There is nothing exceptional about this story. In 1996, American taxpayers devoted at least $11.6 billion to protecting private property by means of disaster relief and disaster insurance.2 Every day, every hour, private catastrophes are averted or mitigated by public expenditures that are sometimes large, even massive, but that often go unrecognized. Americans simply assume that our public officials—national, state, and local—will routinely lay hold of public resources and expend them to salvage, or boost the value of, private rights. Despite the undesirably high incidence of crime in the United States, for instance, a majority of citizens feel relatively secure most of the time, in good measure due to the efforts of the police, publicly salaried protectors of one of our most basic liberties: personal or physical security. Location 93
Public support for the kind of “safety net” that benefited the home owners of Westhampton is broad and deep, but at the same time, Americans seem easily to forget that individual rights and freedoms depend fundamentally on vigorous state action. Without effective government, American citizens would not be able to enjoy their private property in the way they do. Indeed, they would enjoy few or none of their constitutionally guaranteed individual rights. Personal liberty, as Americans value and experience it, presupposes social cooperation managed by government officials. The private realm we rightly prize is sustained, indeed created, by public action. Not even the most self-reliant citizen is asked to look after his or her material welfare autonomously, without any support from fellow citizens or public officials. Location 100
Note: All you really have in the absence of this mechanism, is your own ability, presumably with guns, or companies for hire, in which case it isn’t clear who’s “right” or trumps another’s without an transcendent appeal. In which case, presumably you get private actors hiring private companies to go to war with one another. I’m willing to listen to the Libertarian who can get around this, in the absence of a state.
The Declaration of Independence states that “to secure these rights, Governments are established among men.” To the obvious truth that rights depend on government must be added a logical corollary, one rich with implications: rights cost money. Rights cannot be protected or enforced without public funding and support. This is just as true of old rights as of new rights, of the rights of Americans before as well as after Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Both the right to welfare and the right to private property have public costs. The right to freedom of contract has public costs no less than the right to health care, the right to freedom of speech no less than the right to decent housing. All rights make claims upon the public treasury. Location 109
Note: Without this provision, as we’ve said before rights are left to the highest bidder, so that only private purchasing power is left as the arbiter of “rights.” This undermines the libertarians own premises internally, that rights are inherent. You only have property and protection to the extent you can pay for it, and furthermore, others with more can take yours.
The term “rights” has many referents and shades of meaning. There are, broadly speaking, two distinct ways to approach the subject: moral and descriptive. The first associates rights with moral principles or ideals. It identifies rights not by consulting statutes and case law, but by asking what human beings are morally entitled to. Location 119
Within this framework, an interest qualifies as a right when an effective legal system treats it as such by using collective resources to defend it. As a capacity created and maintained by the state to restrain or redress harm, a right in the legal sense is, by definition, a “child of the law.” Location 131
Note: Rights exist only because we can appeal to regress to give them teeth. A claim alone might be comforting, but without a means available to enforce it, the claim means nothing.
Rights in the legal sense have “teeth.” They are therefore anything but harmless or innocent. Under American law, rights are powers granted by the political community. And like the wielder of any other power, an individual who exercises his or her rights may be tempted to use it badly. The right of one individual to sue another is the classic example. Because a right implies a power that can be wielded, for good or ill, over others, it must be guarded against and restricted, even while being scrupulously protected. Freedom of speech itself must be trimmed when its misuse (such as shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater) endangers public safety. A rights-based political regime would dissolve into mutually destructive and self-defeating chaos without well-designed and carefully upheld protections against the misuse of basic rights. When they are not backed by legal force, by contrast, moral rights are toothless by definition. Unenforced moral rights are aspirations binding on conscience, not powers binding on officials. Location 134
So students of collectively enforceable rights have no quarrel with those who offer moral arguments on behalf of one or another right or understanding of rights. Legal reformers should obviously strive to align politically enforceable rights with what seems to them to be morally right. And those charged with enforcing legal rights would do well to convince the public that these rights are morally well founded. Location 148
In practice, rights become more than mere declarations only if they confer power on bodies whose decisions are legally binding (as the moral rights announced in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, for example, do not). As a general rule, unfortunate individuals who do not live under a government capable of taxing and delivering an effective remedy have no legal rights. Statelessness spells rightslessness. A legal right exists, in reality, only when and if it has budgetary costs. Location 164
Note: Level 10 – Excellent. A right without an effective means to define and protect that rright becomes nothing more than a declaration. You can’t hang your hant on “Because I said so.” Since we actually have to run a real society with living people, enforcable rights with a budgetary cost are the only rights you can hang your hat on. Thus, the argument “Taxes are Theft” folds in on itself, as it becomes a self contradictory statement. Without a means to define and enforce your right to own property, you have nothing that can be stolen anyway, merely taken from your custodianship. Not to mention, since oyou were the inheritor of a nesus of instrastructure and legal ork bequeathed to you by the commons and the investments of those before you, it is unclear why one would think everything they azquire with these tools is all of “theirs” to take anyway. Taxes are Theft falls stillbown from the mouth of anyone ignorant enough to utter it.
