What Would John Galt Do?

A whole different way of looking at "WWJD"

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More rogue-ery

Okay, I gave my friend Dave a pretty Bad TimeĀ® in my last post. Frankly, it was mostly an excuse to link to his website to increase his ranking in Google searches but I thought it would be fun to pull on his chain a little. I mean, why let him get off scot-free, right? Do you think John Galt would let anyone get something for nothing?

Besides, Dave raised some of those libertarian issues in his emails to me that can be argued on both sides from a libertarian perspective. But I was having Too Much FunĀ® lampooning him and ran out of steam before I'd gotten to any of the meaty stuff that he brought up.

Therefore, herewith is a more serious treatment of those issues.

Dave had three or four points to his rant:
  • He doesn't like the requirement for a permit to raft the river, and cops checking for "your papers, please".
  • He REALLY doesn't like being denied the opportunity to drink a beer -- actually a case of beer -- while floating down the river. He said this is what bothers him the most.
  • He also doesn't like the pi cops "making sure you aren't smoking something they don't approve of".
  • His response to the idea of ladies "improving the scenery" (so to speak) was a lugubrious "oh, that's probably illegal too in today's oppressive environment," yada yada. I thought for a moment that Eeyore had snuck in and taken over his keyboard.
So the real question, for THIS blog anyway, for all four of these is, "What Would John Galt Do?"

Well, first of all I think that if John Galt owned that stretch of river, he would expect people to pay (in gold, of course!) for their enjoyment of its use. If he didn't own it, he would expect to pay the owner if he wished to use it. That's just basic Property Rights stuff.

So, making sure that the people using the river have paid for their use thereof is well in line with libertarian (and even Libertarian) principles. The "papers" that the cops seek amount to little more than a reciept proving that one has paid. Certainly no Libertarian can object to that! The alternative amounts to expecting the taxpayers to pick up the tab for parking lot maintenance, porta-potty service, litter cleanup, asshole extermination, and so forth.

I think I beat the second point to death in my last post. Basically, I can see both sides of the alcohol issue, and in formal debate I think I could comfortably argue either side with passion.

I'm not even going to comment on the third point. I doubt that John Galt would care much one way or another about people smoking dope on his property, but who knows, really? I think most people reading this are probably on the same page on this one (i.e., not the Government's business as long as your drug use isn't messing with anyone else's property or pursuit of happiness).

And the last point? Bare breasts are becoming more acceptable every year; I have seen more breasts, in public, in the last few years than I have seen throughout the entire rest of my life. Eugene, Oregon (and I believe Ashland, Oregon as well) has a law on the books specifically declaring that it is legal for women to be in public with bare breasts. The religious bigots who have hijacked the word "conservative" are making a lot of noise (mostly to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission) about their little obsession with this harmless bit of anatomy, but they're losing this war and they know it.

At least there's one little bit of good news.

When libertarians disagree, a good part of the debate comes down to the question of where to draw a line. At what point does one person's right to (for instance) peaceful enjoyment of the water take precedence over others' right to ingest chemicals peacefully -- when that same chemical is also known to turn some people into assholes that make the whole place anything but peaceful?

These discussions almost always end up in shouting matches over "rights". But many of the "rights" people assert aren't rights at all (such as the so-called "right" to health care: no, there is no such thing as a "right" to force others to pay your healthcare expenses for you. I'm sorry.).

Before we can have a rational discussion in areas where rights conflict, the first thing we need to do is ensure that we are dealing with genuine rights. I recently read an excellent piece about environmentalist rhetoric that begins with the clearest discussion of rights (real and phony, and how to tell the difference) that I have ever seen. I highly recommend it to anyone reading my words here, since it is nearly inevitable that I shall make reference to "The Rhetoric of the Environmental Movement" (Ronald Hamowy, Mises Institute) again and again in the future.

Ken
WWJD -- What Would John [Galt] Do?

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