Category Archives: de Jasay

What would Jasay do? Basic Income edition

Following on from my last post, I wouldn’t be doing my best to promote strict liberalism if I didn’t link to, How to get a free lunch? Just apply for it

Or if I didn’t share this gem from Jasay’s ‘To each his own, to each the same’:

Redistribution “up to a point” is mild or radical depending on the “point” up to which it is carried. That point is obviously mobile, though it is easier to envisage it being upwardly than downwardly mobile.

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)

New de Jasay article on classical liberalism

This is pretty much Jasay in a nutshell, and just as excellent as you’d expect: (loose) liberalism, democracy, limited government, constitutions, the asymmetry of collective and individual choice, ordered anarchy…

Here’s a taste:

[Democracy’s] mechanism confers political power by anonymous voting. This forces rivals for power into periodic bidding contests. The bidders offer resources to one part of society in exchange for its votes, and take these resources from other parts of society, a type of transaction that democratic principles find irreproachable and perhaps praise worthy. In this repetitive process, governments are driven to keep expanding the state, using it as a machine for absorbing resources, transforming them, and handing them out again to others in exchange for electoral favours. In the bidding, the sums involved do not stop at taxable capacity. They spill over into public debt. Ever heavier indebtedness renders government difficult and the economy sluggish. Welfare promises made to attract votes cannot be fully met. The electorate grows bitter and bloody-minded and willing to listen to hare-brained extremists.

The whole thing: How many cheers for classical liberalism?

How government grows, and why it will continue to grow

This is an article calling for feminine hygiene products to be made “free” – that is, provided (somehow or other) by the government; to be recognised as a “public good”.

Continue reading How government grows, and why it will continue to grow