12 March 2008

Reflexive inactivity

Brian Moore, in a good post about us 'crazy legalizing libertarians':

This might be a bit nitpicky, but I also like the abuse of the term “reflex,” as if cultural libertarians were reactively doing something in this situation. It works for cultural moralism — when confronted with the stimulus of prostitution, they spring into action by calling for prohibition. When the cultural libertarians hear of prostitution, they say, “So?” You can’t reflexively do nothing.
I dunno -- I suppose amongst the blogger community the libertarians are a bit more considered and thoughtful about their preference for private action, but most regular, workaday libertarians I know are actually exactly like this: present them with a new potential policy problem, and their gut reaction is, "So what?" In other words, "please now provide arguments for why this problem needs solving on a coercive, governmental scale." In fact, I'd go so far as to argue that this is the distinguishing characteristic of the natural-born libertarian -- a robust intuition that the burden of proof is always on the party proposing new/more governmental action.