dominant majority would be ghettoized.

RS March 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

there is nothing “market”-like about a dominant majority with guns, such an institution is usually called a “state” and if a minority offends the dominant majority enough to be forced into a ghetto then there is nothing preventing them from forcing them into a gas chamber either.

so much for a “just” society.

The Anti-Gnostic March 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm

How about a dominant majority with money to buy guns, or money to hire people to use guns? Or are we talking about some ideological Petri dish in a college ethics class where there’s no such thing as people with guns?

RS March 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm

oh, you mean the world you live in where people use the magic word “somehow” to acquire money they would “not” prefer to use instead of a gun?

if people have guns and are willing to use them then money as a tool of exchange is useless, along with a market.

The Anti-Gnostic March 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm

There’s a market for everything, including guns and the willingness to use them.

If you stick your head outdoors I bet you could find, oh, I don’t know, these events called “gun shows,” where firearms of all kinds are traded. Hell, I bet you could even find a market for training in the use of guns. I bet they even train people to aim for killing points in human targets. In exchange for money. I bet you could even find such a business on the internet. I bet they call it frontsight.com. I bet they could also refer you to businesses, say “private security companies” where you can hire people to use guns on your behalf. Or maybe I’m just imagining all this.

RS March 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm

The “Anti-Gnostic”


“The Nihilist”

No further comment necessary.

The Anti-Gnostic March 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Isn’t it just awful? First they drive the perverts out of town, next thing you know they’re stockpiling the Zyklon-B.

Colin Phillips March 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm

For someone calling themselves “The Anti-Gnostic” you seem pretty sure in that knowledge.
I’m not so sure. How much do you care about the sexual practices of others? Most people I have met care enough to gossip, to tease, to speculate, and in some cases to judge and condemn, sure. I have even met some people adamant that “somebody should do something” about other people’s sex lives – these people care what other people are doing, sure. But they are not willing to pay for it directly themselves. Even if you can find some small rabid part of the population that is willing to pay to stop, say, inter-racial sex, they would not be able to pay as much as the entire population could.

That’s the big difference between a free society and a society under the rule of the state- if the state makes the rules, everyone pays towards enforcing them, an the tax rates (or debt burdens) increase until the rule can be enforced to the state’s satisfaction. If individuals make the rules (meaning if rules are allowed to arise between free individuals), then each individual decides how much they are willing to pay to enforce each rule. If the cost of enforcement is too high relative to the degree of enforcement achieved, individuals will choose rather to have other rules enforced, rules which are more meaningful to them.

In this way, a free town may have toyed with the idea of hunting down inter-racial couples, but the expense involved and the difficulties of enforcement would quickly show this to be a very costly exercise, much more costly per unit of achievement than, say, defending private property from trespassers. I’m not saying that you couldn’t get some towns somewhere that thought that the cost of harassing inter-racial couples was “worth it”, and enough of the population was willing to pay enough to enforce it that “Anti-miscegenation ‘laws’ ” couldn’t de facto be in effect in some towns, but in far more towns it simply wouldn’t be economical.

It costs a lot to “Ghettoize” a portion of the population, especially if you have to identify that portion first. Perhaps that’s why it’s only ever states that seem to do so – when people are forced to take full account of what their bigotry is costing them, they will tend to drop it quite quickly.

The Anti-Gnostic March 16, 2011 at 4:45 pm

The market ghettoizes. People will pay a hundred thousand or more dollars extra just to have white neighbors, and it’s a safe bet they’d do the same thing not to be bothered with having to tolerate, say, somebody’s right to masturbate in his front yard.

RS March 16, 2011 at 5:07 pm

this argument is absurd. what does being rich have to do with the color of ones skin or where one performs acts of self gratification? Your premise is that only white people are rich and private and therefore can afford to live together?!? its a pretty stupid argument.

Colin Phillips March 17, 2011 at 2:45 am

Hmm, perhaps we are using the term “Ghettoize” differently – it’s a question of relative scale. If you build a fence around your house, and only allow your family in to the house, have you “ghettoized” the rest of the world? After all, the rest of the world is now forced to live in that area which is “everywhere that is not your house”.

