The Perfect Gift for Your Country

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Did you wait till the last minute to go holiday shopping for your country?

Are you desperately searching for the perfect gift for that special nation you love, and it’s too late for Amazon delivery?

Why not get that special country in your life a free, dynamic, entrepreneurial economy?

OCPA carries my latest, part 1 of 2, in which I defend the open economy against socialists and economic nationalists alike:

Witness, for example, the outrageous new law in California that strips the citizens of that state of their right to do more than minimal amounts of work in the “gig economy.” Designed to pay off corrupt taxi cartels and other special interests by arbitrarily shutting down superior competitors such as Uber and Lyft, the law crippled thousands of freelance drivers, writers, musicians, designers, and other workers.

Uber and Lyft just got themselves exempted from the law by backing a statewide referendum on Election Day, but everyone else is stuck under its thumb. Now, the state is making exceptions for some types of workers, piecemeal, based on who has enough political power or connections to move the whims of the iron-fisted political rulers. Musicians got themselves exempted by buttering up the egos of legislators with celebrity prestige—an industry group sent a personalized gold record to the law’s lead sponsor. But as far as the political ruling class care, writers might as well just give up and die, and reduce the surplus population. How this arbitrary privilege differs from, say, Julius Caesar’s rule over the Roman plebs is a question we can leave to the philosophers.

This is not about whether we can have reasonable regulations and welfare programs, etc. This is about whether the basic foundation of our system is human rights and equality under the rule of law, or the privilege of the powerful – whether of the Left or Right:

The basic issue here is whether we’re going to begin with a robust moral commitment to equal respect for human rights under the rule of law—rights to work, property, contract, and exchange—and then negotiate at the margins over such issues as taxes, public safety, welfare, and social stability. Or if we’re going to let politicians arbitrarily strip people of their rights, on a whim, like they’re Roman emperors sitting on their gold thrones (or California legislators hanging gold records on their office walls). Whether the justification is nationalism or socialism, that’s not right, and it’s not hard to see the social and humanitarian disaster it would create.

Coming after the holidays, part 2, in which I take up the more specific claim that the open economy is delegitimized by the legacy of slavery and segregation – that all the 18th-century rhetoric about property and contract rights is really just a mask for white supremacy.

Catch you on the flip side, and until then, enjoy the holidays and Happy New Year!

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