Re: Bagmen of the State

Brad Spangler, April 2005:

Let’s postulate two sorts of robbery scenarios.

In one, a lone robber points a gun at you and takes your cash. All libertarians would recognize this as a micro-example of any kind of government at work, resembling most closely State Socialism.

In the second, depicting State Capitalism, one robber (the literal apparatus of government) keeps you covered with a pistol while the second (representing State-allied corporations) just holds the bag that you have to drop your wristwatch, wallet and car keys in. To say that your interaction with the bagman was a “voluntary transaction” is an absurdity.

Matt Jenny, recently:

Imagine a diabetic who needs a shot of insulin each day. Because her supplier lives far away from her, she always stores enough insulin for one month.

One day, a burglar steals all of her insulin. As a result, the diabetic’s marginal utility of one shot of insulin increases tremendously. She is willing to pay far more for one shot than she would be if she had a full stock. Fortunately, someone comes along and offers to sell her a shotat an extremely high price though. She thankfully accepts the offer.

Now, how should we view the seller if we believe that the non-aggression principle should rule over human interactions? […] Let us assume that the seller is in no way affiliated with the burglar—neither did he pay or encourage the burglar to steal the insulin nor did he buy the insulin from him.

Brad has a response in progress, yet I felt the need to contribute my two cents due to what I see as an omission: Did the seller of the insulin know that the buyer was robbed, even if they weren’t personally involved?   Is the reason for the price premium the personally-judged worth of the insulin to the seller, or is it that someone happened to come along with a logical reason to pay that much?

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About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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