I like Radley Balko and I like his blog. That’s why I feel obliged to take him to task for stuff like this:
Matthew Yglesias says that coercion “has a vital role to play in building a better tomorrow.”
Okay, so Yglesias isn’t a libertarian. But statements like this one from otherwise smart people continue to confound me. Even tossing out the quaint notion that a man ought to have ownership of his own body, his own labor, and what he creates with it, Yglesias still has to assume that those doing the coercing will be coercing in a way Yglesias approves, that they’ll be coercing goods and labor Yglesias is okay with, and that the coercer’s definition of “better” more or less jibes with Yglesias’s.
How often is he going to get that? And how is he going to get it? Through rule by democracy? Philosopher kings? The editorial board of The American Prospect?
To answer your question, I personally subscribe to Lockean natural rights theory. So I think some form of state is necessary to preserve those rights, from forces both internal and external. So yes, I do believe in a minimalist state, and in the taxes we’d need to impose for a criminal court system, prisons, and a national defense.
How do you get that without the very coercion that Yglesias is talking about?
Now I’ll grant that Balko is not Yglesias. Balko doesn’t want to wield government for everything Yglesias does. But what’s the difference in principle? All they really have to argue about is which projects should be imposed by force.
If Balko really doesn’t agree that such coercion has a vital role to play in building a better tomorrow then he ought to recognize that he’s an anarchist.