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Everything posted by JeffS

  1. I think what you're saying is that once someone commits fraud, that stops being part of the LF economy, therefore a government dealing with someone who breaks the law wouldn't be a government interferring in an LF economy. I can understand this, but it doesn't change the fact that the government's laws exist regardless of whether the economy is LF or not. That is, the very fact that the laws exist constitutes an interference in the market. Laws don't come into existence once someone breaks them, they exist at all times - even when no one is breaking them and the market is operating as LF.
  2. No, I'm afraid I don't. Imagine a society with no laws. Everyone in the society acts as if there is a law against murder, even though there is not. A couple new people move in who don't understand ending someone else's life is against their own self-interests, and they commit some murders. What should happen to prevent this kind of thing from happening again? Perhaps some laws should be made. Perhaps a law should be written that says, "If you kill someone else, you will be put to death." Force is initiated at this precise moment. The government is saying, in effect, "Don't kill anyone, or we will kill you." If someone commits murder, and the government then kills that person, I understand that is not an initiation of force - that is retaliation, and the proper use of force by government. But that is not when the force began. Nor, did force begin when the murderer committed his crime. The force began when the government said, "Do X, or we'll do Y." Trust me, I really wish I did. Are threats not force? If you agree the government threatened to use force, then why is government not initiating force?
  3. I still don't see how this is any different from a mugger's ultimatum. The mugger says, "Do X, or I'll do Y." The government says, "Do X, or we'll do Y." Nothing forces me to comply with the mugger, nothing forces me to comply with the government. If you say, "The mugger is initiating the force by giving you the ultimatum." Why isn't the government initiating force by giving you an ultimatum?
  4. No, I'm not looking for how to distinguish good law from bad, or how to tell when the use of force is justified. Why does the government not have a choice in making law? There's nothing naturally mandatory in the existence of laws; individuals choose to create laws.
  5. Agreed. I don't think this is actually what I meant. This argument sounds a little like, "People who have nothing to hide, have nothing to worry about when the government spies on them." Regardless if someone follows the law by choice, the coercion to follow it still exists. I'm not sure how you got here. Why isn't the government coercing anyone if it's telling them, "Don't use force (, or else!)" Okay, then why don't we say a mugger is preventing any misunderstandings from arising later on by informing me of the "rules" of interacting with him? Indeed. But not all people think of their rational self-interests.
  6. I'm obviously not being very clear. Please, allow me to try again. My argument is that, in order to safeguard a laissez-faire capitalist market and economy, laws against the initiation of force must exist. But laws are an initiation of force. If you started with a blank slate, and wanted to create a society with laissez-fair capitalism, you would first have to create laws which protect that capitalism. The individuals in the society would not have initiated force in any way, yet the government's first action would be to say, in effect, "Follow the rules, or something bad will happen to you." Which is coercion. Yes, if someone breaks a law and the government uses force against them in retaliation, that is not an initiation of force. But that's not when the force began. The force began, was initiated, when the government threatened the citizens with force if they failed to comply with the laws. At first, I considered this to simply be an issue of consequences. You are free to break the law, but you are not free to escape the consequences of going to jail, or paying a fine. Therefore, a law is not force - it merely tells what the consequences are if action is taken; like when the doctor tells you, "Continue to smoke and you'll die in a year." This is not a threat, simply a statement of fact - cause and effect. But that argument falls apart when used in the case of a mugger and his victim. Is the mugger's demand of, "Give me your money or die" simply a statement of fact - cause and effect? Or is it force?
  7. Thank you all, so much, for replying. I hope you don't mind if I reply to you all in one post. Nate T. - How would the existence of laws not be an initiation of force? Suppose a man approaches you on the street and says, "Hand over your money or I'll kill you." This is clearly an initiation of force. He's giving you a false choice. Sure, you could choose to let him kill you, but you'd rather not. Your hand is forced. Now, suppose there's a law which says, "If you sell a product that doesn't do what you claim it does, the government will take your money." This would be protection against fraud (which isn't allowed in laissez-faire capitalism). Undoubtably, there are people out there who would like to sell products that don't do what they claim they do. In such cases, the government is initiating force in much the same way the mugger is: the government is providing a false choice. People would rather sell products which don't do what they claim to do, but because of the law they do not. I don't think this is a true Objectivist point of view, is it? It can't be rational to argue "might makes right." I should have been more specific. I meant in cases where there is mal-intent or negligence. For example, suppose someone sells arsenic as the cure all for cancer. They know it's arsenic, they know it will kill people. Would laissez-faire simply let this man walk? For those I didn't reply to specifically, I think I covered your questions above. If I didn't, please let me know.
  8. Laws would interfere in the economy. For example, if a business's product kills someone, it's reasonable to prosecute the company's executives for murder. The threat of the force (among other things) would cause the company to make a product which doesn't kill people.
  9. I'm having a problem reconciling laissez-faire capitalism with the existence of any government at all. If laissez-faire capitalism means no government interference, then the only way laissez-faire capitalism could exist is in an anarchy. Laws are a form of coercion, coercion is a form of force, therefore government laws interfere in the market - they coerce people to act a certain way, therefore laissez-faire capitalism could only exist in a society with no laws - i.e. anarchy. Has anyone reasoned a way out of this problem?
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