Monthly Archives: October 2014

The trouble with levelling playing fields

As a follow up to I should be so lucky?, here’s a passage from Anthony de Jasay’s essay ‘The bitter medicine of freedom’ (available in Justice and Its Surroundings).

A distribution of resources and advantages is both an end-state and a starting position leading to a new distribution. The object of a particular initial distribution D, offering equal opportunities, is to have the freedom of contract to produce just outcomes. However, whatever outcome D’ it did produce will differ from the initial equal-opportunity distribution D; some people will have gotten ahead of the position—in terms of wealth, skills, reputation, place in the social network—assigned to them in the equal-opportunity distribution, others will have lagged behind it. (Countless handicap races have been run on the world’s race courses but despite the best efforts of expert handicappers, there is to my knowledge no record of a single race ever producing a dead heat of all the runners.) We need not decide whether this is an empirical law or a logical necessity. Such will be the just outcome of the first round; however, this just end-state represents a new distribution D’ of assets and advantages that, unlike the initial D, no longer offers equal opportunities for the second round. Equality of opportunity must be restored by redistribution, positive discrimination, and so forth. The just end-state D’ generated by equal opportunities and freedom of contract in the first round offers the participants unequal opportunities for the second round, and must be overridden to secure the justice of the end-state to be generated in it, and so on to the third and all subsequent rounds to the end of time.

(pp 293-295, Justice and its surroundings)

Against Politics returns! Hooray!

Aschwin de Wolf is back – after a hiatus of almost a year – with a typically thoughtful post, Moral rhetoric in the face of strategic weakness

If you haven’t visited the site before, make sure you check it out. Personally, I’ve got loads out of it. There’s Jasay related posts galore, articles by (and some interviews with) Jan Narveson – tons of good stuff, basically.

In a word, I’m chuffed it’s back.

UPDATE: Aschwin has added Strict Liberalism to the Against Politics blogroll. Needless to say, I greatly appreciate this.

I should be so lucky?

This post appears at Libertarian Home (with a picture of Kylie Minogue).

Because I am anything but “perfectly comfortable” with arguments that differences in endowments (basically upbringing and inborn talent),” – or what we might call luck – “mean that there is a case for redistribution between individuals”, it is extremely unlikely that I will be offered a job at a leading free market think-tank any time soon. Of course, whether this is a piece of undeserved good luck or a piece of undeserved bad luck is one of those “in the eye of the beholder” things that makes handicapping people to ensure their equality such an incredibly messy business. On the one hand, through no fault of my own, I miss out on a career opportunity and the chance to appear on Newsnight. On the other, I won’t have to knock about with people who have spent the past thirty-odd years tirelessly promoting “efficient” government. Hmmm…

Continue reading I should be so lucky?

Guns, guns, guns! Or maybe not…

Won’t somebody please think of the statistics!

Read this.

I do feel the author has missed a trick by taking the overall US murder rate rather than rates for specific states. For instance, New Hampshire, which has incredibly liberal gun laws, has a murder rate of 1.1 per 100,000 head of population, compared to a murder rate of 1.6 per 100,000 in Belgium, which has very illiberal gun laws.

Last call for the “Cost of Living Crisis” debate

Libertarian Home’s star-studded event is tomorrow night at the Institute of Education, London. There’ll be speakers from the IEA, ARI, the bloke who used to be leader of the Libertarian Party, and a couple of state socialists.

The last few tickets can be bought here. (There is a promo code knocking about, courtesy of that nest of vipers The Adam Smith Institute.)

Details are here.

The speaker list can be found here. There are write-ups of some at the Lib Home site.

(That “nest of vipers” thing isn’t a joke, by the way.)