To me, the creation of a ghetto involves forcing a portion of a population to live in a specific area (or set of areas), by using violence, or the threats of violence, against any members of this portion who choose to live in a different area. Using this definition, it is quite hard for the market to ghettoize a portion of the population, because the costs of doing so are prohibitive, and if a member of this portion wants to buy a house elsewhere, it will be very difficult to get the entire population of the rest of the area to resist making a profitable trade.

Again, I’m not saying it’s impossible, just more difficult once you remove the state’s monopoly on violence. I can quite easily imagine a situation where, say, known paedophiles find it extremely difficult to find a house in their preferred area – if enough people in an area decide that they do not like paedophiles in their area, they may band together to form a sort of voluntary house-buying collective that outbids any paedophiles, and only sells to non-paedophiles. If enough areas do this, then paedohiles might feel very much as though they are being ghettoized, and to a certain extent I’d agree. More like “ostracised” though.

Gil March 17, 2011 at 1:36 am

Since “birds of a feather stick together” there be plenty of small towns where the costs to exile a undesired group would be deemed worth it. Judging by photos of Whites lyching Blacks the White people seemed to be having a good time moreso than anything else.

Colin Phillips March 17, 2011 at 2:25 am

Yes Gil, it happens. It happened. In the presence of a state. Usually with the complicity of the state’s agents.

It’s tragic that it happens. It’s tragic that whenever you have one group that has an effective monopoly on the use of violence, that violence can so easily be turned on a small minority. It’s tragic that the state is exactly such a monopoly, and black people were often not allowed to own weapons for self defence, thanks to the state.

It’s tragic that it could happen again, no matter the form of society – any sufficiently riled up angry, violent mob can cause as much damage, if they are not prevented from doing so by other, independent forces.

Gil March 17, 2011 at 6:15 am

Why use “thanks to the State” as a monolithic entity when in reality it was a “thanks to the White majority”?

Colin Phillips March 17, 2011 at 6:53 am


Firstly, it was actually illegal for slaves, and later, black people, to own guns, in some states of the US – any black person who tried to buy a gun, and any person who tried to help them do so, would have been punished by state agents.

Secondly, I did not say “the White majority” because that implies that all white people were in concert, and were all involved in making the decision to restrict black gun ownership, and all chose to pay to enforce that decision. In the pictures you were looking, if you look closely, you will see that all of the people who chose not to participate in the lynchings are… not pictured. For whatever their reasons were, there were some white people who did not want to be involved, and so they stayed out of it. We can know these people existed, because if they did not, there would be no reason for these laws (there is no law against snorting lemon juice, because nobody wants to do it, but there is a law against snorting cocaine, because some people want to do it, and others want to stop them).

That portion of “the White majority” (because the white majority is Not a monolithic entity) that wanted to abstain from the lynchings, and did not want to try to stop black people from owning guns, only participated in these activities in one way – they were taxpayers, and their taxes were used in ways they would not have chosen voluntarily.

So, it is more correct to think of lynchings and the like being performed by the state’s agents, the sycophants of the state that “tuned” the state to match their prejudices, and the taxpayers of the state, than to think that lynchings were performed by some single entity defined by its whiteness.

Adam March 17, 2011 at 6:23 am

Or perhaps they can purchase their own property? The issue isn’t whether someone is naked, wearing drag, or skipping with one leg; it’s whether or not they are trespassing on someone else’s land.

Don Levit March 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm

It is my understanding that the top 10% own about 85% of all financial assets.
That leaves the bottom 90% of income earning households with not much more than the crumbs from a banquet.
Of course, if you are in the top 10%, I can see where you would be pleased with the status quo.
If the ability to earn a living to acquire basic necessities continues to harden, so will the hearts of the bottom 90%, as well as the top 10%.
When people get desperate, they do stupid things, actions they would have normally never taken otherwise.
And, all of us, including the top 10%, will get caught in the middle.

Obama’s answer to the health insurance situation was to provide subsidies.
This will simply inflate the costs even more.

