Q&A: Claims of Rights to Food and Shelter: 29 Mar 2015, Question 1
Q&A: Taxpayer-Funded Abortions: 15 Mar 2015, Question 3
Question: Do people have a right to food and shelter? I recently had a conversation with a Facebook friend who stated that food and shelter are more than necessities, they are rights. I posed the question, "How does one exercise their right to food and shelter?" No one answered the question, so I would like to pose it here. Most food in this country is grown by farmers and sold fresh, or processed in a factory for sale. If food is a "right," does anyone without the means to buy these products have an inherent right to take what they need without any remuneration to the farmer or the manufacturer? The same applies to shelter. How does one exercise their "right" to shelter without a means to earn it? We have a right to free speech, and a right to vote. One is exercised by speaking your mind on a subject without fear of government reprisal, and the other is exercised by voting during elections. We have the right to practice whatever religion we want or none at all. The press has the right to print or say whatever they want. Any "right" to food or shelter would have to operate differently. So are food and shelter a "right"? What would that mean in practice?
Tags: Economics, Ethics, Government, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Rights, Three Languages of Politics, Values, Welfare
Q&A: Fractional Reserve Banking, Fraud, and Deception: 8 Mar 2015, Question 1
Question: Should taxpayer-funded abortions be opposed? In Victoria, Australia, we have fairly good laws on abortion and there are almost no legal or social barriers to access. However, we also have a very generous public health care system which means that most if not all of the costs of an abortion will be covered by the public. Is there something especially wrong with publicly funded abortion that advocates of individual rights should be concerned with or is it morally equivalent to the immorality of forcing others to pay for less controversial treatment such as dental surgery? Does the cultural context influence how a free-market advocate should approach this topic? While the majority of the community supports the current laws, there seem to be signs of an anti-abortion faction developing in the Liberal Party (the conservatives). I wouldn't want to have opposition to publicly-funded abortions result in any kind of ban on abortions. So should publicly funded abortions be opposed or not?
Tags: Abortion, Government, Laws, Medicine, Politics, Welfare
Q&A: Vaccinating for Herd Immunity: 22 Feb 2015, Question 2
Question: Does fraud require deliberate deception? Some libertarians, most notably Walter Block, have tried to argue that fraud does not require deliberate deception. For example, argues Block, if I tried to sell you a square circle, and I believed that square circles existed, and so did you, and you agreed to the transaction, then, since square circles do not actually exist, this would still count as fraud, even though no deliberate deception has taken place. Block has used this argument to indict fractional reserve banking, by arguing that it still counts as fraud even though all parties are knowingly consenting. Is he talking rationalist nonsense?
Tags: Business, Deception, Finance, Fraud, Government, Honesty, Law, Rights
Q&A: Forcing People to Govern: 22 Feb 2015, Question 1
Question: Do parents have a moral duty to vaccinate their children to improve "herd immunity"? My doctor is currently making the case for my son (age 12) getting the Gardasil/HPV vaccination, arguing that even though HPV won't really harm him, he could become a carrier and spread HPV to women he has sex with at some time in the future, and thereby harm them. I don't think he has a duty to become one of the "immunized herd" (referring to the idea of "herd immunity" regarding vaccines) and therefore I am not inclined to have him vaccinated against HPV. Should he choose to do so at a later time, he is free to make that decision. Does my son – or do I as a parent – have an obligation to vaccinate purely to promote "herd immunity"? If not in this case, where there is a clear issue of undergoing the vaccination primarily for the sake of risk to others, then what about in other cases of vaccines? Does a person have an obligation to society in general to become part of the immunized herd, even if taking a vaccination is probably at low risk to that person's health?
Tags: Children, Collectivism, Ethics, Government, Health, Herd Immunity, Honesty, Medicine, Parenting, Risks, Vaccination
Q&A: The Regulation of Ultrahazardous Activities: 25 Jan 2015, Question 1
Question: Could unwilling people be compelled to govern? Imagine a situation in which no-one – not a single person – wants to work for the government. This would create a state of anarchy by default because government requires people to govern. Since the existence of a government is necessary for the protection of individual rights via the subordination of society to objective moral law, would compelling some people to govern be necessary and proper?
Tags: Anarchism, Force, Government, Rights, Taxation
Q&A: The Right to Die: 18 Jan 2015, Question 1
Question: Would the government of a free society issue bans or otherwise regulate activities dangerous to bystanders? At the turn of the 20th century it was common to use cyanide gas to fumigate buildings. Although it was well-known that cyanide gas was extremely poisonous and alternatives were available, its use continued and resulted in a number of accidental deaths due to the gas traveling through cracks in walls and even in plumbing. With the development of better toxicology practices, these deaths were more frequently recognized for what they were and at the end of summer in 1825 the NYC government banned its use. In this and other situations, it was recognized that the substance in question was extremely poisonous and could only be handled with the most extreme care – care that was rarely demonstrated. The question is this: Should the government step in and ban the substance from general use or should it simply stand by and wait for people to die and prosecute the users for manslaughter? Or is there another option?
Tags: Business, Epistemology, Government, Law, Philosophy, Regulation, Rights, Risk, Science, Technology, Torts
Q&A: Third Party Payments in Medicine: 11 Jan 2015, Question 2
Question: Should a person who does not wish to live be forcibly prevented from committing suicide? John doesn't like living. He finds no joy in life, and only lives because it would upset other people if he ended his life. He has tried counseling and medication, but he simply has no desire to continue to live. He makes no real contribution to society, nor does he wish to be a part of society. If John wants to die, he can, but the state will attempt to stop him at every turn, even to the point of incarceration. Is there a point when the law (and other people) should simply respect his wishes and allow him to end his life – or perhaps even assist him in doing so?
