Showing posts from April, 2010

Raimondo on “Airtight Borders”

AntiWar.Com is arguably the libertarian movement’s single most valuable contribution to political debate around the world. I am proud to be a donor to and occasional copywriter for the site. And Justin Raimondo ’s unapologetically libertarian columns for the site are among its most obvious assets. Justin is consistently hard-hitting, well-informed, and willing to take on sacred cows with little hesitation. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his books about the life and thought of Murray Rothbard and, even though I’m a leftist, the anti-imperialist heritage of American conservatism . I’m a big fan of Justin and his work. But I wish he hadn’t taken the position he did in his recent column, “ South of the Border ,” available here . (Raimondo’s AntiWar.Com colleagues respond here .) Addressing the problem of drug-related violence along the US-Mexico border, he fails to discuss the obvious and crucial role of drug prohibition in creating and exacerbating this violence. And he treats the sta

More on Machan

Even as I beg to differ with Tibor Machan regarding benefit corporations, I think he's done quite a fine job of responding to Ted Honderich's charge that a libertarian society would be morally abominable here . In essence, Honderich moves much too quickly from the claim that, in a libertarian society, it would not be viewed as just for the state (or any other entity) to take responsibility for redistributing income to economically vulnerable people to the conclusion that no one would in such a society would acknowledge any moral obligation to redistribute income to economically vulnerable people. It is perhaps not altogether surprising that the impermissibility of the use of force here would seem trivial and irrelevant to Honderich, an occasional apologist for political violence . It is disappointing, however, that Honderich, a capable philosopher, can’t see the difference between “I am morally obligated to perform action action A (or one of a class of actions of which A is a

Machan on Benefit Corporations

I confess some puzzlement. In a recent column , Tibor Machan voices his dismay at the fact that “in several states across the U.S.A.—among them California, Vermont, Maryland and others—politicians have created, by legislation, “benefit corporations” in which managers may proceed to do pro bono work without having to answer to shareholders whose resources are being used for this.” He goes on: Normally if managers mis-allocate company resources, they could be sued by the owners for malpractice but with this law they will become immune. The only recourse by shareholders will be to sell their stocks and of course these stocks will have lost a goodly portion of their value given that the company isn’t committed to making a profit any longer; nor does the management have to answer to the owners for abandoning this task. Then, he offers a parade of horribles—doctors who ignore their patients in favor of non-paying clients, teachers who fail to grade students’ papers because they “must pro

Stossel’s Myths

Nathan Goodman called my attention to this recent piece by John Stossel: “Myths about Capitalism: Confronting the Biggest Lies about American Business.” I can’t resist commenting. 1. Capitalism is mostly cruel and unfair Notice that the subtitle of Stossel’s article suggests that “capitalism” is synonymous with “American business.” Genuinely freed markets are not mostly cruel and unfair. But I think it’s a stretch to assume that the same is true of big businesses that operate with all sorts of privileges from the state and that benefit from a long history of injustice and dispossession . Big business in America does not enjoy its power and privilege in virtue of a freed market, and there is no reason to think business leaders desire a freed market. The cruelty and unfairness of big business—at home and abroad—may have little to do with free(d) markets, but they’re systemic features of “capitalism”—if by that term is meant “rule by capitalists” or “the economic system we ha