Neither the health insurance situation nor the income inequality, in my opinion, is sustainable.
If people aren’t willing to sacrifice and pitch in to make our society more just, then, as a last resort, they need to be taught and then to act appropriately.
It really is a power situation at the core.
Those with the power will not willingly give it up.
And, if one cannot be generous, it is impossible to be (objectively) just.
Don Levit

Joe March 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Obama wants the top 10% to stay there and the bottom 90% to receive redistributed money. The problem with this is it maintains the status quo.
Our ecomony does not say the people who are currently in the top tier will remain there. It also doesn’t say the bottom tier will remain the same. Now this might come as a shock to you but on an ongoing basis people move up and down the top tiers and bottom tiers. It is not a static situation. When I was young I was in a bottom tier and through my hard work and education I worked my way up the latter. Mr. Obama feels your pain but what he does is makes you believe that the world owes you something. He wants you to stay where you are at by giving you stolen money from the real producers and people going up the latter. You now have effectively lost all incentive to be productive and enable yourself to climb higher. So in essence you become a baby always wanting something. If Obama doesn’t give it to you than you will elect someone that will.
We have reached that point in our country. The fun will be to see how it all comes out.

RS March 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm


You are reversing cause and effect. The ability of people to earn a living is not hampered by people with a lot of money but rather their productive capasicy is enhanced by it.

Government policy is what prevents people from making a living and it makes it much harder to move from the bottom to the top causing those at the top to remain at the top thereby entrenching the status quo. Calling for more government intervention to increase “generosity” only makes things worse as it whitewashes the damaging effects of statism while simultaneously blaming the victims (the producers) and subordinating everyone and everything to the non productive classes who become dependant on more and more entitlements.

George Peacock March 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm


I am not sure i posed any questions and i think you’ll find that you and i agree for the most part.

I responded to, I think, Don.

Carelessly, I re-used his term “inequality” in my response. I should have switched to something like “disparity” or “difference,” which lack the connotation of “inequality” — that is, as though some form of equality ought to exists.

George Peacock March 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm


What is someone finds your bathing suit (even you conservative one piece) to revealing. Can we make you wear, say, oh, I don’t know, a burka?

There are those for whom your showing some skin is as offensive to them as the front yard sex is to you.

I suggest: a) educating your kids that “we don’t do that; b) moving; c) taking a different way to work.

Yes, we have “decency” laws but, wow, what disparity we find aroumd the world. And it even changes here in the states over time.

R Lee March 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm

In the end all these airy opinions about “rights” and “justice” will blow right on by while the issues will be decided as they always are in the real world: By sheer raw power.

A Liberal in Lakeview March 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Maybe we can recruit the girl at 2:12 to the cause of adulthood, justice, and liberalism. She’s the one standing in front of the stone wall and is shown a moment before “shoes”.

Everyone has the right to _challenge_authority_.

The one at 2:10 is another potential recruit.

Everyone has the right to _do_whatever_as_long_as_it_doesn’t_hurt_another_.

These two rights alone are enough to kill the servitude and communism required to fulfill the other demands. Of course, the children who comprise the peace and social justice movement are rarely consistent much less willing to let others to enjoy the freedom that they demand for their own selves. (Does this remind you of any other theocratic cults that you know?) So perhaps the best that we can expect from the two females I quoted is the chance to remind them that they are hypocrites.

Don Levit March 16, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Your comment to George is very insightful.
You said that if we determine justice by what people have done or not done, I assume, in your opinion, that would be a more just system.
And, in general, I would agree with you.
If justice is determined by what people lack, there is literally no end to supplying their “needs.”
It reminds me of a saying “To be content with much is hard. To be content with even more, impossible.”

The problem obviously is are people paid justly on what they have done?
There is no right or wrong answer, but to say, that it is just for it is determined by the market has validity in only that there may not be a better way to determine just pay.
My problem is when a necessity is priced as a luxury, such as health care.
In that situation, I believe people have to make sacrifices they normally would not do in a more ordinary market situation.
Don Levit

RS March 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm


“that it is just for it is determined by the market has validity in only that there may not be a better way to determine just pay.”

