Tuesday, November 15, 2005

From intervention to freedom, in several easy steps.

How do you get from the mixed economy which we presently 'enjoy' -- that is, the 'hampered market' economy in which capitalism is shackled by regulation, intervention and meddling -- to a truly free market in which governments butt out, as they should?

Tibor Machan, writing at SOLO today, suggests that
the progression from a messy mixed economy in the direction of a free one is highly unlikely to come about by way of a sudden leap. Indeed, that is very likely never going to happen, because people are very unlikely to get on board the train to liberty all at once, with equal conviction and commitment. To believe otherwise is to perpetuate that very widespread mistake best captured in the motto, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
For my own part, I've long maintained that any measure in the direction of freedom is good, just as long as there are no new impositions involved -- and as Tibor suggests, if you adopt this approach you can get people on the train to liberty one carriage at at time. Of course, it doesn't hurt to let people know what the destination looks like, why it's worth the journey, and some of the possible routes for getting there. Nathaniel Branden explains here why the journey is worth it; George Reisman gives a suggested route to take, in plenty of detail.

Linked articles:
The Hampered Market Economy - Ludwig von Mises
Gradualism Revisited - Tibor Machan
Foundations of a Free Society - Nathaniel Branden
Towards the Establishment of Laissez-Faire Capitalism - George Reisman

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Ruth said...

"I've long maintained that any measure in the direction of freedom is good..."

Well that's news to ME, and to most of your readers, I would respectfully suggest.

I'm very pleased you seem to be getting more pragmatic. I love Machan's quote "The perfect is the enemy of the good", and his article is right on the button as far as I'm concerned.

11/15/2005 05:04:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

PC: "I've long maintained that any measure in the direction of freedom is good..."

To which Ruth commented: "Well that's news to ME, and to most of your readers, I would respectfully suggest."

Well, I would hope not. I've been trying for years to point that out. Here, for example, in 'How would Libz handle coalition?'

First of all, we would declare that we would support every single measure of any party--every one--that advanced freedom by any degree, just AS LONG AS IT INVOLVED NO NEW COERCION. None. At all. Simple. And who could be against that?

This would offer certainty--absolute cast-iron assurance--to any politician themselves eager to take the state's foot off our throat, but too timid to go the whole way. And at the same time it would focus attention from politicians, media and commentators alike on what 'freedom' and 'coercion' actually look like. Have a look yourself at those links--if our support were needed, those definitions would become very well aired, and once aired the question of why ANYONE would support any coercion would become a real one. Why would they? (More on this including more links here.)

Our support would not be bought by promises of paper tigers like a 'Freedom Commission' or some such monstrosity, but only by real, concrete gains in freedom and the inexorable, ratchet-like removal of state coercion. The principled policy would over time bring about principled change.


I can recall making that same point way back in 1996 when I first started writing for The Free Radical, Scoop et al -- not that I expect anyone to have read everything I've written mind, but just to bang it home, here's me on another occasion:

How exactly should a minor party act when confronted by holding the balance of power? If they're principled and in favour of more freedom and less government, then they have no problem: they can simply say "We will support every measure that advances freedom without introducing any new coercion." And then they would do so. Such support would be reliable (as long as freedom is advanced) and consistent. Such a policy is that followed by the Costa Rican libertarian party Movimiento Libertario, who hold 5 of Costa Rica's 57 Congressional seats, and it's worked fine for them.

I explain here how the studious application of this principle would suggest that killing the entire front bench of Government in their beds would be unprincipled; and here (scroll down to 'We'll get our fair share of abuse') how this principle would rule out support for a flat tax, for educational vouchers, and for state welfare being a 'hand-up and not a hand-out.'


RUTH: "I'm very pleased you seem to be getting more pragmatic. I love Machan's quote "The perfect is the enemy of the good", and his article is right on the button as far as I'm concerned."

It is right on the button, but it's not 'pragmatic', any more than Reisman's programme to effect Laissiz-Faire is pragmatic -- it's simply putting into effect the principle or More Freedom and Less Government once ratcheted step at a time. The principle tells you the direction, and ensures against backsliding.

And I agree, the quote is brilliant, and should be on every libertarian's wall. :-)

11/15/2005 06:43:00 pm  

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