Libertarians, Parts 3 and 4

Part 3 – Is private property legitimate? Teemu argues against private property in two ways:

  • First      he argues that if someone simply inherits property that’s not fair.
    • But      it was a voluntary transaction, and
    • Someone      “unfairly” having property he didn’t earn doesn’t harm anyone else
  • Second      he argues many people have property not from non-coercive success at      business but from inheriting it long ago when people did acquire the land      unfairly
    • I      argue this is patently not true for the vast majority of land, at least      in Canada.

I do concede that many libertarians treat private property as the end, not the means to an end.  I don’t elaborate far enough to think of examples of this, however.

Part 4 - An attack on the concept of the “self-made man” and its implications to Libertarianism

Teemu describes examples from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers to support his argument that the self-made man is a myth, and in fact everyone is the product of favourable circumstances or genetics.  Therefore we can’t sit back and not care that the poor remain poor, comforted by the view that they are simply lazy and didn’t try hard enough.

I argue that of course if you drill down deeply enough, you will be able to identify the physical causes of why one person succeeded while another didn’t.  That doesn’t mean we can’t draw the line at some point and declare that what lies past the line constitutes what we mean by a person’s “free will”.

In my view, our thinking on this subject should progress in stages:

Stage 1: A belief in “hard meritocracy” (Teemu’s phrase), where we don’t care if people are poor or not, because if they are they must not have tried hard enough.

Stage 2: An Outliers-influenced belief that no one is responsible for their circumstances, and therefore we must intervene to help all those with poor initial circumstances

Stage 3: We draw a line where we define “free will”, and help people up to this line (perhaps through charity).  Past it, we accept that people can be lazy if they want to!

To attempt to “assist” people out of their desire to drink beer, watch wrestling on TV, and other things you define as bad thoughts and desires is to destroy our humanity.  What makes us human is all our imperfections, I think.