Welcome to the new Nobody’s Business blog.
I first got the idea to start this blog a few years ago when I was reading Rogier van Bakel’s original Nobody’s Business blog. It just struck me that our styles would work well together, and I briefly considered inviting him to join me at Windypundit. Since he was doing okay where he was, I abandoned that plan, but it planted the seed of an idea. I began to think about starting a new multi-author libertarian blog, and I started keeping a mental list of people I’d like to work with.
Nothing came of that idea until a few months ago when, out of the blue, Rogier asked me if I’d like to write some guest posts at his blog. His blogging had been slowing down a bit, he explained, and perhaps having another blogger might spur him to post more regularly. I’d been having a similar problem, so I thought about it, and then I pitched him my idea for a new blog, which he liked. I emailed a couple of other bloggers from my list, and Rick Horowitz came on board. Three bloggers is not enough, but it’s enough for a start.
We kicked around a number of ideas for blog name — Rogier and I had already wisely rejected Windy Business and Nobody’s Wind — until Rogier offered to shutter his blog and let us use the name Nobody’s Business for the new blog. So as it turned out, in a way, Rick and I were joining Rogier at Nobody’s Business after all.
This new version of Nobody’s Business is going to be a multi-author blog about libertarianism, broadly defined. We don’t have a strict road map of topics we will be blogging about, but I do have a few guideposts in mind for my own posts:
Negative liberty is Isaiah Berlin‘s term for freedom from external restraint. It’s distinct from positive liberty, which can be loosely defined as our ability to act on our desires. For my purposes, negative liberty means freedom from the coercive power of government.
Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do.
Peter McWilliams’s Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country is a free-wheeling and wide-ranging exploration of John Stuart Mill‘s harm principle, which is the idea that we should be able to do whatever we want, as long as no one gets hurt. Crucial to both Mill’s and McWilliams’s ideas is the precept that no true harm is done by any action as long as everyone involved has freely and knowingly given their consent.
(Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do is, of course, also the inspiration for Rogier’s original Nobody’s Business blog.)
Take the idea that it ain’t nobody’s business if everyone consents, apply it to economic activity, and you get the moral justification for the free market: If you want to sell, and I want to buy, it ain’t nobody else’s business.
Anarchic freedom sounds nice, but in the real world there are bad actors, and they have to be restrained or discouraged. Similarly, while free markets are terrific in theory, real world markets sometimes have failures and inefficiencies. Finally, philosophers such as John Rawls and economists such as JimLeitzel have made the case that there are certain services that government should offer.
Rule Of Law.
If we have to have government, then we should be ruled by laws and not by the arbitrary whims of rulers, no matter how they are chosen. Rule of law is more than just having laws, they have to be good laws that are easy to understand and reasonable to obey, and everybody has to obey them.
Libertarianism is a philosophy about the desired nature of government. We want government to leave us alone when we’re not hurting anyone. I think that’s also a pretty good policy for us to follow with each other.
Libertarian and free-market theories are good, but you can’t ignore reality. Economists have very good theoretical reasons for believing that raising the minimum wage causes unemployment, but statistical studies of the job market do not show strong evidence of it. Similarly, government regulation of industry causes more problems than it solves, but we’re probably going to need some kind of regulatory response to the relatively new threat of anthropogenic global warning.
There’s a joke about libertarians which says that if you propose slashing income tax rates to a mere 2%, conservatives will love you, but libertarians will damn you for the 2%. I think libertarians will never get our perfect libertopia, but there’s room in the current system to make it a lot more free.
So that’s me, or at least that’s all I could think of to put in this introductory post. I’ll probably have more to say, and I’m sure that neither of my co-bloggers will see things quite the way I do. I expect them to explain why, and I hope for an interesting conversation.
Mark is a computer programmer, website builder, photographer, and sometimes journalist in Chicago, where he also writes the long-running Windypundit blog.