Philosophers also distinguish between liberty and the value of liberty. Liberty has little value if those who ostensibly possess it lack the resources to make their rights effective. Freedom to hire a lawyer means little if all lawyers charge fees, if the state will not help, and if you have no money. The right to private property, an important part of liberty, means little if you lack the resources to protect what you own and the police are unavailable. Only liberties that are valuable in practice lend legitimacy to a liberal political order. Location 172
Note: Level 10 – Another beautiful and flawless articulation of the principle.
The public costs of police and fire departments contribute essentially to the “protective perimeter” that makes it possible to enjoy and exercise our basic constitutional and other rights. Location 177
Admittedly, the quality and extent of rights protection depends on private expenditures as well as on public outlays. Because rights impose costs on private parties as well as on the public budget, they are necessarily worth more to some people than to others. The right to choose one’s own defense lawyer is certainly worth more to a wealthy individual than to a poor one. Freedom of the press is more valuable to someone who can afford to purchase dozens of news organizations than to someone who sleeps under one newspaper at a time. Those who can afford to litigate obtain more value from their rights than those who cannot. Location 184
Note: Level 10 – This is why people with more money pay more taxes. Not only because they can afford it (It is unclear why you would expect a state to be funded exclusively according to who could pay the least) but because they benefitted more through the system and get rights more valuable to them. People with welath obtain more value from their rights than those with less – a good starting point for progressive taxation.
Unlike social costs, “net costs” (and benefits) cannot be temporarily put to one side. Some rights, although costly up front, increase taxable social wealth to such an extent that they can reasonably be considered self-financing. The right to private property is an obvious example. The right to education is another. Even protecting women from domestic violence may be viewed in this way, if it helps bring once-battered wives back into the productive workforce. Public investment in the protection of such rights helps swell the tax base upon which active rights protection, in other areas as well, depends. Obviously enough, the value of a right cannot be assessed by looking solely at its positive contribution to the gross national product (GNP). (While the right of prisoners to minimal medical care is not self-financing, it is no less obligatory than freedom of contract.) But the long-term budgetary impact of expenditures on rights cannot be left out of the picture. Location 200
Note: Level 10 – Jesus – And an intellectual underpissing for all Democratic economic policy. Fantastic. Through not nessesarily new, frame din this way ir provides a way to argue all social programs as a mean to increase wealth for everyone. If they bring up the debt, mention that this only works if you don’t then clash taxes for the rich, put two warws on teh cr card, dunf medicare part D, and plunge us into a recession. But highways and health programs to put us back to work fund themselves.
The widespread but obviously mistaken premise that our most fundamental rights are essentially costless cannot be plausibly traced to a failure to detect hidden costs. For one thing, the costs in question are not so terribly hidden. It is self-evident, for instance, that the right to a jury trial entails public costs. A 1989 study provides a dollar amount: the average jury trial in the United States costs the taxpayer roughly $13 thousand. Location 242
The public costs of nonwelfare rights show, among other things, that “private wealth,” as we know it, exists only because of governmental institutions. Those who attack all welfare programs on principle should be encouraged to contemplate the obvious—namely, that the definition, assignment, interpretation, and protection of property rights is a government service that is delivered to those who currently own property, while being funded out of general revenues extracted from the public at large. Location 293
Note: Though somewhat hesitant to add in essentially the same thing as we’ve seen many times before, this is a well worded version of property rights as a public service. Also, it brings up the idea of welfare. We are all recipients of government services – it’s only a matter of degree. While you work for these services, very few people actually go forever without contributing a single thing to the public treasury. Most welfare programs are temporary; in place long enough to get a person back into a position to contribute once again.
