Monday, August 04, 2014
A column by
Star Parker, a conservative columnist who often praises free markets, caused me to do a search for the term "regulation" on the
recently-revamped website of the Ayn Rand Institute. As a result, I was
pleasantly surprised to discover that ARI has posted the entirety of Rand's
1960's essay on regulations, "Have
Gun, Will Nudge", in which she shows exactly what is wrong with regulation
(as opposed to legitimate law). In reference to the Parker column (with which I
have many, many issues), I found the following passage particularly relevant:
Consider the implications. If the public is not competent to judge television programs and its own entertainment -- how can it be competent to judge political issues? Or economic problems? Or nuclear policies? Or international affairs? And since -- on the above premise -- the answer is that it can't, shouldn't its guardians protect it from those books and newspapers which, in the guardians' judgment, are not consonant with the public interest and would only confuse the poor incompetent that's unable to judge?In her column, Parker lauds Texas for imposing new regulations on abortion clinics. Even if we take her at her word that she sees this as an improvement to patient safety (vice a sneaky way to make abortions harder to obtain), one could just as well substitute "physicians" for "television programs", "welfare" for "entertainment", and "medical procedures" for "books and newspapers" in the above passage. Even if Parker, who opposes abortion, can't see these "regulations" for what they are -- a threat to the freedom to have an abortion in particular and to make medical choices in general -- that's the threat they do, in fact, pose.
One cannot advocate economic freedom and improper government "guidelines" at the same time. Parker ends her column by asking, "What, after all, can 'freedom' mean when it does not start with recognizing the sanctity of life?" That's a good question, although I disagree with Parker's premise that embryos constitute human lives. But one also cannot discuss freedom without knowing that it entails an individual's right to act according to his or her best judgement, even when it is wrong, so long as doing so does not violate the rights of others.