Friday, July 6

A humility for intervening in the lives of strangers

Russ Roberts writes from the perspective of fan of liberty, opposed to extensive government intervention.
Those on the other side of the spectrum of government intervention often lack this humility. They claim to know what is best for others–what they should eat, how they should behave in the bedroom, whether they purchase health insurance, and what is the best use of other people’s money. When these plans go awry, when they cause harm to those they would help, they fall back on their motives–after all, they meant well...

So my opposition to a minimum wage or government schools or agricultural price supports or bank bailouts or mandatory health insurance or mandatory retirement contributions or mandatory eating habits doesn’t come from my selfishness or greed. Rather it comes from respect for my fellow human beings and a belief (not a faith) that leaving people free to choose what is best for themselves usually works out better than strangers making decisions for them.
Contrast this with the attitude expressed in an old news item about a brothel case: "....regardless of whether these women were actively trafficked, they are still being exploited and these operations degrade the quality of life in our neighborhoods." Although the women were entirely willing to work as prostitutes and it's unlikely anyone polled the neighbors, government interventionists knew better.

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