“Where there is a right, there is a remedy” is a classical legal maxim. Individuals enjoy rights, in a legal as opposed to a moral sense, only if the wrongs they suffer are fairly and predictably redressed by their government. This simple point goes a long way toward disclosing the inadequacy of the negative rights/positive rights distinction. What it shows is that all legally enforced rights are necessarily positive rights. Location 446
Note: First line of defense in Machan’s argument that only negative rights exist. The right to be left alone doesnt bear weight unless we can call forth something to protect us from private power. If that protector cant be public, but must be privately funded and paid for, then the right to property and life isnt a right anymore, its a commodity. the Liberal comception of rights is the comception that posits rights are absolutes. the Libertarian reduces them to services available only to the extent that one has purchasing power. when Rights cannot be seperated from purchasing power, it ceases to be a right. its a product. no one should have to choose whether to eat or keep ones face from being beaten in until payday.
Rights are costly because remedies are costly. Enforcement is expensive, especially uniform and fair enforcement; and legal rights are hollow to the extent that they remain unenforced. Formulated differently, almost every right implies a correlative duty, and duties are taken seriously only when dereliction is punished by the public power drawing on the public purse. There are no legally enforceable rights in the absence of legally enforceable duties, which is why law can be permissive only by being simultaneously obligatory. That is to say, personal liberty cannot be secured merely by limiting government interference with freedom of action and association. No right is simply a right to be left alone by public officials. All rights are claims to an affirmative governmental response. All rights, descriptively speaking, amount to entitlements defined and safeguarded by law. A cease-and-desist order handed down by a judge whose injunctions are regularly obeyed is a good example of government “intrusion” for the sake of individual liberty. Location 449
Note: further good follow up.
All rights are costly because all rights presuppose taxpayer funding of effective supervisory machinery for monitoring and enforcement. Location 462
The most familiar government monitors of wrongs and enforcers of rights are the courts themselves. Indeed, the notion that rights are basically “walls against the state” often rests upon the confused belief that the judiciary is not a branch of government at all, that judges (who exercise jurisdiction over policeofficers, executive agencies, legislatures, and other judges) are not civil servants living off government salaries. But American courts are “ordained and established” by government; they are part and parcel of the state. Location 464
Note: Rights are the state. Rights only have linguistic meaning to the extent we can protect them. In some Muslim countires, women who are raped dont have a right to life. This is wrong, but it is true.
THE IDEA THAT RIGHTS ARE ESSENTIALLY AIMED “against” government, rather than calling on government, is patently wrong when applied to what is sometimes called “private law.” Rights in contract law and tort law are not only enforced but also created, interpreted, and revised by public agencies. At both federal and state levels, courts and legislatures are constantly creating and readjusting the legal rules that give meaning to rights, as well as specifying and respecifying the various exceptions to these rules. By adjudication and legislation, public authorities not only enforce contracts but also decide which contracts are enforceable and which are unenforceable, unconscionable, or otherwise meaningless pieces of paper. Judges and legislators not only award damages to the victims of negligence but also identify which excuses are legally acceptable for what might otherwise be classified as negligent behavior. Location 518
ACCORDING TO THE BRITISH PHILOSOPHER JEREMY BENTHAM, “property and law are born together and die together. Before the laws there was no property; take away the laws, all property ceases.”1 Every first-year law student learns that private property is not an “object” or a “thing” but a complex bundle of rights. Property is a legally constructed social relation, a cluster of legislatively and judicially created and judicially enforceable rules of access and exclusion. Without government, capable of laying down and enforcing compliance with such rules, there would be no right to use, enjoy, destroy, or dispose of the things we own. This is obviously true for rights to intangible property (such as bank accounts, stocks, or trademarks), for the right to such property cannot be asserted by taking physical possession, only by an action at law. But it is equally true of tangible property. If the wielders of the police power are not on your side, you will not successfully “assert your right” to enter your own home and make use of its contents. Property rights are meaningful only if public authorities use coercion to exclude nonowners, who, in the absence of law, might well trespass on property that owners wish to maintain as an inviolable sanctuary. Moreover, to the extent that markets presuppose a reliable system of recordation, protecting title from never-ending challenge, property rights simultaneously presuppose the existence of many competent and honest and adequately paid civil servants outside the police force. My rights to enter, use, exclude from, sell, bequeath, mortgage, and abate nuisances threatening “my” property palpably presuppose a well-organized and well-funded court system. Location 645
Note: The idea of property as you know it doesn’t exist without a coersive force available to exclude other from taking it. Of course, if you buy Libertarianism, you buy the idea that you and your big gun will keep all the bad guys away. But not everyone can win an arms race. People are fond of saying “Who are these angels that are going to run sociiety in your Socialist Utopia?” By the same token, who are these angels that will leave everyone alone, respect the property and posessions of everyone, and resist the tempation to take from others less powerful? The foundation of wealth creation, and thus, everything that we enjoy that makes our lives today good lives from a material standpoint, reduces to the ability to own capital and exclude others from taking it, and reaping from it the rewards of it’s productivity, and entertainment. Not everyong can have the biggest gun. Thus, property rights exist as we know them, only because we have a transendent appeal to law that no one can usurp, that protects your property and exludes it’s use by those not entitlement to it. Since this cannot be free, it must be paid for. For this to work, it has to be provided to everyone. To exlude free riders and collective action problems, fees for this service must be levied on behalf of the public. You are buying the ability to create wealth and have a good life. Without this, your life goes back to defending yourself from fraud and theft instead of entertaiment and productivity.