Tags: Assisted Suicide, Crime, Death, Government, Law, Rights, Suicide
Q&A: Anarchism's Case Against Government: 9 Nov 2014, Question 1
Question: What should be done about third party payments in medicine? I was fascinated by your statement in your November 7th, 2012 discussion of the election that the real need in medicine was to do away with third party payments. It's quite a radical proposal, one of the most radical I've heard from you. How would you think such a thing might be implemented through ethically proper means – as opposed to measures such as legally prohibiting third party payments? Are there types of medical care – perhaps for catastrophic illness or injury – where third party payment would need to be kept in place, or where people in a free economy would likely still choose to keep them in place?
Tags: Business, Contracts, Free Society, Government, Innovation, Insurance, Medicine, Regulation
Q&A: Net Neutrality: 7 Sep 2014, Question 1
Question: Does the government monopoly on the use of force violate rights? Anarchist libertarians have long argued that a rights-respecting government is a contradiction in terms. A government, by its very nature, must have a monopoly on the use of force. That must be a coercive monopoly, since the government will not permit competition in the form of any competing defense agencies advocated by anarchists. Hence, government will always violate rights. What is wrong – if anything – with this argument? I've never gotten a good answer, despite often inquiring about it. Moreover, what assurances do we have that this government monopoly will not behave like other monopolies, such that it gets out of control, increases costs, and eventually fails?
Tags: Anarchism, Business, Government, Justice, Law, Libertarianism, Objectivism, Politics, Rights
Q&A: Compulsory Vaccination: 3 Aug 2014, Question 1
Question: Should "net neutrality" be law? Lately, many people on the left have been advocating for "net neutrality." What is it? What would its effects be? What are the arguments for and against it? If it shouldn't be law, might private "net neutrality" be a good thing?
Tags: Business, Egalitarianism, Fraud, Government, Internet, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Property Rights, Rights, Technology
Interview: Dr. Doug McGuff on Government Controls in Emergency Medicine: 31 Jul 2014
Question: Should the government mandate vaccination? Advocates of free markets often disagree about whether vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary – and whether they could be justly mandated by law. One problem is that the refusal to vaccinate oneself might put others at risk. Not everyone can be vaccinated, and some people who are vaccinated don't develop immunity. However, when the vast majority of people are vaccinated, that provides "herd immunity" to people who don't have immunity. People who choose not to be vaccinated degrade that herd immunity and thereby put others at risk. Moreover, parents have to choose whether to vaccinate their children or not, and the failure to vaccinate is regarded as neglect by many people – on par with Christian Science parents refusing to give a sick child antibiotics. Given that, should vaccinations be mandated by the government? If so, under what circumstances? Or might people be held civilly liable for transmitting diseases? Or should vaccination be considered a purely private matter between individuals (and institutions)?
Tags: Communication, Ethics, Free Society, Government, Health, Medicine, Negligence, Quarantine, Rights
Q&A: Limited Government: 10 Jul 2014, Question 1
Summary: The practice of emergency medicine is heavily regulated by the government. What is EMTALA? What are its effects? What have the effects of ObamaCare been so far? How do these laws compromise patient care and make the practice of medicine more difficult? How could emergency medicine be made more free?
Tags: Business, Free Society, Government, Health, Laws, Medicine, Politics
Interview: Dr. Paul Hsieh on Understanding the Three Languages of Politics: 3 Jul 2014
Question: Should the government of a free society be permitted to do more than just protect rights? If the proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights, why shouldn't a government of a free society do other, additional things as long as it does them without violating anyone's rights? If courts, police, and military could be publicly financed without the use of force, couldn't roads and schools? Is there some reason besides reliance on taxation why these sorts of government programs would be wrong?
Tags: Business, Culture, Free Society, Government, Law, Politics, Rights
Q&A: Drunk Driving in a Free Society: 22 Jun 2014, Question 2
Summary: How many times have you been in political discussions with friends where you find you're talking past one another? You'll make points they consider irrelevant, whereas they'll focus on issues you consider nonessential. Such problems can be overcome, at least in part, using Arnold Kling's concept of the "Three Languages of Politics." Paul Hsieh explained how freedom advocates (e.g., Objectivists and better libertarians), conservatives, and liberals tend to use three vastly different metaphors in political discussions, which can create unintentional misunderstandings and miscommunications. He discussed how to frame discussion points so they better resonate with those speaking the other "languages" without compromising on principles.
Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Civilization, Communication, Compromise, Conservatism, Drug War, Firearms, Free Speech, GLBT, Government, Libertarianism, Medicine, Objectivism, Objectivism, Politics, Privacy, Progressivism, Property Rights, Rights, Three Languages of Politics, Values
Q&A: Licensing Parents: 4 May 2014, Question 2
Question: Should driving drunk be illegal in a free society? Should the government of a free society forbid and punish people for activities potentially harmful to others when they've impaired their judgment via drugs or alcohol? Basically, should driving or shooting a firearm while drunk be illegal? Or should such decisions be left entirely to the discretion of private property owners? Also, given that the government owns the roads today, are laws against drunk driving unjust?
Tags: Alcohol/Drugs, Crime, Ethics, Free Society, Government, Law, Negligence, Rights, Risk, Torts
Q&A: Privatizing Prisons: 23 Mar 2014, Question 2
Question: Should parents be licensed? Given the cost to society of parents shirking their obligations to their children, to entrust children to just anyone able to bear that child seems negligent. The state does, after all, forbid chronic drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel again. On the other hand, to give discretionary power to the state over such a personal matter seems very dangerous. Is there any middle ground that would better protect kids from abusive or neglectful parents and protect society from the growing scourge of poor parenting?