There is no standard by which a 3rd party observer can determine a “proper” or “just” exchange value between two people who are engaged in trading the productivity of thier own labors, in any situation, ordinary or extreme. To stand outside the transaction and make an estimation of that kind only shows what “you” would have prefered to exchange in your own context using your own value judgments. To step in an force your value judgement on either party (or vote to have others do it for you) and to substitute their judgement for your own is the essence of injustice for it means that you have arbitrarily put your own values ahead of theirs, you are not treating them as they deserve based on their actions but as you think one or the other deserves based on some personal notion that is your own, not theirs. on what grounds and by what right can you do this and call it justice?

Ben O'Neill March 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Hi all,

Thanks for your many comments. I’m glad this article was so popular. As usual, I will try to respond to some of the issues raised. Please accept my apologies if I miss any important issues.

J Murray Regarding your first comment, that is pure gold! I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks.

Unconvinced: Thank you for your comment. It is a real pleasure to have objections raised in a civil, clear and though-provoking manner, so thank you. (I think RS and Inquisitor are being awfully hard on you!)

I think I dealt with your first objection in the article, so I will let my words there stand.

As to your second objection, I think you raise an interesting issue regarding rights pertaining to recent inventions, so let me explain my views on the issue. I think that your objection here stems from some false premises about the libertarian view of rights, which are not uncommon.

As I understand it, after the right to life, libertarianism countenances property rights as the core applicable right from which other subsidiary rights are derived. In libertarian theory there is no such thing as a direct right to vote, right to speak, right to freedom of religion, etc. All of these things are merely regarded as manifestations of property rights. Hence, you have the right to engage in religious activites or other non-aggressive activities on your own property, or with the permission of the relevant property owner; you have the right to speak on your own property or with the permission of the relevant property owner; you have the right to vote in any legitimate insitution in which the owners of the insitution grant that right. (Since I am an anarchist, and believe government to be a criminal agency, I think that the quesion of the right to vote on the composition of government is built on a false premise.)

One consequence of this view of rights is that religion need not have been invented in order for one to possess the right to freedom of religion. Since this is just a manifestation of property rights, which have existed as a valid moral prerogative since the existence of humans, all that has happened here is that a new set of activities/beliefs has been discovered, which you were entitled all along to practice (on your own property or with the permission of the relevant property owner). The same kind of reasoning applies to the so-called “right to bear arms”.

(If you want a more detailed discussion of this idea, you can find it in the works of Rand and Rothbard, who both give good accounts of natural/objective law and the derivation of rights.)

As to your third example of the right to healthcare, I will just say that the beliefs of doctors are not determinative of the correct moral principle involved. Doctors may be right, or they may be wrong, and the proper course is to proceed objectively, without regard to authority. Nor would I need (or want) to convince doctors to turn away emergency patients in order to establish to their satisfaction that healthcare is not a right. All I would need to convince them of, is the fact that they are not the slaves of their patients.

Anonymous Walter Block makes this point about the literal meaning of “social justice” quite often in his writings. I am personally not convinced that it is a good idea to try to appropriate “social justice” back to its literal meaning. I think the term is probably too far gone to be rescued (though I would be happy to be proven wrong).

sandre: Thanks for your comment; an excellent question. A free market anarchist society would prevent open nudity and sex (in many places) through the application of property rights. It would be up to people to determine the appropriate rules of conduct on their own property. Hence, since most people eschew open nudity and sex in parks, shopping centres, sporting events, and other “public” fora, the owners of these facilities would likely invoke their property rights in order to prohibit this behaviour on their property and expell those who violate their wishes.

As to the example you give on a neighbour engaging in bestiality in the front yard of his own house, I suspect that the most effective deterrent here would be public condemnation (i.e., social pressure) and boycotting of trade and association by others who are offended. Some signs put up by local shop-keepers saying “No pig-f**kers may shop here” would probably be extremely effective as a deterrent.

Nonetheless, if you are looking for a law enforcement solution, it is arguable that this would constitute a civil nuisance to nearby property owners, something that is usually regarded as a valid claim of action under libertarian law, since it interferes with the use and enjoyment of property. Rothbard talks about this in his articles on pollution. (This is a tricky issue in libertarian analysis. It hinges on the question of what exactly constitutes an interference with the use and enjoyment of property rights. Nevertheless, there are some useful articles on the subject floating around.)

