Sunday, March 21

Liberals and libertarians

Via Douthat:
I think that liberals view the market as a somewhat barbaric and unfair mechanism for allocating resources. They view government as a mechanism for restoring fairness and justice. To a libertarian, the market mechanism is civilized. When people buy and sell in the market, they are making voluntary, mutually beneficial exchanges. In contrast, government is an arena where one side wins and the other side loses. When I shop for a coat, if I do not like the way a coat fits or how it looks, or how much the seller wants me to pay, I do not buy that coat. I buy a different coat, perhaps in a different store. The shopping process leads to peaceful, mutually satisfying trade. On the other hand, look at how the issue of health care reform is going to be resolved. It is like gang warfare, where the Democrats and Republicans are going to rumble, and at least one side is going to be very unhappy with the outcome. For me, it is the democratic process that is barbaric, and it is the market process that is comparatively peaceful and civilized.

—Arnold Kling, “Liberals and Markets”

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