Thursday, April 14, 2005

Catching Up on Reading

I have finally gotten around to reading Hayek's The Road to Serfdom after not being able to find it for years. Who would have thought that it would be in economics as opposed to philosophy? And who would have thought that asking a store clerk might actually be informative? I'm no good at asking for directions either.

Anyway, back to the book, Hayek was famously against any type of large scale economic planning as being inimicable to personal liberty. Essentially he wrote that economic matters can not be sensibly separated from any other, and that the power to assign resources requires that the State have the power to aid or thwart any action the people might take.

With all of the talk lately about acitivist courts and activist legislatures, I have been seeing some of the trends he wrote about at play in today's events. Could be just a case of confirmation bias setting in, but both parties have lately been acting to bring about set goals. The knock on activist judges is that they have a set idea of justice and read the Constitution and laws in such a way to bring the end of "justice" into being. And the classic republican busybody is stereotypically all for freedom so long as people use it in a way they find moral.

One might say that a system of laws that ensures individual liberty is a goal that libertarians seek to impose, but there is a critical difference. Assuring individual liberty is a goal that presumes to judge the least according to desired results. Republican morality or Democratic political correctness both seek to dictate what are the appropriate choices for an individual to make. Say something "offensive" or flash an inappropriate body part and see the hue and cry for laws or regulations to steer society back onto the proper course.

Hayek's delineation of how results-oriented governance is inhospitable to personal responsibility brought to mind a quote from a not-so-wiseman but certifiable wiseguy:

Beware those who serve a Great Cause, for anything can be justified in it's name.

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