The following is the third paragraph of Barry Germansky’s op-ed Tea Party Heroes Ron and Rand Paul Make for a Bitter Brew, from earlier this year, interspersed with my rebuttals from within the last few days.
BARRY GERMANSKY: Essentially, Ron and Rand Paul’s brand of free market libertarianism equates to radical totalitarianism. They impose a societal yardstick of free market economics on every sector.
HENRY MOORE: Viewing everything through the same lens, the lens of libertarianism, the lens of free markets, the lens of property rights, what have you, does not equate to totalitarianism. The Non-Aggression Principle may be abstract, but it is necessarily anything but totalitarian.
BARRY GERMANSKY: This explains, for example, why the Pauls do not differentiate between property rights and any other kind of human freedoms.
HENRY MOORE: You critique the equation of all human freedoms with property rights. But is that any less contradictory than separating rights (which are propertarian and negative in nature, so much as to render “property rights” redundant) from freedoms, as you do? How is it that some freedoms are outside the scope of ownership? Can something be called a liberty, a fundamental right, that involves using what belongs to someone else against his will and without his consent, as all positive “rights” do? I realize that you think that all words are metaphors in an imaginary social contract, but for the sake of discussion, would you care to go along with convention instead of inventing your own definitions? Rights are negative. One has a right not to have one’s person and possessions violated. One does not have the right to violate the persons and possessions of others. Negative rights may be abstract, but they are quite evidently less contradictory than a system of positive rights, which in essence, is a system of might makes right.
BARRY GERMANSKY: Under the umbrella paradigm of the free market, every entity is considered “property”.
HENRY MOORE: There is no paradigm. There is its opposite. Individualism does not preclude communalism, but collectivism does preclude voluntaryism. Tell me again which is the paradigm.
Every entity is considered property relative to its owner. But the crucial point is, nothing is property, relative to someone who does not own it. Therefore, property rights cannot be imposed on anyone. There is no totalitarianism. No Societal yardstick. No umbrella paradigm. In a free market, people are free to eschew their property rights. In other systems, people are forced to eschew them.
If someone has a problem that does not somehow infringe on another person’s property rights, that second person’s rights are in no way shoved down the throat of the first person. In fact, no one can experience someone else’s property rights without becoming a co-owner of some fashion. Property rights do not banish other methods of solving problems. In fact, a system of property rights encourages alternative, potentially non-propertarian methods of problem-solving. In a propertarian system, individuals are free to pursue their own interests or the common good, and often enough, both at once. The same holds true for solitary individualists and sociable communitarians. Outside of systems of property rights, anything arbitrarily dissimilar to the collectivism of choice is stamped out, either immediately or gradually, the two main causes being the inadvertent destruction of growth-oriented incentives and outright, unabashed coercion.
BARRY GERMANSKY: They dismiss the factors inherent in specific societal issues, from health care to education, and gun control to global warming.
HENRY MOORE: Healthcare is not a right. It is however, a freedom to the extent it does not violate rights. The same goes for education, avoiding all contact with potentially dangerous individuals brandishing guns, and living in zero-growth green zones. And this is just the moral side of the equation, to say nothing about how property rights are actually more pragmatic, more efficient in “sectors” such as health care, education, violent crime, and pollution.
BARRY GERMANSKY: They claim that all rights are the same as the right to property. Therefore, the Pauls sidestep the individual matters at hand, resorting to their magic wand term of “property” to solve any unrelated issue. Even when they say people also have the right to “life”, they are treating life as a property.
HENRY MOORE: If one’s own life cannot even be owned by one’s own self (am I being redundant? Well, take it as a hint), how does one defend it? Is it communal property? Is it outside of ownership altogether? Or do you simply not understand what is meant by the term “property?” And if one doesn’t own one’s own life, who does? If one doesn’t even own one’s self, what can one own? Perhaps the right question isn’t how one defends one’s life, but whether one should defend it at all.