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Two Reports in Today’s Washington Post

Here are two reports featured prominently today on the website of the Washington Post.  The first involves a famous man proposing to forcibly take money from others.  The second involves a famous man proposing to engage in voluntary, consensual, peaceful, and mutually advantageous exchange.

The first man will not be arrested for his offense or suspended from his job; indeed, many people will applaud him for the imaginary benefit that his proposal allegedly will bestow on society.  The second man was arrested and suspended from his job for the imaginary harm that his proposal allegedly inflicts on society.

How perverse.

UPDATE: Here’s a letter that I just sent to the Washington Post:

Two reports in your pages today stand in sharp and sad contrast to each other. According to the first, a famous man proposed to forcibly take money from other people; according to the second, a famous man proposed to peacefully exchange his own money for a service rendered voluntarily by another person. Yet unlike the man in the second report, the man in the first was neither arrested nor suspended from his high-profile job for his actions.

How is it that Barack Obama in calling for higher taxes on ‘the rich’ – that is, advocating the forcible taking of other people’s stuff – is celebrated and feted for his actions (“Obama to seek billions in new taxes on wealthy”), while Greg Anthony in calling for a call girl – that is, peacefully offering to pay his own money to a woman to voluntarily have sex with him – is arrested and suspended from his job (“D.C. police arrest CBS sports commentator Greg Anthony in prostitution sting”)?

This state of affairs is perverse.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030