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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 23 of Tulane University philosopher Eric Mack’s excellent 2018 book, Libertarianism [2] (original emphasis; the internal quotation is from David Hume):

The first principle of justice that enables us to escape from this anti-cooperative quagmire and at least achieve peaceful co-existence is “the stability of possessions,” which forbids the seizure of other people’s holdings. General compliance with this principle assures individuals that they will enjoy the fruits of their own labor and that they had better engage in productive labor because the options of seizing the fruits of others’ labor has been ruled out. The anticipation of this compliance enormously increases everyone’s incentive to live by production and not by predation.

DBx: Widespread acceptance of this principle is among the most fundamental requirements of any society whose members are to rise above subsistence – indeed, whose members are to form anything deserving the name “society.” And both society and prosperity become greater the more fully, and the more as a matter of principle (rather than of convenience), this principle is followed.

Strict adherence to this principle alone ensures that no human being lives parasitically on any other or others. And it virtually guarantees that humans spontaneously form productive, intricate, unplanned, and ever-deepening and expanding networks – “catallaxies [3]” – of peaceful human cooperation [4]. After all, if you want to prosper from the efforts of others, you must – under this principle – enable others to prosper from your efforts and to do so in ways that they affirm.

When you seek to prosper from the efforts of others, the productivity to you of others’ efforts is judged by you (in the form of you voluntarily paying for the fruits of those efforts) and the productivity to others of your efforts is judged by the others with whom you choose to deal (in the form of them voluntarily paying for the fruits of your efforts).

This intricate system of productive social cooperation is an outcome that is not to be sneezed at, and it cannot be brought about or sustained in the absence of widespread adherence to this principle.

Yet the vast bulk of political demands and actions violate this principle. “Punitively tax fellow citizens who buy imports!” “Seize income from some fellow citizens to better enable other fellow citizens to export!” “Smith has too much wealth: seize it and ‘redistribute’ it to Jones!” “Jackson doesn’t want to move from the town he’s lived in for many years, but he himself doesn’t wish to pay the cost of indulging this preference; he wants taxpayers to pay for his indulgence of this preference. So compel taxpayers to pay the requisite sum to Jackson! Oh, and in addition, portray the rich who pay the taxes as greedy and unproductive villains, while portraying Jackson as a noble and productive victim.”

Dangerous and deeply anti-social attitudes.

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