Cue Card Libertarianism - Laissez Faire

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Sun, 2006-05-21 02:37

Laissez-faire: Literally, leave/let to make or do; denotes the policy of non-intervention by government in the economy, an obvious application of the libertarian non-initiation of force principle.

The term originates from the despotic reign of King Louis XIV who had grandiose ambitions for France and believed that only through the state could they be achieved. His chief adviser, Colbert, a 17th century French version of Sir Robert Muldoon or Jim Anderton, believed that he could manage and control his way to national prosperity and duly regulated everything in sight. Meeting one day with a group of industrialists, he asked them what more he could do for them. One of the industrialists, a man rejoicing in the name Legendre, replied: “Laissez-nous faire!” -- “Leave us alone!”

Opponents of laissez-faire typically attribute to it the results of interventionism (the woes of the New Zealand and Californian electricity industry being a classic example) and then proceed to demand more intervention to repair the results of the ealier meddling – thereby, if they are successful, compounding the problems by further distorting the natural ebb and flow of supply and demand. New Zealand’s economic difficulties that came to a head in the Muldoon years arose from precisely this type of acquiescence to the demands of lobby groups seeking favours.

For decades farmers, unions, and business interests jostled for domination of government’s agenda, all meeting with considerable success at different times, always to the ultimate detriment of the economy. The solution to domination of the government by one group is not domination by another. Those who feel that Big Business and the current government are too cosily intertwined, for example, should realise that, even if that were true, the answer is not simply to effect a change of partner, but to disentangle government from all sectors of the economy altogether. Corporate welfare is as wrong as 'social' welfare.

Let's be clear: Advocates of laissez-faire are opposed to government collusion with any pressure group. Advocates of laissez-faire propose a complete and constitutional separation between the state and the economy, in the same way and for similar reasons as the separation of church and state, believing that only in this way can governments be prevented from playing favourites and confined to their legitimate function – protecting the rights of individuals.

This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here. The 'Cue Cards' will be published as a set at the completion of the series.

TAGS: Cue_Card_Libertarianism, Economics, Libertarianism, Politics, Politics-NZ


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I understand Ayn

Burnsy's picture

I understand Ayn Rand believes that "The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use,.."


What does Ayn Rand have to say about The Government's policeman role in retaliation to other forms of force?

Property rights

Burnsy's picture

Thanks.

When you deposit some money into a bank account you do so on the basis your property rights are not forfeited.

Or if you took some seedlings to a nursery and paid them to raise the plant into a tree or shrub (for you alone) the same principle applies.

If the sperm doner father and pregnant women entered into a joint agreement/contract for either the delivery of a new born baby or even the production of saleable feotal tissue (irrespective of who paid the money or if it's joint or individual ownership) prior to the impregnation then it would seem the same logic would apply.

I.e the sperm donor has NOT forfieited his property rights.

Burnsy

Kasper's picture

You raise an interesting hypothetical. I think there could be several different answers as to who owns the sperm once it has left his body. Consistent with the idea of property rights a women should have the right to her own body, even if pregnant, and so I think it's appropriate that she remain sovereign over keeping/aborting the foetus.

However, you could challenge that the male is entitled to some rights too, after-all it is his sperm. The only problem I could forsee there is that if the male's right to his sperm hasn't been forfeighted by the time it arrives in her body, he then has a claim over her body and she effectively becomes a slave in some respects. Slavery is against property rights.

Burnsy

reed's picture

Burnsy -
Those questions are abortions.

Property ownership

Burnsy's picture

I'm grateful for you pointing out "simply recognising property ownership gives the correct moral answers".

If it is indeed about that, how then, am I to find the correct moral answer to the following question concerning property ownership rights?

I.e What property rights does a father have over the product of his own efforts that he has contributed towards the creation of a feotus (e.g selling his sperm and physical effort) so that he (the father himself) can better secure his very own self determination?

If such a father has unequivocal moral rights to such property (product of his own body and efforts) then what remedy should the "only moral economic system" provide to the father if such property rights (including any rights he may be entitled to in order to sell the feotal tissue on the open market) are violated against his free will (e.g by way of abortion)?

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

Surely, simply recognising property ownership gives the correct moral answers.

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's. Innocent

My quest is merely for an

reed's picture

My quest is merely for an economic system that is indeed irrefutably superior (in a moral sense) to all others.

Why are you looking for a economic system?
Surely, simply recognising property ownership gives the correct moral answers.

Apologies

Burnsy's picture

My apologies IF I give the wrong impression that I want to defer to something that merely "works". My quest is merely for an economic system that is indeed irrefutablely superior (in a moral sense) to all others. If such an economic system does exist then seeing it's application in real life could help prove whether or not it is indeed the only moral one.

The Unknown Ideal

Richard Goode's picture

Laissez-faire capitalism is the only moral economic system.

You want to replace it with (or keep in place) something that "works"? Euphemistically, that's called pragmatism.

Suck it and see

Burnsy's picture

I'd too would be inclined to suck it and see.
Especially if I was able to see where and when a 100% Laissez-faire environment had previoulsy been tried and proven perfect (or at least irrefutably proven superior to other political or economic systems) in real life.

Leave us be

Richard Goode's picture

I wonder what reaction we would see from the heavily tax payer funded abortion industry (e.g highly paid abortionists & Family Planning clinics) if the world were to cease public funding of their activities should we all adopt the laissez-faire system?

Let's suck it and see.

laissez-faire

Burnsy's picture

I wonder what reaction we would see from the heavily tax payer funded abortion industry (e.g highly paid abortionists & Family Planning clinics) if the world were to cease public funding of their activities should we all adopt the laissez-faire system? I know that many people do in fact incredulously wonder whether or not title "Family Planning" does in fact bear any resemblance to the real life application of "Family" and "Planning"

This. Is. Libertopia!

Richard Goode's picture

Could you please advise where and when a 100% Laissez-faire environment has been tried and proven perfect (or at least irrefutably proven superior to other political or economic systems) in real life thanks?

Does laissez-faire capitalism work in real life? What the hell kind of a question is that?!

Laissez-faire

Burnsy's picture

Could you please advise where and when a 100% Laissez-faire environment has been tried and proven perfect (or at least irrefutably proven superior to other political or economic systems) in real life thanks?

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