An E-mail from Bob Higgs

by Don Boudreaux on May 12, 2018

in Philosophy of Freedom

In response to this recent post at Cafe Hayek, my dear friend Bob Higgs sent to me the following e-mail, shared here unedited, in full, and with Bob’s kind permission:

Hola, buenos dias, amigo.

Your entry at Cafe Hayek this morning reminded me of something that has always struck me as off base about Jim’s outlook — and Hayek’s too for that matter. They (as the terrible usage now has it) privilege the state by taking seriously the claim that a state conceivably can act in the general interest of the public. Yes, I understand that this way of proceeding, by giving latitude to the conception of one’s opponents, by taking their claims seriously, as it were, may be viewed as a way of reaching even stronger conclusions about why those claims are wrong. But it is just so counterfactual. It’s like saying, before we condemn the James Gang and its robberies and murders, let’s assume that the gang was only seeking to promote the public interest. Thus, Jim writes:

The economy that is organized on market principles effectively minimizes the number of economic decisions that must be made politically, that is, through some agency that acts on behalf of the collective unit.

It seems to me that we ought to say, more accurately, that the greater the number of people who interact peacefully and with respect for the natural rights of others, the fewer the number of decisions that “must be” made by criminals.

Anyhow, now that I have that off my chest.

Que tengas un muy buen dia.

Bob

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