Tags: Child Abuse, Children, Crime, Government, Law, Parenting, Regulation, Rights, Rule of Law
Q&A: Free Speech of Government Officials: 19 Jan 2014, Question 2
Question: Is running prisons a legitimate function of government or should they be privatized? Private prisons are a billion dollar industry here in the United States, but should they be left to private companies or should the government handle them instead?
Tags: Business, Crime, Government, Law, Politics, Punishment, Rights
Q&A: Moral Judgment of European Colonizers: 8 Dec 2013, Question 2
Question: Does freedom of speech apply to government officials? In August 2013, Rolling Stone caused a furor by putting accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover. In response, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino wrote to the publisher of Rolling Stone, telling him that doing so "rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment" – treatment the magazine should have given to the survivors. Other government officials were similarly critical of Rolling Stone. My first reaction was that these government officials had no place saying anything about a publication. But then I wondered, doesn't the First Amendment still apply to them? In other words, do government officials have freedom of speech?
Tags: Free Society, Free Speech, Government, Law, Politics, Rights
Q&A: Values Destroyed by Statism: 17 Nov 2013, Question 2
Question: How should European colonizers be judged for their treatment of Native Americans? Some people, especially conservatives, give blanket praise to Columbus and European colonizers, notwithstanding their conquest and displacement of native populations. Those Native Americans are sometimes denigrated as ignorant, brutal, and/or lacking any concept of property – and hence, as unworthy of the protection of rights. Many others consider the Native Americans either noble savages or at least the rightful owners of the land. They condemn European colonization as unethical conquest or even genocide. Are either of those approaches correct? What counts as a fair judgment of European colonizers in their behavior toward Native Americans? How should European colonizers have treated native persons?
Tags: Colonization, Culture, Ethics, Government, Government, History, Homesteading, Politics, Property Rights, Rights, United States
Q&A: The Speed of Free Market Reforms: 3 Nov 2013, Question 1
Question: What are the most significant values destroyed by statism? In other words, what values would be available to us – or more available – in a laissez-faire, rational society that are limited or unavailable to us today? What are some of the major (and perhaps under-appreciated) values destroyed or precluded by government overreach? To put the question another way: How would a proper government improve our lives?
Tags: Culture, Economics, Ethics, Government, Rights
Interview: Robert Garmong on Censorship in China: 18 Sep 2013
Question: Should free-market reforms be gradual or instantaneous? Many advocates of free markets concede that reforms toward capitalism should be gradual. For example, Yaron Brook said recently about abolishing Social Security, "There is no way to eliminate it tomorrow. There is no way to eliminate it... cold turkey." But why not? What's wrong with the "cold turkey" approach? Is the concern simply that the only way to get people to accept reforms is to make them slowly? Or would it be somehow unjust to cut off people's entitlements suddenly, given that they've come to depend on them?
Tags: Charity, Disability, Economics, Ethics, Government, Justice, Law, Politics, Welfare
Interview: Eric Daniels on Why Small Government Isn't the Answer: 31 Jul 2013
Summary: How does censorship work in China? What can ordinary people access or not? What is the Chinese government most concerned to conceal? What are the consequences of speaking out? What do ordinary people think of the censorship? Robert Garmong, an American living and working in China, will answer these questions and more.
Tags: Academia, Censorship, China, Culture, Education, Free Speech, Government, History, Rights, Technology
Q&A: Social Contract Theory: 28 Jul 2013, Question 1
Summary: Is "big government" the fundamental problem of American politics? Historian Eric Daniels will explain why this common formulation is misleading, wrong, and even dangerous to liberty.
Tags: Activism, America, Anarchism, Crime, Culture, Epistemology, Government, History, Law, Libertarianism, Politics, Racism, Rights, Self-Defense, Sexism
Interview: Fran Santagata on Preparing for Wildfires and Evacuations: 2 Jul 2013
Question: Is a "social contract" the proper basis for government? The idea of a "social contract" is often used to justify all kinds of government interventions for the so-called "greater good." What does it mean to say that society is founded on a social contract? What are the practical implications of that approach to politics? Was John Locke a proponent of this view?
Tags: Government, John Rawls, Law, Meta-Politics, Politics, Social Contract Theory, Thomas Hobbes
Interview: Trey Peden on Online Marketing and Privacy: 12 Jun 2013
Summary: Colorado is experiencing yet another very destructive – even deadly – fire season. What can people do to prepare for that? How can they mitigate the risk to their property? How can they make sure that people and animals are evacuated safely?
Tags: Emergencies, Government, Planning, Responsibility, Values
Q&A: Taxes Versus Slavery: 12 May 2013, Question 1
Summary: What do online marketing companies know about you? How do they gather data? Should you be alarmed by that? If so, what tools can help you protect your privacy online?
Tags: Business, Crime, Government, Law, Marketing, Privacy, Technology
Interview: Jim Manley on Concealed Carry on Campus: 1 May 2013
Question: Are high taxes comparable to slavery? On Facebook, some friends suggest that America is becoming more like Nazi Germany. Others share images comparing Americans workers to slaves picking cotton in the antebellum south due to our ever-higher taxes. I think these comparisons go way too far: Americans are still some of the freest people the world has ever known. No doubt, our freedom is being chipped away, but are we really like slaves?
