Defending Libertarian Coercion Arguments
By Bryan Caplan
Arnold’s a bit hasty to dismiss a compelling line of reasoning:
Suppose that in community Libertopia, in response to customer preferences, all of the better restaurants ban smoking. In nearby community Paternafascista, there is a law that bans smoking in restaurants.
…In both Libertopia and Paterfascista, smokers are not able to smoke in the better restaurants. If someone insists on trying to smoke, he may end up forcibly removed by the police.
…Government policies take away more liberty than equivalent private policies. The reason is not that government policies are backed by physical force. The reason is that government has broader jurisdiction.
Suppose that in Libertopia, you’re extremely undesirable, so no woman will marry you. In Paterfascista, you’re extremely desirable, but it’s illegal to marry you.
In both Libertopia and Paterfascista, you’re not able to marry. So you could say that both systems are equally objectionable. But morally speaking, that’s highly implausible. In Libertopia, complaints against “the system” amount to “Force someone to marry me.” In Paterfascista, complaints against “the system” amount to “Let me marry a willing partner.” The first complaint is hard to take seriously; the second complaint is hard not to take seriously.