Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman

The Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman

The central idea of libertarianism is that people should be permitted to run their own lives as they wish.

Those who wished to live communally could set up their own communes.  But nobody would have a right to force his way of life upon his neighbor.

...the institutions of private property are the machinery of freedom...

... private property is the central institution of a free society.

The desire of several people to use the same resources for different ends is the essential problem that makes property institutions necessary.  The simplest way to resolve such a conflict is physical force.  If I can beat you up,  I get to use the car. This method is very expensive.... The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations.

The function of politics is to reduce the diversity of individual ends to a set of "common ends".

Under any institutions, there are essentially only three ways that I can get another person to help me achieve my ends: love, trade, and force.

It was only when most workers were already down to a ten-hour day that it became politically possible to legislate one.

How does the AMA control the number of doctors ?  Refusing to license doctors after they are trained would create a great deal of hostility among those rejected; that would be politically expensive. Instead, it relies mainly on the medical schools.

The word "need" should be eliminated from the vocabulary of public discourse.  It is inextricably bound up withe a dangerous oversimplification of reality -- the idea that there exist certain values infinitely more important than all others, things I need, rather than merely want, and that these "needs" can be determined objectively.

There is a simple solution.  Governments should subsidize schooling instead of schools.

Departments in a university that reaches corporate decisions in important matters will tend to become groups of true believers, closed to all who do not share the proper orthodoxy.  They so forfeit one of the principal tools in the pursuit of truth -- intellectual conflict.

Local politicians might be skeptical of the value of a mass transit system whose construction failed to siphon billions of dollars through their hands.

This is the cost, not of addiction, but of laws prohibiting narcotics.  Addicts commit virtually no crimes while actually high on narcotics; they have neither the will nor, usually, the ability.  They steal to pay for the next fix.  If legal, narcotics would cost a small fraction of their present price, and few addicts would have to engage in large-scale crime to pay the costs, just as few alcoholics do.

Nobody, except a few Brahmins in Delhi and two or three Trotskyites in New York, still believes that the earthly paradise can be achieved by nationalizing General Motors and turning the corner grocery store over to the Mayor's office.

Compulsory puritanism -- crimes without victims.

In spite of popular myths about capitalism oppressing the poor, the poor are worse off in those things provided by the government, such as schooling, police protection and justice.  There are more good cars in the ghetto than good schools.  Putting protection on the market would mean better protection for the poor, not worse.

Most varieties of socialism implicitly assume unanimous agreement on goals.

I do not like paying taxes, but I would rather pay them to Washington than to Moscow -- the rates are lower.


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