Don Levitt I can’t speak for your accuracy on the income inequality figures, but they wouldn’t surprise me. However, please bear in mind that the status quo here is statism, not the free market. Many of the super-rich in our society are enriched by corporatist relations with the State (e.g., TARP, bailouts, government contracts, etc.). There is good reason to believe that a full-blown free market society would result in less income inequality, not more. To the extent that income equality would exist in the free market (and it certainly would exist), it would be due to differences in income earned through voluntary trade, rather than through pillage.

Thanks again to everyone for showing an interest in my article. Please don’t be too hard on each other; especially those who are new and may not have read as much as the rest of you!


Tom Utley March 18, 2011 at 10:40 am

Ben, this is the best article on Rights that I’ve read since the lectures Ayn Rand gave at the Ford Hall Forum. Great work.

Allen Weingarten March 17, 2011 at 6:10 am

“Genuine rights exist as eternal truths of moral philosophy.”

I agree, and for there to be a right for someone, it cannot deprive another of that same right. Thus, for you to have the right to some property, you cannot deprive another of his property. So our policy of redistributing wealth is not a right, but a wrong.

Franklin March 17, 2011 at 8:35 am

You might even find some acknowledgement from leftists that the right to one’s property is an absolute.

It’s the definition of property where it gets sticky; witness the IP dilemma; the issues of proximate risk of the meltdown catastrophe; the fetus in the womb; the noise waves entering my space; acrid odors after my foe decides to raise pigs, let alone the seemingly innocuous issue of the light spectrum coming into contact with my eyes and my former view of the distant sea waves is now obscured by the neighbor’s love of yard gnomes…..

I don’t suggest additional legislation is required for any of the above, nor that the means to manage these issues is leviathan; only that present society is configured such that most folks (the one’s we try to convince) believe that all of the above is subject to compromise and so-called “common sense.”

Don Levit March 17, 2011 at 10:21 am

This is a fascinating discussion.
Seems to me our actions finally come down to free will versus what our conscience thinks is right.
I am a believer in the unconscious as well, which certainly muddles the decision-making process.
Judaism speaks of the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, versus the yetzer tov, the good inclination.
Although Juidaism does not believe in original sin, chasidic Jews view the evil inclination as stronger than the good inclination.
Thus, we are commanded to do good deeds to better educate the evil inclination, so that it can be used for good.
There is no way to eliminate the evil inclination, just as there is no way to eliminate selfishness.
The trick is to use selfishness and the evil inclination for our benefit as well as the benefit of others.
We are social creatures, and we must live in community to bring meaning to life.
How big that community is, is one’s individual choice.

On a different note of income disparity, if 10% of the people own 85% of the financial assets, and 70% of our GDP is determined by the consumer, how is that income disparity sustainable?
Don Levit

RS March 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

I wont touch the mystical arguments of morality. All concepts that describe the world can only come from our observations of the world, inclduing the concepts of right and wrong. From that premise it follows that our free will is the choice to think or not to think, act accordingly and face the consequences.

Franklin March 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

“On a different note of income disparity, if 10% of the people own 85% of the financial assets, and 70% of our GDP is determined by the consumer, how is that income disparity sustainable?”

Your question is a non sequitur.
Who is trying to sustain income disparity?
Answer: Nobody.

To be sure, many folks are trying to sustain their level of wealth and the purchasing power leveraged by their bank account. Whether that purchasing power arises from others, who are “rich” or others who are “poor” or others who are in the “middle,” really doesn’t matter to each person. He does not seek to sustain income disparity; he seeks to sustain his lifestyle.
You are equating symptoms with causation.

Now if you believe income disparity is a problem, then why it is so stark?
What causes an ever-widening rift between the lows and highs of income distribution?
What *specifically* is causing it? At the root. From a real-world, day-in-the-life paradigm.
What is preventing the less wealthy man from garnering more wealth?
Peel it away, layer by layer.
At the end of the analysis you’ll find always, always, your friendly neighborhood bureaucrat and politician identifying what you can and cannot do with your property and your life, unless of course you grease his palm.
And that extortion becomes more expensive with each passing day.

