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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 285 of Robert Higgs’s December 27th, 2012, blog post, “Freedom: Because It Works or Because It’s Right?” as this post is reprinted in Bob’s excellent 2015 volume, Taking a Stand:

If we are ever to attain a free society, we must persuade a great many of our fellows that it is simply wrong for any individuals or groups, by violence or the threat thereof, to impose their demands on others who have committed no crime and violated no one’s just rights, and that it is just as wrong for the persons who compose the state to do so as it is for you and me. In the past, the great victories for liberty flowed from precisely such an approach—for example, in the anti-slavery campaign, in the fight against the Corn Laws (which restricted Great Britain’s free trade in grains), and in the struggle to abolish legal restrictions on women’s rights to work, own property, and otherwise conduct themselves as freely as men. At the very least, libertarians should never concede the moral high ground to those who insist on coercively interfering with freedom: the burden of proof should always rest on those who seek to bring violence to bear against innocent people, not on those of us who want simply to be left alone to live our lives as we think best, always respecting the same right for others.

DBx: Yes.

Regarding so-called “protectionism,” if Jones, your next-door neighbor, shows up at your door, waves a loaded pistol in your face, and orders you to stop buying tomatoes from the farmers’ market in the next town, you’ll immediately see Jones’s action for the unjustified – indeed, evil and utterly unacceptable – aggression that it is. And you’ll not change your assessment if Jones assures you that his aggression against you, by causing you to buy more tomatoes from Johnson, a mutual neighbor who lives just across the street, will increase Johnson’s income. Nor would your assessment change if Jones gives you indisputable evidence that, in a poll that he took last Tuesday, a majority of the homeowners in the neighborhood in which you live approve of Jones waving a loaded pistol in your face and ordering you to stop buying tomatoes from the farmers’ market in the next town.

And yet, if we call Jones “government” and call the poll taken last Tuesday an “election,” then suddenly Jones’s threatened violence against you becomes “trade policy” that is an activity that should be analyzed scientifically for its costs and benefits and discussed as if it is acceptable, even appropriate, in a civilized society.