Tags: Activism, Apocalypticism, Epistemology, Government, History, Language, Politics, Slavery, Taxes
Q&A: The State's Role in Caring for Children of Unfit Parents: 21 Apr 2013, Question 2
Summary: Many people assume that college campuses are – and should be – gun free zones. Jim Manley explains why concealed carry permit holders should be permitted to carry on campus.
Tags: Activism, Colorado, Democrats, Firearms, Government, Rights, Self-Defense
Q&A: Epistemic Effects of Government Controls: 24 Mar 2013, Question 2
Question: What should the state's role be in dealing with abused children? The state needs to remove children from homes where they're being abused--where their rights are being violated. But what should it then do with them? Should the state care for them until it can find a new home for them? How should it provide that care? If it cannot find a new home for a child, what happens to that child? Should the state raise the child to adulthood?
Tags: Children, Ethics, Free Society, Government, Law, Obligation, Parenting, Rights
Interview: Stephen Bailey on Limiting Government by Constitutional Amendment: 20 Mar 2013
Question: How do government controls encourage short-range thinking in business? In your discussion of the principle of sustainability in December 2011, you said that government controls encourage people to think short-range – to grab what they can and run with it – including in business. Why is that? What are some examples?
Tags: Ethics, Government, Psycho-Epistemology, Regulations, Rights
Q&A: Disruptive Kids in Public School: 10 Mar 2013, Question 4
Summary: Could an amendment to the US Contitution provide an effective check on government power? Stephen Bailey, a Republican congressional candidate in 2010, has a proposal for a constitutional amendment that deserves consideration.
Tags: Activism, Free Society, Government, Juries, Law, Politics, Rights
Q&A: Advancing Liberty Through a New Political Party: 24 Feb 2013, Question 2
Question: How should a public school teacher discipline unruly students? Since school attendance is mandatory, what is the proper and moral way to handle discipline in class? I'm a Spanish teacher in public school, and I hate to threaten or punish the few unruly kids. But for the sake of students who are truly interested to learn Spanish, I have to resort to methods like assigning detention and taking away phones for students who are not interested in Spanish. They are in my class only because they are pressured by their counselors. How can I deal with disruptive students in a way that respects their rights?
Tags: Children, Education, Ethics, Government, Rights
Q&A: Antibiotic Resistance in a Free Society: 17 Feb 2013, Question 2
Question: When would creating a political party advance the cause of liberty? At the moment, creating a new political party might not make sense in the United States because the Republicans and Democrats dominate the elections and the media. But when would be the right time to do so, if ever? In other countries, even tiny parties are discussed in the news, and they can win a few seats. Under those circumstances, does it make sense to create a political party advocating for individual rights? If so, what would be a good name for such a party?
Tags: Activism, Elections, Government, Politics
Interview: Michelle Minton on Your Freedom to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: 13 Feb 2013
Question: How would antibiotic resistance be handled in a free society? Bacteria acquire resistance to antibiotics by exposure to low doses of antibiotics. Such low doses may come from misuse of antibiotics, for example when taken to combat a cold or flu (which are viral infection against which antibiotics do nothing) or by not completing the full course as prescribed by a doctor. Antibiotics are indeed awesome drugs which have saved millions of lives. But resistant bacteria pose a serious health problem, often causing serious and difficult-to-treat illness in third parties. What would be the proper way to address this problem in a free society?
Tags: Business, Capitalism, Charity, Free Society, Government, Health, Law, Medicine, Negligence, Rights, Torts
Interview: William E. Perry on What It's Really Like to Be a Prosecutor: 30 Jan 2013
Summary: The government heavily regulates food and drinks commonly regarded as dangerous or unhealthy. What motivates such regulations? Why are they so widespread? How can they be fought?
Tags: Activism, Alcohol/Drugs, Free Society, Government, Health, Integrity, Law, Nutrition, Politics, Regulations, Rights, Science
Q&A: Mandatory Child Support: 27 Jan 2013, Question 4
Summary: What is the work of a prosecutor really like? In this interview, former Arizona prosecutor William E. Perry discussed the cases he prosecuted and various issues in criminal law – including the role of juries, standards of evidence, the drug war, confessions, and plea bargaining.
Tags: Career, Crime, Government, Law, Police, Punishment, Rights
Q&A: Unions for Government Employees: 27 Jan 2013, Question 2
Question: Isn't mandated child support basically just welfare for needy children? What is the moral difference between compelling parents to support their children and compelling all people to support the needy in society? Many critics of the welfare state believe that parents should be compelled to support their children with basic levels of physical sustenance and education, such that failing to provide these constitutes violating children's rights. But how is that different from compelling people to support other needy or vulnerable people? Is the blood relationship what creates the obligation to support the child – and if so, how?
Tags: Abortion, Adoption, Children, Child Support, Ethics, Fatherhood, Free Society, Government, Law, Parenting, Pregnancy, Welfare
Interview: Paul Sherman on Free Speech in Elections: 9 Jan 2013
Question: Should government employees be permitted to unionize? In your 16 December 2012 discussion of "right to work" laws, you said that business owners should have the right to refuse to hire union members (or to fire them). How would that work for government employees? In a free society, could legislators (or departments) forbid government workers from being union members? Could they require union membership?
Tags: Free Society, Government, Law, Politics, Rights, Unions, Work
Q&A: Manipulating Finances to Qualify for Welfare: 6 Jan 2013, Question 1
Summary: Many people support restrictions on spending in elections, particularly by corporations, in the name of "transparency" and "accountability." Institute for Justice attorney Paul Sherman takes a very different view. He argues persuasively that any restrictions on campaign spending are violations of freedom of speech. He has successfully argued that view in courts across the country.
Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Elections, Free Speech, Government, Law, Politics, Rights
Q&A: Right to Work Laws: 16 Dec 2012, Question 1
Question: Is it wrong to manipulate your finances to qualify for welfare? An acquaintance of mine – who is moderately wealthy – feels justified in manipulating her finances to get government aid whenever possible on the grounds that it is "getting back" some of what she has paid. For example, she had her elderly mother buy a new car for her own use, in order to have her mother deplete her savings faster and qualify for Medicaid. However, while she had paid much in tax, her mother collects more in social security every month than she ever paid in taxes. Is it rational to view this as "getting back" money that was taken inappropriately, or is it actually immoral and self-destructive?
Tags: Ethics, Government, Honesty, Integrity, Law, Welfare
Q&A: Right to Die: 2 Dec 2012, Question 4
Question: Do right-to-work laws violate or protect rights? Some states are attempting to pass "right to work" laws, despite massive union opposition. Under such laws, employers cannot require employees to be a member of a union – as often happens due to federal law. These laws aim to empower employees against unwelcome unions. Are these laws legitimate – perhaps as defense against unjust federal law or a step toward freedom of contract? Or are they indefensible because they violate the rights of employers to dictate the terms of employment?
Tags: Activism, Business, Contracts, Ethics, Free Society, Government, History, Law, Rights, Unions, Work
Q&A: Guaranteed Pensions for Government Employees: 2 Dec 2012, Question 3
Question: Is there a right to die and/or a right to be killed? Does a person have a right to die? If so, under what conditions? Moreover, does a person unable to kill himself (due to illness) have a right to be killed by a willing person?
Tags: Death, Ethics, Government, Law, Rights, Suicide
Q&A: Choosing to Live in a Socialist Country: 4 Nov 2012, Question 3
Question: Should pensions to government employees be guaranteed? Many cities and states are running into fiscal trouble and are reneging on promises to pay pensions to retired government employees, such as policemen. Should those promised payments be guaranteed, even if that means raising taxes or cutting back elsewhere? After all, those payments are part of a contract made between the employer and the employee. Or if money is tight for the city/state government, should the retirees have to share the same risk of default as anyone else the government owes money to?
Tags: Contracts, Ethics, Free Society, Government, Law, Pensions, Retirement, Welfare
Q&A: Duties to the Government: 28 Oct 2012, Question 3
Question: Is it moral to choose to live in a socialist country? A person might move to England to study at a conservatory or move to China for a job. Would it be moral to do that – meaning, to move to a socialist country and make use their government institutions? Would there be some kind of obligation to "pay back" what the person gains from that country's taxpayers, such as by donating to organizations that promote capitalism in that country? Or would it be immoral altogether, such that a person should pursue whatever opportunities he can in America (or where he is)?
Tags: Ethics, Free Society, Government, Life, Mixed Economy, Personal Values, Politics, Responsibility
Q&A: Why Anarcho-Capitalism Is Wrong: 28 Oct 2012, Question 2
Question: In a free society, would people be obliged to support or obey the government? Ayn Rand defined government as "an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area." She said that a government has – and must have – "a monopoly on the legal use of physical force." Given that, must a person support the government – morally or financially – in order for his rights to be protected? Would a person have to swear loyalty, pay taxes, vote in elections, or serve in the military? What would be the status of an anarchist – meaning someone who regards all government as illegitimate – in such a society?
Tags: Anarchism, Free Society, Government, Law, Politics, Rights
Q&A: Federal Versus State and Local Government: 21 Oct 2012, Question 1
Question: What's wrong with anarcho-capitalism? Libertarian anarchists – such as Murray Rothbard, Roy Childs, and Stefan Molyneux – claim that anarcho-capitalism is the only political system compatible with the "non-aggression principle." Is that right? Must any government initiate force by excluding competing defense agencies, as anarchists claim? Should governments be abolished in favor of private markets in force?
Tags: Anarchism, Free Society, Government, Law, Politics, Rights, Vigilantism
Q&A: Working for the IRS Versus Collecting Welfare: 14 Oct 2012, Question 2
Question: Is it proper for state or local government to enact laws that a federal government should not? A proper government is one that fulfills and is limited to the role of protecting citizens from initiations of force by other individuals or other nations. However, in a free and proper society, is it proper for local and state governments to enact laws that go beyond the proper functions of a federal government? For example, in a properly-governed United States, could states enact certain laws that regulate behavior beyond what the federal government could enact, perhaps based on the religious or other values held by most people in that community – on the assumption that any person who disagreed could leave the area?
Tags: Crime, Free Society, Government, Induction, Law, Politics, Rights, State's Rights
Q&A: The Role of Government in Adoption: 19 Aug 2012, Question 1
Question: Is it wrong to accept Social Security disability benefits when I could work? I'm blind. Although I can work, my recent job at the IRS seemed to be so soul-draining and vexing that I determined to look elsewhere for employment. However, jobs are limited right now, and I am not sure what else I want to do at this point. Was it right for me to quit my job before having the next one lined up? In the meantime, is it moral for me to receive Social Security? Have I gone from being a maker to a taker?
Tags: Career, Disability, Ethics, Government, Integrity, Welfare, Work
Q&A: Advertising to Children: 12 Aug 2012, Question 3
Question: What is the proper role of government in adoption, if any? Many religious people recoil at the notion of gay marriage due to its implications for adoption. They fear that the government will then allow gay couples to adopt on a broader scale. I suspect that the government is taking too great a role in adoption, and that's what causes this particular controversy. So what role should the government play in adoption? Should it screen parents and forbid some people from adopting? More broadly, what would adoption look like in a free society?
