The Machinery of Freedom - Let the Free Market Do What Government Has Loused Up for Centuries

Posted by freedomforall 10 months ago to Books
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"Preface to the first edition

My political views seem natural and obvious — to me. Others find them peculiar. Their peculiarity consists largely of carrying certain statements, familiar enough in political oratory, to their natural conclusions.

I believe, as many say they believe, that everyone has the right to run his own life — to go to hell in his own fashion. I conclude, as do many on the left, that all censorship should be done away with. Also that all laws against drugs — marijuana, heroin, or Dr. Quack's cancer cure — should be repealed. Also laws requiring cars to have seat belts.

The right to control my life does not mean the right to have anything I want free; I can do that only by making someone else pay for what I get. Like any good right winger, I oppose welfare programs that support the poor with money taken by force from the taxpayers.

I also oppose tariffs, subsidies, loan guarantees, urban renewal, agricultural price supports — in short, all of the much more numerous programs that support the not-poor — often the rich — with money taken by force from the taxpayers — often the poor.

I am an Adam Smith liberal, or, in contemporary American terminology, a Goldwater conservative. Only I carry my devotion to laissez faire further than Goldwater does — how far will become clear in the following chapters. Sometimes I call myself a Goldwater anarchist.

These peculiar views of mine are not peculiar to me. If they were, I would be paying Harper and Row to publish this book, instead of Harper and Row paying me. My views are typical of the ideas of a small but growing group of people, a ’movement' that has begun to attract the attention of the national media. We call ourselves libertarians.

This book is concerned with libertarian ideas, not with a history of the libertarian 'movement' or a description of its present condition. It is fashionable to measure the importance of ideas by the number and violence of their adherents. That is a fashion I shall not follow. If, when you finish this book, you have come to share many of my views, you will know the most important thing about the number of libertarians — that it is larger by one than when you started reading."

The book aims to show that law and its enforcement do not require a state, but can be sustained by non-coercive private enterprise and charity. It explores the consequences of libertarian thought, describes examples of stateless society (such as the Icelandic Commonwealth), and offers the author's personal statement about why he became a libertarian. Topics addressed in the book include polycentric law, and the provision of public goods (such as military defense) in a stateless society. Friedman argues that a stateless legal system would be beneficial for society as a whole, including the poor.

While some books supporting similar libertarian and anarcho-capitalist views offer evidence in terms of morality or natural rights, Friedman (although he explicitly denies being a utilitarian)here argues largely in terms of the effects of his proposed policies.

Friedman conjectures that anything done by government costs at least twice as much as a privately provided equivalent.He offers examples as evidence, such as a comparison of the cost of the U.S. Postal Service's costs for package delivery with the costs of private carriers and the cost of the Soviet government versus market based services in the West.

Also available on amazon and many used book sites online if you want to remunerate David Friedman for his work.

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  • Posted by Lucky 10 months ago
    Related, reading the SpectatorUK I see that in the UK recently some local governments have gone bankrupt, or similar with special court ordered financial arrangements. These include some medium size towns, and some big cities.
    You will probably guess- increasing welfare and diminishing tax revenue - correct, but the big problem is from big speculative developments, real estate schemes, that have failed!

    Predictable? First spend on the needy, them help the deserving poor, then on the poor, then on the undeserving poor. Of the spending of other people's money there is no end, then they give money to their mates, then to themselves.
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    • Posted by 10 months ago
      And to retail developments whose construction couldn't be justified in the free market.
      Witness all the now empty, deteriorating once grand malls mostly in blue cities.
      And to grand sports stadiums to replace aging but repairable historic stadiums.
      Morons running Atlanta demolished the 70's Braves stadium for the Olympic
      baseball stadium in the 90's, then wasted tax money to build yet another
      replacement 20 years later. Meanwhile Atlanta still hasn't fixed the sewers
      or the surface streets needing repaving since the 90's. Fools.
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