None of this denies that protection of property rights can be a valuable investment that increases aggregate wealth over time. On the contrary, the extraction and redistribution of resources necessary to protect property rights is relatively easy to justify. Indeed, American liberalism, like its counterparts elsewhere in the world, is based on the reasonable premise that public investment in the creation and maintenance of a system of private property is richly repaid, not least of all because reliably enforced property rights help increase social wealth and therefore, among other benefits, swell the tax base upon which government can draw to protect other kinds of rights. But the strategic wisdom of an initial investment does not undo the fact that it is an investment. Location 680
Note: The taxation (thift of property as the Libertarians would frame it) is itself the very fuel for the growth of the machine that allows us create, maintain, and accumulate and build more wealth over time. Along with the fact that wealth is created from previous investments bequeathed to you, the idea that the extraction of weath is nessesary for the foundation of property rights to be defensible to begin with. Their argument is incorerent, in a sense.
An effective liberal government, designed to repress force and fraud, must avoid arbitrary and authoritarian tactics. Those who wield the tools of coercion must be institutionally disciplined into using it for public, not private, purposes. Ideally conceived, a liberal government extracts resources from society fairly and efficiently and redeploys them skillfully and responsibly to produce socially useful public goods and services, such as the deterrence of theft. A successful liberal state must be politically well organized in precisely this sense. Its government must be capable of creating a favorable business climate in which investors are confident that they will reap rewards tomorrow for efforts made today. Without such a state, well-functioning markets, capable of producing prosperity, are very unlikely to emerge or survive. A state capable of reliably repressing force and fraud and enforcing property rights is a cooperative achievement of the first magnitude, and the world is unfortunately filled with negative examples. But if private rights depend essentially on public resources, there can be no fundamental opposition between “government” and “free markets,” no contradiction between politically orchestrated social cooperation and footloose individual liberty. Location 713
Note: Level 10 – Herein lies more or less, the end of the argument of Libertarianism. “The Surprising Design of Markets” is no longer really even needed, since conversationally, this would replace probably all of it. Now, along with Myth of Ownerships great argument, we have another, which is just as damning. It is more or less all we need to dismantle Libertarianism. 1) You build you’re wealth on the investments of others, using the public goods, thus you owe back into the system. Myth of Ownership. 2) Seperating “Government” from “Free Markets” is literally incoherent. The “Free Market” is based upon a foundation of Property rights, which are defended by wealth extracted from the markets to support a legal system, court system, and investments that are antecedent to markets working effectively to begin with. It’s a false dichotomy. One of the most important passages of the book. So the “taxation is theft” frame is a contradictory feedback loop. You earned the wealth not only with prior investments in Infrastructuer, but also, in a system where a modest extraction of taxes is nessesary for the property rights that make the entire market system possible. So when Chris says he just used a shovel and some modest tools to “build is business” he is missing a much larger nexus of connections that make all of this, everything, possible.
