Monday, April 30, 2012

Libertarian Response

No Libertarian believes that people should be able to "do as they please." That is a misrepresentation of the philosophy of freedom libertarians hold. A more correct way of stating this philosophy is " I should be able to do what I please AS LONG AS I do not violate the property rights of others." Frank again does a poor job of characterizing this philosophy.

I applaud his reference to the contributions of Coase and he does a fair job of presenting the typical case for Pigovian taxes. But he perhaps needs to go further on government failure and less on "market failure."

As far as workplace safety or perhaps even smoking in restaurants (where employees and patrons are harmed), who typically gets forgotten is the property owner. In a true market economy, a restaurant owner would decide his or her own policy and it would be up to the employees (or potential employees) and people who are hungry to work/eat there or not. (see my essay "Smoking an Property Rights" on

Again, workplace regulations do NOT rob me of my personal freedom IF it is the employer who is making the rules. It is when the government (i.e., OSHA) forces safety regulations that libertarians get heated. And even if his point that higher taxes on the most prosperous members of society will not make the economic pie smaller, it still does not justify it on moral/normative grounds.

All in all, I was glad to read this book by a well-known economist. It is important to read a variety of books and become familiar with a diverse range of opinions.

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