Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘The End Of Unions?’

Full piece here.

Maybe, maybe not, but Epstein makes a principled case for Michigan’s recent right-to-work bill.

Libertarians who only see liberty from where they sit, and the growth of big government and big labor since the New Deal, might need to make a better case for their cause to the public, Epstein argues (libertarians tend to rise in opposition to particularly liberal administrations):

‘The call for limited government doesn’t start with the radical proposition to disband the army, fire the police, or close public highways. Rather, it relies on the theory of public, or collective, goods. The sound theory of limited government uses the state to provide those essential public goods that ordinary individuals, acting either alone or in combination, cannot supply for themselves in voluntary markets.’

He finishes with:

‘Political leaders can be expected to hold back their punches to get legislation through. But the job of independent intellectuals is to offer principled defenses of these legislative changes in order to maintain the long-term coherence of, in my case, libertarian thought, which is needed to make future labor market reforms possible.’

Click through for a good defense against unions when laws are used to protect them, as they become an industrial cartel free-riding on the public good.   That’s the line to draw, Epstein suggests.

Many people, quite frankly, find the moral case for government involvement in basic services compelling (taking people’s money involuntarily and promising to do things that voluntarily people would not do, nor do enough of).  They are well aware that people are self-interested, sometimes selfish, and that there’s plenty of suffering and scarcity in the world.

Libertarians might find it hard to believe that to many Americans, the slippery slope argument fails, even if you point out that the slope can often involve free riding, inefficiencies, crony capitalism, reduced employment, reduced consumer choice and ultimately reduced economic and political liberty for all Americans.  The system, for them, is solid, and functioning pretty well.

Obamacare supporters, in fact, point out the inefficiencies of our current health-care delivery system, the waste, the downsides of ‘the profit motive’ (as though it won’t be central going forward) as they argue that health-care is a fundamental right and function of the government.

Pointing out that modern liberalism isn’t like the old classical liberalism also sounds extreme to many Americans.  The case will need to be made, solidly and reasonably, of the dangers already in our culture and institutions.  Libertarians, as skeptically as they are viewed by conservatives, have a good handle on the faith that modern progressivism has in reason and the interests many modern liberals have in growing the State, and what can occur in the wake of that faith and those interests to freedom, opportunity, and the human spirit.

See also: Free riding in Canada, and threats to free speech when a Human Rights Commision acts like a kind of quasi-court: Update And Repost: ‘A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant’

Related On This Site:  Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

The anarchic tradition on this site:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”… …Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeLink To Lew Rockwell Via A ReaderRepost-Two Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’…minimal state…Repost-Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’..Still fighting the battles of the 60′s…? A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”…Catholic libertarianism: Youtube Via Reason TV-Judge Napolitano ‘Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Government is Dangerous’

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Categories: Current Events, Economics, Law, Philosophy, Public Debate

Author:chr1

An independent blogger seeking to discuss deeply while keeping an open mind. I'm mostly on the right, but living in Seattle I have to think about what that means on a daily basis. I like to read philosophy.

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