A liberal economy cannot function unless people are willing to rely on each other’s word. For a market to be national, and not merely local, reliance must extend beyond a small circle of mutual acquaintances. In such a system, reliance on the word of relative strangers cannot arise from personal reputations for fairness alone. It must be cultivated and reinforced by public institutions. For one thing, the government must make courts and other institutions available to enforce contracts. Public authorities cultivate the “reliance interest” by attaching property and foreclosing liens. Judges can send an individual to jail for contempt of court if he fails to comply with an order to carry out a contract lawfully entered into. Location 787
Note: No you can’t just “ask around” the “community” to see if a business is reliable. Theft and grievance can’t be addressed in a small area if that sphere is easily left. In today’s world rights have teeth beca u se they are enforceable everywhere.
Likewise, laws against defamation, geared to the protection of business and financial reputations, help foster economically beneficial social trust. If contracts were not reliably enforced, it would be more difficult and perhaps even impossible to buy goods on cr or by installment. Without the active help of a sheriff, authorized by a court writ, a seller could not easily repossess consumer goods from a defaulting installment purchaser. More generally, payment by the installment plan, beneficial for the economy as a whole, would be shunned if contracts were not reliably enforced. Location 791
Note: Even yelp and your online resources can be fudged by defamation. Law protects you even from that. Payment systems and cr, complex agreements precipitated from the knowledge default can reliably be addressed is possible because we have redress against defaulters.
In the truly autonomous realm, beyond the reach of government, property is not well protected. (In the abandoned warehouse at the edge of town where you lost your wallet, your right to your property is not worth much.) Where the public power cannot effectively intrude, moreover, extortion is rampant and borrowers are unable to obtain long-term loans, for one function of the liberal state is to lengthen the time horizons of private actors by predictably enforcing known and stable rules. Property is worth little if you, and potential purchasers, do not believe in the future. Confidence in long-term stability is partly a product of reliable law enforcement, that is, of forceful and decisive state action. Location 796
Note: Beautiful passage on the foundation of markets relying on confidence and enforcability. Government gives us a confidence in the future otherwise impossible allowing decisions beneficial to growth to occur. Level 9, market design, rights, property.
But the first thing a government must do to make a market system work is to overcome the age-old rule of force and threats of force. Free markets do not function properly if profit-seekers uninhibitedly engage in criminal violence. Libertarians recognize this fact, but they fail to appreciate the extent to which it undermines their boasted opposition to “government” as well as to taxing and spending. Long-gestation investment in productive facilities, which creates jobs, is unlikely where assets are indefensible against private extortionists. Neoclassical economics supposes that private competitors will not resort to violent crime in the pursuit of gain. Within its own framework, laissez-faire theory is helpless to explain the basis of civilization, the general renunciation of violence by advantage-seeking individuals and groups. Why do most American entrepreneurs hesitate to threaten and kill their competitors? The theory of free markets, as it is currently taught in American universities, tacitly assumes that the problems of short time horizons and violent competition, characterizing the state of nature, have already been solved. For the most part, in other words, the science of economics (unlike, say, the science of anthropology) tacitly presupposes the existence of an active and reliable system of criminal justice. Location 801
Note: Level 10 – the foundations of civilization rely on things already assumed by the majority of sensible poeple.
Even on their own terms, doctrinaire libertarians must acknowledge that government cannot “pull out” of the economy without leaving private individuals helplessly vulnerable to ruthless predators. The relatively peaceful exchange of goods and services, as we know it, is a product of civilized self-restraint and therefore should be understood as a historically improbable and fragile achievement. In the state of nature, a handful of killers and thieves willing to employ deadly force and hazard their lives on a dare can cow a large civilian population. They can establish anticompetitive monopolies, for instance, and dramatically shrink the sphere of voluntary exchange. Only a reliable public power can break such an anarchical reign of fear and legal uncertainty. Only a state can create a vibrant market. Furthermore, only a national government can weave together disconnected local markets into a single national market. For why would a wholesaler in New Jersey sell to a retailer in California if contracts could not be reliably enforced across state lines? Location 810
Note: God. Level 11. Perhaps the greatest passage of all time, not sure what to add.
If the government wholly disengages from the economy, the economy will not be free in the sense we admire, and it will certainly not produce the historically unprecedented prosperity to which many Americans have grown accustomed. Voluntary exchanges will occur, as they do even in the poorest of countries, and we may see inchoate versions of well-functioning markets. But government inaction creates an economic system vexed by force, monopoly, intimidation, and narrow localisms. The individual’s freedom, his “right to be left alone” by thugs and thieves, cannot be separated from his entitlement to state help—that is, his claim to a range of public services (basic legal provisions and protections) from the government. The effort of social coordination it takes to build even a “minimal” state, capable of repressing force and threats of force, is truly massive and should not be taken for granted. Location 817
Note: Level 10 – Addresses all of Libertarianism and all common objections. Even the “would” part.
