Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on December 10, 2013

in Civil Society, Hayek

… is from Mario Rizzo’s eloquent post of December 8th, over at ThinkMarkets, entitled “Let Wedding Cake Bakers Discriminate in Peace“; Mario penned this post in response to a ruling by a Colorado judge that bakers may not refuse to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples (original emphasis):

Friedrich Hayek argues in his famous essay “Why I am Not a Conservative” that conservatives and socialists alike have no principled way of dealing with people whose moral views differ from theirs. Neither of them has absorbed the true lessons of toleration. Socialists (and I would add “progressives”) argue, in effect, for the imposition of their specific collective hierarchy of values including ideas about the allocation and distribution of resources in society. Conservatives often want to impose a hierarchy  of social values including restrictions on pornography, teaching of traditional values in the public schools (“creationism”), restrictions on entry into consensual social relations (“marriage is exclusively for one man and one woman”) and so forth.

The classical liberal insistence on a society that makes maximal room for a pluralism of values starts with the insight that markets permit individuals to make decisions according to their own hierarchies of values. Markets do not insist that we all share the same goals about the use of resources. And yet, subject to a few basic general rules, we can have coordination (not homogenization) of values through the price system. You can work , for example, for Amazon to help pay for your child’s clothing while the manager in your Amazon division is saving for a flat screen TV; the executive working for Amazon may be working for a vacation while the senior-citizen stockholder of Amazon is using the appreciation of stock-value to pay for copays on his medicine. And then there are all of the different goals of those working or investing in firms that deal with Amazon. And so forth as we spread our sights through the whole complex system of market interactions.

The realities highlighted here by Mario reveal why today’s so-called “liberals” and “Progressives” are neither.  They tolerate only what they like, and illiberally advocate the use of force to stamp out that which they do not like, even when that which they do not like are peaceful activities.

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