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What about the Workers? A Libertarian Answer


What about the Workers? A Libertarian Answer
by Sean Gabb
(22nd July 2016)

I was called this morning by the BBC. It wanted me to comment on the claims that Sports direct, a chain of sports clothing shops, mistreats its workers – keeping them on zero-hours contracts, sometimes not paying them even the minimum wage, scaring them out of going sick, generally treating them like dirt. Would I care to go on air to defend the right of employers to behave in this way? I am increasingly turning down invitations to go on radio and television, and this was an invitation I declined. I suggested the researcher should call the Adam Smith Institute. This would almost certainly provide a young man to rhapsodise about the wonders of the free market. My own answer would be too complex for the average BBC presenter to understand, and I might be cut off in mid-sentence. Continue reading

Workers of the World Unite for a Free Market


Sheldon Richman
Workers of the World Unite for a Free Market

Protected firms can get away with abusing workers.

By way of Roderick Long I’ve learned that Amazon.com has some pretty rough rules for its employees. (Long draws on the Huffington Post and the Times Online.) According to the Times, employees at the Bedfordshire (UK) warehouse were: Continue reading

Godfrey Bloom, Speech to the Swinton Circle, April 2015


Godfrey Bloom

It is always a pleasure to come and speak to the Swinton Circle, although not the easiest of tasks, like the Cambridge University Conservative Association or Mises Institute the audiences are some of the most informed in the world, the same problem when writing for Breibart or Libertarian Alliance. An expert audience makes it difficult to add value; you risk people going home thinking ‘I knew all that’. So it is often a case of emphasis or revision or simply a new angle. It is inevitable that many of our views are subjective. I remember in Cambridge giving an opinion on same-sex marriage. A post graduate suggested that Nozick would not have agreed with me, well as Bogart said in The Big Sleep when criticised over his manners, ‘I sit up at night grieving over them’. Who knows whether he would agree with me or not? Continue reading

A Freed Society Would Not Be Problem-Free


Sheldon Richman

In 1970 country singer Lynn Anderson had a hit recording of a Joe South song that opened with the line:

I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden.

I often think of that song in connection with the libertarian philosophy. You may be asking: for heaven’s sake, why?

Because it’s what I want to say to people who seem annoyed that freedom would neither cure all existing social ills immediately nor prevent new ones from arising. It’s a strange demand to make on a political philosophy — that it instantly fix everything that the opposing philosophy has broken. Moreover, I’m concerned that some libertarians, in their justifiable enthusiasm for “the market,” inadvertently lead nonlibertarians to think that this unrealistic expectation is part of their philosophy. Of course, that is not good because nonlibertarians won’t believe that the market would make all things right overnight, and so they’ll write off all libertarians as dogmatists. Continue reading

The economic means and the political means


Neil Lock

(Neil:s note: Another short section from a larger essay on bottom up and top down thinking.)

Next, I’ll look at the economic effects, which flow from bottom up and top down approaches. Why are these so important? Because almost everyone – even those with no interest in politics – feels, very directly, the effects of problems in the economy.

I’ll begin with a longish quote from the book The State (first published 1908, English edition 1922) by the German philosopher Franz Oppenheimer:

“There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others…

I propose in the following discussion to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the ‘economic means’ for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the ‘political means.’

What Oppenheimer is telling us is that using the economic means is very different from using the political means. For, think what happens when we buy shoddy goods or services in a free market. If we don’t like what we get, we can look for, and at need switch to, another supplier next time. Better, even if we don’t ourselves go so far as changing supplier, other people switching will give our supplier a strong incentive to clean up its act.

But when the state provides shoddy tax funded services – like justice or education – then often it’s impossible to switch. And even when the state doesn’t actually prohibit competitors from providing a similar service, it’s still hard to change to non-state suppliers. For example, those who can’t afford private schools for their children, and don’t have the time or resources to homeschool, are in effect locked into the state indoctrination system.

Continue reading

Liberals should retake their word which was stolen, and junk the word “Libertarian” which sounds awfully nasty and is unspellable by “young people”


David Davis

I’ve been thinking about the meanings of words, for about 100 years now (I was born on 4th August 1914 as you all know.)

While “libertarian” means “some sort of   “/*.-arian”   [star.dot.-arian – remember DOS anyone?]   who is kind of in favour of individual liberty (that is to say; about choosing this or that course of action and so on, within any agreed legal framework that acknowledges that power), we are now where we are, in a hegemonic climate that’s deeply deeply hostile to any form of nonconformity with the prevailing and “agreed” terms of public discourse. “Anarchists” of the leftoNazi (the only kind of Nazi) persuasion are however tolerated positively and actively, because they are exactly the opposite of what they say. They are “social”, in fact. (See/google “Enoch Powell” + “social” + “word” + “opposite meaning” .)

I have decided that one reason why “libertarians”, such as we here, have got absolutely nowhere in the last 40 years, during which time we should have creamed the World, is that our word for ourselves is an “intellectual” one, and means nothing positive – and indeed has potentially negative connotations – to nearly all people, which is to say about 7 billion. There are perhaps 250,000 people on this planet who actually know what it means in reality, and most of them are opposed academics (Nazis), leftoidNazi journos, or career-politicoNazis. This is not a good place to begin from, to get where we want to go.

We should retake the word “LIBERAL”. Here I promote a comment from Ian B, as follows:- Continue reading