Capitalists certainly know this and tend not to invest where political risk is excessive, as in some of the emerging Eastern European democracies. Their problem is not too much government but too little government. When government is incoherent, incompetent, and unpredictable, economic actors do not think very far into the future. Not free-enterprise but robber capitalism—the rule of the violent and the unscrupulous—thrives in the absence of law and order. Location 823
Note: Level 10
In the absence of government machinery capable of detecting and remedying misrepresentation and false dealing, free exchange would be an even more risky business than it is. The act of buying and selling is often worrisome in the absence of reliable means to counteract the asymmetry of knowledge between buyer and seller. The seller frequently knows something the buyer needs to know. That is one reason why the risk-averse fear commercial exchanges as possible scams, why they cling to suppliers they know personally rather than shopping around for bargains. Public officials can discourage this kind of clinging, promote market ordering, and discourage swindlers by insuring against any damage arising from the asymmetry of information between buyers and sellers. To help consumers make rational choices about where to obtain cr, for instance, the Consumer Cr Protection Act forces any organization that extends cr to disclose its finance charges and annual percentage rate. Just so, consumers benefit from competitive markets in restaurants because, as voters and taxpayers, they have created and funded sanitation boards that allow them to range adventurously beyond a restricted circle of personally known and trusted establishments. The enforcement of disclosure rules or antifraud statutes is no less a taxpayer-funded spur to market behavior than government inspection of food handlers. Location 839
The appropriate level of federal spending and government oversight will remain controversial. Nothing said above is intended as a defense of any particular program; some existing programs should undoubtedly be scaled down. What cannot be denied is that enforceable antifraud legislation is a common good, embodying biblically simple moral principles (keep your promises, tell the truth, cheating is wrong). Moreover, the benefits of antifraud law cannot be captured by a few but are diffused widely throughout society. It is a public service, collectively provided, and serving to reduce transaction costs and promote a free-wheeling atmosphere of buying and selling that would be very unlikely to arise if “caveat emptor!” were the sole rule. Location 848
Admittedly, the current economic boom in China suggests that, when suitably integrated into the world economy, a society without a strong court system can use kinship and other informal networks to breed credible commitments even in the absence of reliable judicial enforcement of property rights. In most industrialized societies and as a general rule, however, free markets depend on enforceable contract law and a liberal style of governance. To deter fraud, a government must be interventionist and well funded. American taxpayers have proven willing to foot the bill partly because they see the obvious advantages in the monitoring of private exchanges by politically accountable officials. Location 854
Needless to say, the rights of accused Americans—rich and poor, black and white—are not protected equally. But our criminal justice system would be even more grossly unfair if the community as a whole did not subsidize some basic protections. In the 1996 U.S. budget, covering only federal trials, $81 million went to fees and expenses for obtaining witnesses.6 The accused does not have to rely on his own resources to compel witnesses to testify in his favor; he is legally entitled to employ resources drawn from the community as a whole. Ability to pay bears no rational relation to innocence or guilt. This, at least, is the Supreme Court’s explicit rationale for the right of the indigent accused, even on appeal, to a lawyer whose salary will be paid by the public. Equal protection implies a constitutional right of access to whatever appellate process a state makes generally available.7 Under existing law, American taxpayers must pay for blood grouping tests for indigent defendants in paternity cases and for psychiatric assistance for indigent defendants in some criminal cases. And to ensure that court-appointed attorneys are not in the pocket of the prosecutor, some sort of independent supervision is obviously required. Location 911
Note: The most fundamental form of freedom relies on redistribution. The very thing people like to call freedom is predicated on a call upin the public treasury for resources and investments paid for by society. In this sense taxation is called upon to provide what is essentially “insurance” to insure freedom is maintained. The mystery to me is where some people got the idea that freeedom is free. In a system without redistributive mechanisms freedom belongs to whoever want to take things from you or kill you. the winner of the arms race. living ones life in this way is no definition of freedom based in reality.
