Jewish World Review Sept. 21, 2011 / 22 Elul, 5771
Tyranny of the Typical
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | And now let us recall the "Fable of the Shoes."
In his 1973 "Libertarian Manifesto," the late
"So identified has the State become in the public mind with the provision of these services," Rothbard laments, "that an attack on State financing appears to many people as an attack on the service itself." The libertarian who wants to get the government out of a certain business is "treated in the same way as he would be if the government had, for various reasons, been supplying shoes as a tax financed monopoly from time immemorial."
If everyone had always gotten their shoes from the government, writes Rothbard, the proponent of shoe privatization would be greeted as a kind of lunatic. "How could you?" defenders of the status quo would squeal. "You are opposed to the public, and to poor people, wearing shoes! And who would supply shoes ... if the government got out of the business? Tell us that! Be constructive! It's easy to be negative and smart-alecky about government; but tell us who would supply shoes? Which people? How many shoe stores would be available in each city and town? ... What material would they use? ... Suppose a poor person didn't have the money to buy a pair?"
It's worth keeping this fable in mind as the reaction to last week's CNN-Tea Party Express debate hardens into popular myth. Moderator
At this point, a few boneheads in the audience shouted "yeah!" and clapped, though liberal pundits and activists imagine they saw an outpouring of support.
Paul calmly replied that he's not in favor of letting the man die. A physician who practiced before
Still, it's amazing how quickly status quo bias kicks in. Since the 1960s, it has become a given not only that the government should be more involved in areas like health care and poverty but that these problems remain intractable because the government has not gotten more involved. That's the premise behind so many of the anti-libertarian questions at the
Well, let's do just that for a moment.
Blitzer's specific error was to use "society" and "government" as interchangeable terms. People need shoes. But that doesn't require the government to provide shoes for everyone. Similarly, poverty rates should go down. But does that mean it's the government's responsibility?
Maybe the answer is yes. But if it is, the burden of proof that the government can do better than "society" should fall on those who, in effect, want the government to win the future by "investing" in shoes -- rather than on those of us who are open to the idea of turning back the clock.
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