J. Murray March 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

“85% of the financial assets”

It’s not 85% of financial assets, it’s 85% of total assets. You have to remember that most of those assets are illiquid in nature. For instance, the Willis Tower is owned by private individuals and is valued at nearly $1 billion. However, it’s impossible to redistribute this wealth as you cannot just chop up a skyscraper and hand it out to everyone.

Most of the asset portfolio valuation that goes into that 85% is completely illiquid. It includes all the machinery in manufacturing environments, computers and desks in office environments, buildings, vehicles, etc. To liquidate this and “redistribute” it would involve someone having, tada, unequal income to buy it to engage in the redistribution.

What that 85% represents is not the market liquidation value but the purchase price less depreciation (or in the case of real estate, appraisal value) of most of those assets. When boiling down all of that to actual cash flows, the disparity is far narrower. It’s intensely rare to find an individual pulling down a cash flow income of over $1 million per year. Those outsized incomes you see from hedge fund managers and others are mostly valuation changes of paper holdings. They’ll unlikely ever be able to convert that $5 billion in investment gains into $5 billion in cash as any attempts to liquidate those holdings would cause a price shock, greatly devaluing those holdings.

George Peacock March 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

It seems that the practical answer is that J. Murray firs answer and George Carlin’s observations are most relevant. You can say that this right or that right exists, but in the end, a large enough group has to believe that it is true (usually on some philosophical, inalienable, or simply desired basis) and then wrest that right from whomever would stop him/them for having the right and then continue to fight to maintain that right.

So if enough people force, say, a right to free medical care and it passes and it happens in practice, we can spend all day posting about how it’s not really a right but, in fact, it will be. And if the government comes and takes all our guns and we are left with only the theoretical right “to own a gun” but no practical means of doing it, then we are back to square one and have to get a large enough group of people to assert and gain that right back.

We have had rights gradually eroded over the past 200 years and seem, in general, not only willing to give up more to the government but sometimes even beg to do so. Weird.

Having the right to have the right to anything seems like Eric Idle in the “Life of Brian” who was a man asserting his right to have a baby, even though he hasn’t got a womb, through not fault of his own, or even the Romans.

And to add to religious issue re: punishment and shunning, I think it’s fair to say that stoning was prescribe and leaving judgement to God. Not sure when to make the call on either, but I guess if stoning is explicitly named a s punishment for an action, then stone away, and if the law is silent, leave the judgement to God.

RS March 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

this is just a roundabout way of saying that might makes right so it is useless to discuss how ideas and knowledge are gained about reality and even more useless to judge the consequences of acting on those ideas. if a majority want x then a majority wants x and reality will provide it. unfortunately the world does not work that way as death and destruction will necessarily follow the more seriously one takes this very “un”-practical view.

The Anti-Gnostic March 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Of course moral philosophy matters: it informs social norms and rules of conduct. But if your morality includes a “right” to orgies in the front yard, don’t be surprised when you leave the nudist colony and your new neighbors read their Koran, Torah, Epistles, Eightfold Path, or whatever, and conclude that no such right exists. That is where the rubber meets the road: if enough people don’t recognize your “right,” then you will have to outbid them for its protection. If they have more purchasing power than you, tough toenails. Move back to the nudist colony.

RS March 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm

the floating abstractions here are so huge its hard to understand how you dont see it.

when will people have the time to produce and trade in order to accumilate enough capital to bid on luxuries like private armies to protect them from other private armies in this “market” of war games? without the rule of law and an institutionalized way for a final arbiter to settle disputes the appeals to a “free” market of protection in the abstract boils down to an infinite regression of “appeals” to such and such arbiter but in practice it will come to which gang has the most guns and is able to “extract” the most protection money from every other gang. in other words, no different that what we have today.

The Anti-Gnostic March 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Well here’s the good news: people would rather trade than fight. So if you have marketable skills and don’t have a bunch of weird pathologies that repulse most people, then you won’t have to worry about hiring somebody to protect you from being chased out of town. Of course, that depends on where you live. I wouldn’t start a pig farm in a Muslim community, for example.

