Ludwig Von Mises

The guy has so many great quotes. This one struck me today.

If one rejects laissez faire on account of mans fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action.

How true.


5 responses to “Ludwig Von Mises

  1. Pingback: Volunteer Voters » Rejection Perspective

  2. That sounds nice, but it doesn’t seem logical to me.

    When I decide whether or not I support a certain government action, I do so based on my understanding of a variety of useful principles, including laissez faire. If the fact that I consider principles other than laissez faire alone means I reject laissez faire…well yes…but by that measure I reject every other principle in the same way since I don’t consider any principle to be perfect and absolute and the sole criteria for making decisions.

  3. I think the point of the quote is that, if you reject a laissez faire principle because, as many will argue, man can be evil and greedy and abuse his power, you must also, to be consistent, reject the government controlling the same action. Because a government is run by men, just like a corporation, and therefore is equally (if not more likely) to suffer from greed and downfalls of great power.

    I would argue that a government is less accountable, because they use force to accomplish their goals, whereas businesses are forced, through the market, to be as efficient as possible. If they aren’t, or if they do something wrong, they end up paying for it in profit. They are also subject to lawsuits.

    How often to people sue the government and win… or accuse the government of wrong doing and get a guilty verdict in a court of law?

  4. I guess I’m saying most people reject both or neither, depending on how you define “reject.” In my opinion, most people generally agree that it is best if government not interfere but that there are reasons why sometimes it must. Because both corporations and the government wield extreme power and are controlled by selfish, fallible people, the actions of both require scrutiny and limitations to avoid abuse.

    Yes, corporations are checked by the market and driven toward efficiencies, but the timescale for optimization is not always appropriate and is generally too short: maximize profits until crooked CEO X retires and screws her employees, maximize short term profit without adequately assessing the harm done by a new drug or chemical, maximize profit by maintaining a health care system that emphasizes treatment with expensive pharma rather than prevention or cure, maximize short term profit while trashing the environment for someone else to deal with…

    I see the government as, ideally, a tool for the powerless common man to check the enormous power of corporations against abuse when otherwise he has very little (“Don’t worry about that company dumping toxic chemicals just upstream from your house. The market will take care of it.). As you point out, we also need and have means (perhaps inadequate) to check the government against abuse.

  5. Right, and that does happen. There is risk with freedom. Sometimes people do bad things.

    But, in a free society where a government exists exclusively to protect rights that are spelled out in our Constitution, people have recourse against companies that do harm to them or their families. They don’t just stop shopping there, but legal avenues exist to punish said company.

    If you give power to the government, and they abuse it, how do you get recompense? And a corporation, no matter how powerful, if not backed up by the government and force, cannot control your personal decisions. The government is the only entity that can do that. Which is reason to fear it.

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