Question for libertarians

Bryan Caplan asks conservatives: "What things that are currently illegal do you think people should be free to do?"

My answer would be a very long list. In fact, I think people should be allowed to do most things, I just think that other people should be allowed to judge said people and act on said judgments.

For example, if you want to smoke crack, I don’t really care. However I’d like people to be able to discriminate aggressively against crack-smokers. In a hypothetical world in which property rights were very strong and strongly enforced, smoking crack and sundry other things would effectively be illegal. They’d also be policed a lot better than they currently are. A lot of things that are currently legal would also probably be effectively illegal.

A truly free world would be a highly-discriminatory and highly-judgmental world.


14 Responses to Question for libertarians

  1. yacheritsi says:

    I’m a libertarian, and I concur with this position.

  2. Lester Hunt says:

    Bryan asks a “question for conservatives” and you give the libertarian answer. Question: Wha? … Doesn’t this mean he wasn’t talking to you? Second Question: How would strong property rights have the same effect as making crack illegal?

    • sconzey says:

      Whilst I think people should be allowed to smoke crack, I don’t want to, and I don’t want to be around those who do (and I *particularly* don’t want to raise children around those who do).

      In a truly Libertarian society with strong private property rights, property owners have a degree of imperium over their own property, and can make bylaws.

      Foseti and I, and I suspect many others would pay a premium to live in a private municipality where narcotics and their use were heavily regulated, if not outrightly illegal.

      Enforcement would be better because there’s so many messy incentives surrounding policing drug law. I read a news article recently describing two Baltimore cops who were sent to prison because they would shake down drug dealers, confiscate their stash, then drive around the corner and resell it.

      There is no more potent force in the world, than that of an SWPL buying a house. They already discriminate between houses based on the effectiveness of policing in the area, once municipal police are in direct competition, and their salaries depend on high house prices (and local taxation rates), the main incentive is to be effective.

    • trewq says:

      Foseti isn’t libertarian and that isn’t really the libertarian answer.

      • Lester Hunt says:

        sconzey’s explanation sounds like sound libertarian doctrine to me, right out of Ch. 10 of Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

      • Foseti says:

        Here’s one of my favorite Hoppe quotes ( ):

        “The restoration of private property rights and laissez-faire economics implies a sharp and drastic increase in social “discrimination” and will swiftly eliminate most if not all of the multicultural-egalitarian life style experiments so close to the heart of the left libertarians. In other words, libertarians must be radical and uncompromising conservatives.”

        The Chalupas may indeed get more expensive if property rights are strictly enforced.

      • Matt says:

        Foseti can answer for himself as to whether he’s a libertarian. He often claims not.

        I don’t entirely concur that property rights alone would more effectively ban crack than the state has, but I’ll admit that I have as little evidence on the question as he does, and welcome the chance to conduct an experiment and gather some actual data to go along with all the conjecture.

        But if it turns out that he’s right and I’m wrong, I’m perfectly willing to live with the results. I’m in this for personal liberty and shrinking the state, not to get some supposed “right” to avoid the consequences arising from a decision to smoke crack.

        For that matter, I disagree with the opinions most popular among self-described libertarians about the “best” answer to many, many questions of social behavior. But as long as we can agree that the only reasonable answer to “what ought to be prohibited by law?” is “only actions which expose nonconsenting parties to direct harm or imminent risk of direct harm”, we can all get along just fine in the same political movement. We don’t have to be friends to be allies.

  3. Simon says:

    lol, Lester.

    That reminds me of the time you said you’ve been trying for years to be able to think like Filmer but you hadn’t been able to. Well, it’s because you don’t want what Filmer wants that you aren’t able to, so of course it’s going to be impossible.

  4. Xamuel says:

    Your argument isn’t that smoking crack would be illegal, but that *outwardly behaving like a crackhead* would be illegal. With most drugs (not sure about crack, I’m not a drug expert), at least if they were available from pharmacies instead of from shady characters at the local dive, you can’t really tell just by looking at somebody whether they’re a user.

  5. I have seen a claim that companies that institute drug testing see productivity fall. That was, of course, used as a pro-drug argument.

    I have also seen a claim that drug testing is not actually associated with an decline in drug use by employees.

    I’d like to know how stoned you have to be in order to believe both claims (and the pro-drug conclusion of the first) simultaneously.

  6. TGGP says:

    You haven’t given a question for libertarians, just given an answer to one.

  7. Regardless of what the PREDICTED results of strong property rights would be, um, who cares? Let’s run the experiment and see what comes out, and then if Reason-and-Cato libertarians complain, you’ll know they were for the libertinism, not libertarianism.

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