Anarchists seem to have this juvenile view that if it weren’t for government, we would all do whatever we want. In truth, it is the government which socializes the costs of behavior that, in the State’s absence, would draw the appropriate consequences. Without that big, cushy welfare safety net, people would want large families as part of retirement planning. And since single motherhood would be extremely difficult without DFCS, AFDC or pretend-jobs in government and HR departments, etc., marriage covenants would be stronger. Mutual aid societies could discriminate all they wanted, so when you come down with chronic venereal diseases and a compromised immune system from humping everything in sight, it’s your dime and not somebody else’s. All that’s kind of inconsistent with unbridled sexual practices whether you want to claim them as some kind of right or not. Same goes for heavy drug use, boozing it up every night, driving without your seat belt, etc.

Franklin March 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

“Anarchists seem to have this juvenile view that if it weren’t for government, we would all do whatever we want.”

If you refer to ancaps, I’ve never encountered a one with that view.

Colin Phillips March 18, 2011 at 5:19 am

Maybe people would just use more condoms?

Ancaps don’t think that people *would* do whatever they currently want to do (as you correctly point out, what people currently choose to do is based on a distortion of the true costs of each action), only that people *could* do whatever they wanted, if they think it’s worth it. You could go “humping everything in sight” but you would be responsible for the consequences of your actions.

That’s not to say that such practices would disappear, though. I can imagine that if there are enough people with “compromised immune systems” some entrepreneur will form a mutual aid society that doesn’t test for diseases before letting people join, but then charges a higher premium. In South Africa, because of the high incidence of HIV/AIDS, there are already companies offering life insurance and funeral plans without a medical certificate required, but if you choose to provide a medical certificate, your premiums go down.

Don Levit March 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Brian wrote:
Forcing someone to give to the poor is actually depriving them the ability to respond to God on their own and thus making their charity meaningless since it does not come from the heart.
You are correct, when referring to the most meaningful form of charity.
This is why God commanded to tithe, because He knew that people would fudge if left to their own self interests.
It is not one’s fellow man who commands; rather, it is God.
The command is made regardless of the heart.
In Judaism, we emphasize doing the good deed first; then, the heart has a chance to follow.
If you go into a corner to get your heart straight before acting, you will do a heck of a lot less good.
By the way, the maximum tithe that God commanded is 20%.
Don Levit

J. Murray March 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

“By the way, the maximum tithe that God commanded is 20%.”

Yet I’m forced to pay 43.3% between forced retirement, forced medical insurance, and forced charity.

It also doesn’t dictate the nature of charity. I find I’m being more charitable by investing in business expansion because hiring someone in a sustained job is far more beneficial to the person than giving that investment to them as a donation in cash, food, or clothing. I can help a dozen people with an investment or a third as many by handing it over to United Way.

Of course, that doesn’t alter major emergencies like what’s going on in Japan. I’ve donated to that cause because a simple business investment isn’t going to cut it.

Don Levit March 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Franklin wrote:
What is preventing the less wealthy man from garnering more wealth? Your neighborhood bureaucrat and politician, unless of course you grease his palm. And that extortion becomes more expensive each passing day.
I am curious if a lot of people agree with this?
It reminds me of a saying that “Success used to be dependent on building a better mousetrap. Now, there is a short-cut: creating a bigger loophole!”
It used to be generally accepted that knowledge is power.
Has it come down to this? That knowledge is good for its own sake, but if you want power and wealth, it’s who you know much more than what you know.
Don Levit

RS March 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Many on the left believe that wealth is a product of government, so do most Europeans. This is just a throwback to feudalism when wealth was bestowed by the king onto his subjects and aristocracy. Such a primative veiw of wealth has never really been abandoned by most people in the world so you are probably right to think that a lot of people dont agree however, the truth is the truth no matter how many people agree or disagree. Capitalims and the success of the US have exploded this fallacy, nevertheless, people still wont accept it because they think that self interest is immoral. As long as they do they will continue to believe that they are not the source of wealth but must acquire it from others, whether king, czar or senator.

Franklin March 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm

“I am curious if a lot of people agree with this?”
A few do. But most do not.
That’s why the present environment exists.

Michael May 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Ben, I think this is a fantastic article. I’ve been wanting to read something just like it for a long time.

Funeral Expenses Insurance July 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm

With the way prices on everything keep rising, its a really good idea to reevaluate how much life insurance coverage you need for burial.

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