Racially restrictive covenants between private buyers and sellers can be challenged under the equal protection clause because private contracts are hollow unless the government makes its full coercive powers available to enforce them. Location 1032
Note: Antecedent to all trade is the ability to enforce agreements, fostering confidence and insuring consented transactions take place for profit. Without the ability to enforce a contract, through coercive, you don’t have markets and then don’t have prosperity. Some people use this more than others, making the value essentiakky redistriburive in nature.
To enforce rights consistently, public authorities must also bring the full force of the law down upon private individuals who try to inflict physical injury upon other private individuals simply because the latter are exercising their rights. This is yet another way in which personal liberty presupposes active government performance—and yet another reason why rights have costs. Location 1053
Note: Government is the means whereby we can *consistently* insure freedom for all people across all races, incomes, and genders. Freedom is freedom insofar as everyone has access to it. The law recognizes everyone equally. Exceptions of flaws or failures exist, but no system is perfect – but this is certainly better than nothing more than “rights” being defined by who has the most strength and guns to do whatever he wants to whoever he wants. In the world where everything is presumably private, freedom pretty much means the same thing as purchasing power.
The possibility of abusive suits must be taken into account by legislators and judges who determine the conditions under which the right to sue fails. The American legal system makes continuous remedial and compensatory adjustments to handle the unintended side effects that necessarily occur whenever the government hands individuals the discretionary right to wield the public power, to dip into the public purse. Location 1190
Note: Addresses the argument coming that government and the courts ate corrupt. That they aren’t perfect is understood, but they have corrective measures not available in a market system.
But—it will be asked—are not some human interests intrinsic and not merely instrumental goods? While some things are valuable merely as means, are not other things good in themselves, because of the good things that they, on balance, bring into being? True, freedom of speech serves to improve the quality of public decision-making and to reduce the level of government corruption. But is it not also valued for its own sake, simply because censorship is an indignity, an insult to human autonomy? The answer is yes: some interests do have intrinsic value. But even intrinsic goods have costs; they cannot exist without public effort and a substantial expenditure of resources. Protecting rights that are valued for their own sake will entail dangers, downsides, unintended side effects, opportunity costs, and other troubles, for there are few gains without losses. Location 1193
This is why freedom of expression and communication is sometimes described as the liberty on which all other liberties depend. Location 1248
Note: And the state could be said to be the same thing. The freedom to assemble and elect a Government is the freedom upon which all others depend, for rights that cant be protected cease to be rights. Calls upon the public treasury are necessary, and since not everyone can contribute equally, redistribution is messed a
In this particular way, freedom of speech does not simply require that the government adopt a hands-off approach, for maintaining open public spaces will ordinarily entail nontrivial public expenses, presupposing a degree of compulsory taxing and spending. The right to set up a soapbox and enter a publicly subsidized space where listeners can gather and supporters parade imposes costs on some citizens for the benefit of others. Indeed, the Supreme Court has strongly suggested that the government cannot charge the immediate users of freedom of speech, such as protesters in a public park, for the expenses for speech-related activities.7 All taxpayers, including those who are not especially free-speaking or interested in protest, must pay. Strollers do not need to purchase tickets to walk around in most public parks. Similarly, legal rights are subsidized by taxes levied on the community at large, not by fees paid by the individuals who happen to be exercising them at the moment. Because this is a necessary, not an accidental arrangement, redistribution in the field of rights protection seems to be inevitable. Location 1289
Note: Another good explaination or why rights are inherently redistributive.
And local and state governments must use general tax revenues to put into place all the preconditions for fair elections, since they cannot condition the right to vote on the payment of an individualized poll tax or user fee. Such a governmentally managed subsidy is necessarily redistributive. Location 1320
Note: Creating the conditions for a state to exist requires redistributive measures.
