Posted by Brad @ 11:43 am on September 21st 2011

“The Tyranny of the Typical”

Jonah Goldberg revisits an old, but very good, fable from Murray Rothbard, in the context of Ron Paul’s point on health insurance in the last debate, and the stunted nature of civic imagination that leads to build-in-prejudices against any attempts to challenge the status quo. I think it’s a point that’s almost intuitive for a lot of libertarians, but not-at-all for those that look at them from the outside as just foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics.

“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?”

In other words, “WHY ARE YOU ANTI-SHOE?!?!”

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