The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A response to a commenter on the blog

One reader commented on my April 10, 2012 post by saying:

2 of your 3 stated principles are in error. The government has one function only: to provide the people with an environment that is free from force, so that they can live freely… it is not a govt function to provide goods that the people can't or won't provide themselves… the gov't has no place in industry… [L]incoln was totally wrong in his statement that gov't may provide goods if it can do so at a cheaper price… that would place the gov't in direct and unfair competition with private industry.

This comment really does not refer to my post, but, as his reference to Lincoln shows, to my statement of principles at the top of the blog. The commenter is certainly entitled to his opinion, and this is an example of an extreme libertarianism that, at first glance, looks good. It would be nice if the Government could confine itself to “provid[ing] the people with an environment that is free from force, so that they can live freely.” But there are simply too many inequalities of position to make that possible. When the railroad companies, in the 1960's and even earlier, decided that they could not make a profit by running passenger trains, the Government needed to step in and create Amtrak. There was no way that a single passenger could build a new passenger rail line, buy the trains, hire the crews, and provide himself with a train ride from one city to another. When an individual (or an individual company) has such a control of resources that, on its own, it can either refuse to provide a product or service or simply price it at a prohibitive rate, and the consumers of that product have no alternative than to go without it, it makes sense for Government to step in. I do not want Government to compete with private industry “unfairly.” But it is not really unfair if the private company refuses to provide a product, although it is able to do so. (And if it cannot make a profit providing that product at a reasonable price, it should welcome Government's stepping in!)

The poster of that comment differs from me. That much is clear. But one freedom we still have is to express our opinions on our respective blog pages. I hope he will accept that I have as much of a right to express my opinions as he does; and after all, he has two separate blogs of his own. We disagree, but let us be civil about it. Statements like “2 of your 3 stated principles are in error” and “[L]incoln was totally wrong” go overboard; all he has a case for saying is that in his opinion, that is so. And I disagree.

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