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Am I a legal, government-sanctioned thief?

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By Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog

As part of an ongoing debate over the morality of the nation's immigration barriers at a Marine veterans' website that I am a member of, I made the following decision graph. I think it's important to name the aims of those who support protectionist quotas to free trade in an open market, and given the response of the pro-barrier side, it has elicited exactly the response I expected:

steadfast evasion.

(Click the image to enlarge).

Am-I-a-legal-thief-copy.jpg198846707

http://ObjectivismOnline.com/archives/003073.html

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When I was the CFO of a large European manufacturer and repairer of elevators, I was a " legal, government sanctioned thief". The contracts that we signed with our customers were based on the fact that our certificate was required for them to operate an elevator in their building, which would be used by the public. We made money from this business as you can imagine. The government safety regulations permitted us to obtain a better price than we would otherwise have done. This is undeniable.

However, this being said, I'd like to pose a further question. To what extent can it be said to be government's obligation to ensure that transport facilities open to the public should be reasonably safe? I know the ideal is for every operator to see his/her best benefit in providing some level of competent safety, but what about the irresponsible ones? Do the unnecessary accidents matter? Should one prosecute the irresponsible only after an injury or death occurs?

Janet

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When I was the CFO of a large European manufacturer and repairer of elevators, I was a " legal, government sanctioned thief". The contracts that we signed with our customers were based on the fact that our certificate was required for them to operate an elevator in their building, which would be used by the public. We made money from this business as you can imagine. The government safety regulations permitted us to obtain a better price than we would otherwise have done. This is undeniable.

However, this being said, I'd like to pose a further question. To what extent can it be said to be government's obligation to ensure that transport facilities open to the public should be reasonably safe? I know the ideal is for every operator to see his/her best benefit in providing some level of competent safety, but what about the irresponsible ones? Do the unnecessary accidents matter? Should one prosecute the irresponsible only after an injury or death occurs?

Janet

I do not mean to answer for RofR, but I suggest that the threat of lawsuit would insure that companies act responsibly. It may seem harsh to "allow people to be hurt or injured" but first it would have to be established that government regulations actually do what you say that they do. Namely prevent deaths and injuries more then would otherwise occur.

I have worked in construction most of my life and have had to contend with osha regulations. In this case, since their establishment in the early 70's there has been no significant decrease in the percentage of injuries or deaths in an catagory. What is more, from personal experience, every injury I have had and every one I have witnessed, without exception has been the result of attempting to apply a one size fits all approach to unique circumstances because of the regulations. They have however accomplished their actual goal of stealing large amounts of wealth, putting many companies out of business or in dire economic straights in the process.

I am strongly in favor of allowing the market and courts to regulate the economy. To do otherwise only causes immoral wealth transfer and stifles innovation.

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To elaborate on what AequalsA said, a free-market system does not imply a system without such third-party quality-control agencies. Many such quality-control activities will probably be mandated under insurance contracts.

Therefore, as free-market system is less "pro-active" than one policed by government agencies. I think one could even make a case that the government agencies would typically be more reactive than pro-active.

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