The money for such remedial activities and, more generally, for organizing and carrying out free and fair elections is extracted from both willing and unwilling taxpayers, from voters and nonvoters alike. Voting would be a very different act, would bear a very different social meaning, if voters alone had to pay a fee to defray the public costs of conducting an election, instead of all taxpayers having to pay. That a modest form of compulsory redistribution is involved is obviously not an argument against the right to vote. Indeed, we are so used to the taxing and spending presupposed by representative government that we simply take it for granted. Location 1331
If both the right to free speech and the right to vote require public expenditures, presuppose redistributive decisions, and are relative rather than absolute goods, the same is likely to be true of other rights as well. The Fourth Amendment confers protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. It obliges the government to perform a service that can, under some conditions, be extremely expensive—namely, to monitor police behavior accurately and to deter misbehavior by a fair but also swift and reliable system of punishment. And if citizens are to hold police officers accountable for their actions, they must also finance the procedural protections that accused officers, too, deserve. As a practical matter, resources extracted from the taxpayer will have to be targeted to ensure that lethally armed police officers neither behave unlawfully nor are falsely convicted of behaving unlawfully. Private liberty depends on the quality of public institutions. Location 1335
Property rights encourage individuals to improve their property by allowing owners to capture the benefits of improvement. This arrangement is a social one created for social purposes; it has a perceptibly positive effect on a nation’s real estate and capital stock. Other seemingly individual rights are likewise collectively conferred, designed, reshaped, interpreted, adjusted, and enforced to promote what are widely seen as collective interests. They are protected by public institutions, including legislatures and courts, for collective reasons. Admittedly, and importantly, rights may operate in some sense “against” the collectivity once they are vested in individuals. Government may not confiscate property simply because a majority wants to do so. But even in such cases, rights are guaranteed in the first instance both by and for the collectivity. Since it has no existence apart from the individuals who compose it, a collectivity can define, confer, interpret, and protect rights only if it is politically well organized and only if it can act in a coherent manner through the instrumentality of an accountable government. Location 1350
Arguing that rights serve collective purposes, the philosopher Joseph Raz remarks, “If I were to choose between living in a society which enjoys freedom of expression, but not having the right myself, or enjoying the right in a society which does not have it, I would have no hesitation in judging that my own personal interest is better served by the first option.”6 The right to free expression benefits individuals largely because of its social consequences: diminishing the risk of ill-considered government action, promoting scientific progress, encouraging the dissemination of knowledge, and ensuring that government oppression or abuse will sometimes be met by clamorous protest. Individuals in a society without free speech suffer most from what the lack of freedom does to that society. So, too, are both individual and social welfare promoted by the rights to a fair trial, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and freedom of religion. In all these cases, the relevant right helps secure goods for many people beyond those who personally assert it at the moment. This is one reason why most rights are funded out of general revenues rather than by narrowly targeted user fees. Location 1358
Note: Use this as one of the main arguments for redistribution and taxarion.
Those who object to welfare rights because they cost money should not assume that property rights can be fully safeguarded, for the conventional contrast between aspirational welfare rights and limited property rights does not survive scrutiny. Our freedom from government interference is no less budget-dependent than our entitlement to public assistance. Location 1388
To take account of this unstable reality, therefore, we ought not to conceive of rights as floating above time and place, or as absolute in character. It is more realistic and more productive to define rights as individual powers deriving from membership in, or affiliation with, a political community, and as selective investments of scarce collective resources, made to achieve common aims and to resolve what are generally perceived to be urgent common problems. Location 1439
Note: A very good and realistic definition of Rights.
They urge that the interest in environmental protection is systematically undervalued in ordinary political processes, and that future generations deserve protection against environmental degradation perpetrated by those now living, who, being myopic and self-interested, are all too likely to act as faithless trustees. As theoretical arguments, these claims have considerable force. Location 1446
Note: It is strange that Conservatives constantly bitch about leveraging our children’s future for the present by leaving them mired in debt, but never memtion leaving them with a wrecked environment.
Rights remain rights even though they will not always be enforced to the hilt, or even as thoroughly as would be possible were resources more plentiful or taxpayers more open-handed. Trade-offs in rights enforcement must and will be made. Scarce resources will be allocated between monitoring the police and (for example) paying and training the police, between monitoring the police and monitoring electoral officers, between monitoring the police and providing legal aid to the poor, providing food stamps to the poor, educating the young, nursing the elderly, financing national defense, or protecting the environment. Location 1525
But they do suggest that, in reality, no right can be uncompromisable, for rights enforcement, like everything costly, is inevitably incomplete. Location 1535
Note: You’re not going to get perfection
To escape the state of nature means to obtain a wholly new kind of interest: a legal right, that is, a claim that carries with it serious responsibilities. All legally enforceable rights are “artificial” in the sense that they presuppose the existence of that imposing human artifice, the public power, designed to promote social cooperation and inhibit mutual harm. Location 1782
Note: With rights come responsibilities. The right to earn wealth carries with it the responsibility to pay for the public investments that make our wealth possible.