Tags: Adoption, Children, Free Society, GLBT, Government, Parenting, Rights
Q&A: The Cost of Freedom: 8 Jul 2012, Question 4
Question: Should the government regulate advertising to children? Most people think that advertising products to children is morally wrong, if not coercive. They say that the government should regulate or even ban such advertising to protect children and parents from pushy advertisers. In the case of junk food, for example, people claim that children are not old enough to understand the damage that junk food does to their health. Therefore, they claim, children must be protected. While I can understand forbidding advertising drugs or liquor to children, to forbid food advertisements seems like a violation of individual rights. So should the government have any role in regulating advertisements directed at children?
Tags: Children, Food, Free Speech, Government, Parenting, Rights
Q&A: The Morality of Working a Government Job: 29 Apr 2012, Question 2
Question: Shouldn't freedom be "free"? I often hear the bromide "freedom isn't free," or some variation of it, such as, "there's a price for freedom." But isn't freedom actually free? A person acts by right in pursuing his own life and happiness, and criminals do not have any right to coerce or threaten others. If freedom is the political expression of rights in a social or political context, it follows that there should be no "cost" to exercising one's rights. It isn't a sacrifice to not violate others rights, since respect for them is a selfish virtue, nor would it be a sacrifice to voluntarily fund a proper government that protects one's rights, since the benefit outweighs the cost. Am I correct in thinking freedom, properly understood and protected, is indeed free, or not? If I am, what do people mean when they say, "freedom isn't free," and what's the proper response?
Tags: Free Society, Government, Military, Politics, Rights, Sacrifice, Taxes
Q&A: Stealing Valor: 15 Apr 2012, Question 3
Question: Is it moral to work for the IRS? Is it morally wrong to work for government agencies like the IRS (or equivalent tax bureaus), IAS (Indian Administrative Services), or the EPA? I'm an advocate of free markets. Would I be a hypocrite to work for such illegitimate government agencies?
Tags: Career, Ethics, Government, Integrity, Work
Q&A: The Morality of Vigilantism: 15 Apr 2012, Question 2
Question: Should "stealing valor" be a crime? Rencently, a man was arrested by the FBI in Houston and charged with "stolen valor."
This is the charge made against someone who falsely poses as a decorated soldier. Is it proper to make this a crime? Why or why not?
Tags: Constitution, Ethics, Fraud, Free Speech, Government, Law, Rights
Q&A: The Morality of Breaking the Law: 15 Apr 2012, Question 1
Question: Where is the line between justice and vigilantism? When is it moral to take the law into your own hands – meaning pursuing, detaining, and/or punishing criminals as a private citizen? Suppose that you know – without a shadow of a doubt – that some person committed a serious crime against you or a loved one. If the justice system cannot punish the person due to some technicality, is it wrong for you to do so? If you're caught, should a judge or jury punish you, as if you'd committed a crime against an innocent person?
Tags: Anarchism, Crime, Ethics, Government, Law, Rights
Q&A: Ayn Rand's View of Women: 11 Mar 2012, Question 1
Question: When is it moral to break the law? Laws should be written to protect individual rights. Unfortunately, many laws today violate rights. When should I abide by a rights-violating law, and when is it proper to break it?
Tags: Ethics, Free Society, Government, Law, Rights
Q&A: Overfeeding a Child as Abuse: 19 Feb 2012, Question 3
Question: Did Ayn Rand regard women as inferior to men? I admire Ayn Rand, and I've used her philosophy in my business and personal life, but I disagree with her view of women. In her article "About a Woman President," Ayn Rand said that "For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship – the desire to look up to man. 'To look up' does not mean dependence, obedience or anything implying inferiority." Yet her view seems to imply inferiority in practice: Rand says that no woman should aspire to be U.S. President because that would put her in the psychologically unbearable position of not having any man to look up to. So, does Rand's view imply that women are inferior to men? What is the factual basis of her view, if any? Do you agree with her?
Tags: Ayn Rand, Career, Ethics, Gender, Government, Independence, Objectivism, Psychology, Rationality, Sex
Q&A: Patriotism as a Virtue: 12 Feb 2012, Question 2
Question: Is overfeeding a child a form of abuse? In November, county officials in Ohio placed a third-grade child into foster care on the grounds that he's over 200 pounds and his mother isn't doing enough to control his weight. (See the news story
.) The boy does not currently have any serious medical problems: he's merely at risk for developing diabetes, hypertension, etc. The county worked with the mother for a year before removing the child, and it claims that her actions constitute medical neglect. Now his mother is only permitted to see him once per week for two hours. Did the state overreach its proper authority in removing the child from his home?
Tags: Child Abuse, Children, Food, Free Society, Government, Health, Nutrition, Parenting, Rights
Q&A: Term Limits for Politicians: 5 Feb 2012, Question 4
Question: Is patriotism a virtue? Is patriotism towards America a virtue? Should a person "love America" – or is that just jingoistic nationalism?
Tags: Free Society, Government, Loyalty, Patriotism, Rights, Virtue
Podcast: December 2011 Testimony on Campaign Finance: 20 Dec 2011
Question: Are term limits necessary and proper for good government? Many people – usually conservatives – claim that term limits are essential to liberty. They say that the Founders never intended to have career politicians, and they blame the growth of government on those career politicians and their pork projects. Do you support term limits? Are they an important restraint on the growth of government?
Tags: Conservatism, Free Society, Government
Q&A: Gary Johnson for US President: 11 Dec 2011, Question 5
Summary: On December 15th, 2011, Ari Armstrong, Paul Hsieh, and I testified at the Secretary of State's hearing on the proposed changes to Colorado's campaign finance rules. This podcast includes all our testimony.
Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Coalition for Secular Government, Free Speech, Government, Politics, Rights
Q&A: Ron Paul for US President: 11 Dec 2011, Question 4
Question: Should I support Gary Johnson for US President? What's the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Johnson deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election? Also, should supporters of Gary Johnson vote for him on a Libertarian Party ticket?
Tags: Abortion, Drug War, Elections, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage, Government, Immigration, Medicine, Politics, Republican Party, Rights
Q&A: Newt Gingrich for US President: 11 Dec 2011, Question 3
Question: Should I support Ron Paul for US President? What's the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Paul deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?
Tags: Abortion, Drug War, Elections, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage, Government, Immigration, Medicine, Politics, Republican Party, Rights
Q&A: Mitt Romney for US President: 11 Dec 2011, Question 2
Question: Should I support Newt Gingrinch for US President? What's the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Gingrinch deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?
Tags: Abortion, Drug War, Elections, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage, Government, Immigration, Medicine, Politics, Republican Party, Rights
Q&A: Forcing Religious Fanaticism on Others: 20 Nov 2011, Question 3
Question: Should I support Mitt Romney for US President? What's the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Romney deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?
Tags: Abortion, Drug War, Elections, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage, Government, Immigration, Medicine, Politics, Republican Party, Rights
Q&A: The Meaning of Citizenship in a Free Society: 20 Nov 2011, Question 1
Question: Why do religious fanatics seek to impose their beliefs on others? Most religious fanatics aren't content to practice their religion for themselves: they seek to impose it on others by law. Why is that? Why is that wrong? What can be done to combat it?
Tags: Christianity, Epistemology, Ethics, Ethics, Government, Politics, Psycho-Epistemology, Psychology, Religion
Q&A: Private Versus State Prisons: 30 Oct 2011, Question 3
Question: What should it mean for a person to be a citizen of country? Suppose that America were a free country, with open borders. What would be the difference between a long-term resident and a citizen? How would that affect a person's relationship to the government? How would a person (including someone born in the US) become a citizen? Could a person be a citizen of two countries?
Tags: Citizenship, Free Society, Government, Immigration, Law, Politics, Rights
Q&A: State Involvement in Marriage: 23 Oct 2011, Question 1
Question: Should prisons be run by the state or private companies? After reading this Huffington Post article
, I wonder whether prisons should be run by private companies or the state. I tend to think private is almost always better than anything state-run, but the current system of private prisons seems to be corrupt at best. More generally, what would a prison system look like in a free society?
Tags: Crime, Government, Law, Politics
Q&A: Working for a Statist Company: 28 Aug 2011, Question 4
Question: Should the state be involved in marriage contracts? Many people say that gay marriage shouldn't be a political issue, because the state shouldn't be involved in defining marriage at all. Is that right? Why or why not?
Tags: Free Society, Gay Marriage, GLBT, Government, Law, Marriage, Politics, Polygamy, Romance
Q&A: Lobbying as a Career: 28 Aug 2011, Question 3
Question: Is it immoral to work for a company that uses government to eliminate or hamper the competition? For example, if a company has brought antitrust lawsuits against its competitors, should you refuse to work for them?
Tags: Business, Career, Ethics, Government, Politics
Q&A: Deliberately Losing a Pricey Library Book: 14 Aug 2011, Question 4
Question: Can lobbying be a proper career choice? Lobbying involves asking for various kind of favors from the government. Is that a profession that someone who values free markets should avoid like the plague?
Tags: Career, Ethics, Government, Integrity, Politics
Q&A: JK Rowling's Welfare Payments: 7 Aug 2011, Question 2
Question: Is it moral to "defraud" a public library? There is an out-of-print book that I can't get for less than $100, a price I am not willing to pay. My library has a copy but they won't offer it for sale. Is it wrong to tell the library it is "lost" and just pay the fees, assuming they are reasonable? Does it matter that the library is an illegitimate government program that I'm taxed to support?
Tags: Ethics, Government, Honesty, Politics
Q&A: Compulsory Juries: 15 May 2011, Question 4
Question: Should JK Rowling repay the British government for welfare payments made to her? She famously wrote the first Harry Potter novel while "on the dole." She has been fabulously successful since then, but she likely could not have written that first book without state support. Should she now pay back all the government welfare paid to her during that period?
Tags: Ethics, Government, Justice, Literature, Statism, Taxes, Welfare
Podcast: May 2011 Testimony on Campaign Finance: 9 May 2011
Question: Are compulsory juries moral? Is it necessary and/or proper to compel citizens to serve on a jury? If not, what is the best way to ensure the right to a trial by a jury of your peers, rather than trial by government agents? Should a free society have professional volunteer juries like the military?
Tags: Free Society, Government, Juries, Law, Military, Objectivism, Politics, Rights, Taxes
Q&A: Government Medical Insurance: 24 Apr 2011, Question 4
Summary: On May 3rd, 2011, I testified in a hearing before Colorado's Secretary of State about the burdens of Colorado's campaign finance regulations. This podcast contains the full audio from my testimony, plus my answers to questions from the panel.
Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Coalition for Secular Government, Free Speech, Government, Politics, Rights
Q&A: Right to Legal Counsel: 24 Apr 2011, Question 3
Question: Should a person with a pre-existing medical condition that disqualifies him from most major medical insurance plans sign up for a state-sponsored high-risk insurance pool? I'm a 1099 independent software contractor, and I'm responsible for my own health insurance. I have a pre-existing condition that disqualifies me from most of the major medical insurers. My current insurer offers few benefits, and the company is notorious for trying to deny claims. I was also diagnosed with a malignant tumor in my cheek. That's being treated, but I'll be all the more uninsurable in the future. However, the state where I live has a high-risk insurance pool available. Financially, this plan would be a much better deal than I have with my current insurance company. I would have to pay premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance, so this plan is not complete welfare. However, I'm obviously wary of becoming dependent on the government for such a plan, and I don't want to contribute to the continued socialization of the health-care system. I have some other options, like trying to find a job that offers benefits, but I love my current job. Am I trying to eat my cake and have it too by signing up for the state plan, which would allow me to stay in my current job without the worry of a major medical issue ruining me and my family financially?
Tags: Ethics, Government, Medicine, Rights
Q&A: Global Warming: 3 Apr 2011, Question 3
Question: Why is receiving the counsel of an attorney a right while receiving health care is not? In both cases, you would receive something that you need for free from the state. So what's the difference, if any? Why should a repeat offender have access to free legal counsel at taxpayer expense while an innocent, law-abiding sick person shouldn't receive life-saving medication or treatment at taxpayer expense? In the former case, the criminal might lose his liberty, but in the latter case the sick person might die. So what I am missing?
Tags: Government, Justice, Law, Medicine, Rights
Q&A: Laws and Regulations: 27 Mar 2011, Question 6
Question: How should I deal with the idea of man-made global warming? What is the proper approach to the whole idea? I can't decide on my own whether it's true or false without educating myself in climatology. And how should I treat others who believe in it just because many university professors do?
Tags: Business, Capitalism, Environmentalism, Government, Law, Rights, Science, Technology
Q&A: Bribing Government Officials: 20 Feb 2011, Question 6
Question: Are regulations necessarily different from laws? Regulations do not violate the presumption of innocence – they are jurisprudential signals. A law against murder does not violate the presumption of innocence; rather, it is a signal that denotes a consequence that will be levied upon the violator of the law. This is the same standard that regulations follow. A law is a "regulation" on behavior in the way that legislative regulations are, in fact, "regulations" on business behavior. Is this a correct assessment of laws and regulations?
Tags: Government, Law, Politics, Regulations, Rights
Q&A: Government Secrets: 20 Feb 2011, Question 5
Question: Is it immoral to bribe a government official? There are many approvals and licenses that are required to be taken by individual and/or companies for doing anything. But they are not granted unless you bribe the concerned government official. (They are not ashamed of asking you directly.) In that case, is it immoral on your part to bribe them as you have no way out?
Tags: Corruption, Ethics, Government, Regulations, Rights
Q&A: Cheating on Taxes: 20 Feb 2011, Question 4
Question: Should private citizens be legally obliged to keep government secrets? Should it be a crime for private citizens to divulge "top secret" information? That is, if I have no specific security agreement or contract with the government to keep information confidential if I come to possess it through no fault of my own? What if lives are at stake?
Tags: Foreign Policy, Government, Law, Rights, Secrets
Q&A: Unpaid-For College Classes: 30 Jan 2011, Question 3
Question: Is it immoral to cheat on your taxes? It's essentially a lie to protect the products of your labor. So is it wrong just because it's illegal?
Tags: Ethics, Government, Honesty, Law, Rights, Taxes
Q&A: Punishment of Government Officials: 12 Dec 2010, Question 5
Question: Is it wrong to cheat a partly government funded institution? There are a couple of classes I would enjoy sitting in on at my university. They are large, and I would not be noticed. Would it be wrong to go without paying for them? I wouldn't do this with a private college, nor would I have qualms about a completely government funded school. But colleges are partly privately paid for. Would it be immoral for me to get some of that value without paying?
Tags: Education, Ethics, Government, Honesty
Q&A: Sanctioning the TSA: 5 Dec 2010, Question 6
Question: Should government officials be punished for rights violations committed via their office? Should the constitution of a rational government in a capitalist society mandate punishment of those in positions of governance who use the power of government to violate individual rights? For instance, McCain-Feingold represents a massive individual rights' violation; that of free speech and association. McCain and Feingold violated their oath to defend the Constitution as did all those who voted for it; George W. Bush explicitly abdicated his oath in his signing statement. Should such people be punished for legalizing such an encroachment? Currently, only Treason is specifically mentioned in the Constitution as a criminal act requiring punishment
Tags: Crime, Free Society, Government, Law
Q&A: Terminal Cancer and Disability: 31 Oct 2010, Question 3
Question: Given the TSA's policies, is choosing to fly giving the sanction of the victim?
Tags: Ethics, Government, Rights, Sanction
Interview: Stephen Bailey on Politics Based on Principle: 23 Sep 2010
Question: I have a terminal illness (cancer) that's getting in the way of my daily life, which includes a full-time job and college. Is it moral to stop working and go on disability?
Tags: Ethics, Government, Health, Welfare, Work
Interview: Craig Biddle on Egoism and Altruism in American Culture: 23 Sep 2009
Summary: What does a principled political candidate say and do? Stephen Bailey
– the Republican candidate for US House of Representatives for Colorado's Second District in 2010 – gives us a good example in this discussion of his principles and prospects.
Tags: Abortion, Alcohol/Drugs, Campaign Finance, Economy, Elections, Environmentalism, Government, Immigration, Personhood, Politics, Religion, Rights, Taxes
Summary: I interview Craig Biddle about egoism and altruism in American culture and politics, based on his new article "The Creed of Sacrifice vs. The Land of Liberty
Tags: Altruism, Charity, Christianity, Conservatism, Culture, Egoism, Ethics, Government, Politics, Rights, Self-Interest