The Market for Liberty: Quote List

The following is a list of quotes I found worth keeping, sharing, processing, writing about, or in general just enjoy. As is typical, I will attempt to write about these quotes. Either how they personally effected me, or just a couple interesting observations on it.

The Market for Liberty by Morris and Linda Tannehill

– Highlight on Page 3
If we don’t know where we’re going, chances are we won’t get there! Our world is increasingly stirred with dissatisfication. Myriads of people on every continent are whispering or shouting or writing or rioting their discontent with the structures of their societies. And they have a lot to be dissatisfied with—poverty which increases in step with increasingly expensive anti-poverty programs, endlessly heavier burdens of taxation and regulation piled on by unmindful bureaucrats, the long death-agonies of meaningless mini-wars, the terrible, iron-fisted knock of secret police … Youth are especially dissatisfied. Many long to turn the world upside down, in hopes that a better, freer, more humane society will emerge. But improvements in man’s condition never come as a result of blind hope, pious prayers, or random chance; they are the product of knowledge and thought. Those who are dissatisfied must discover what sort of being man is and, from this, what kind of society is required for him to function most efficiently and happily. If they are unwilling to accept this intellectual responsibility, they will only succeed in exchanging our present troubles for new, and probably worse, ones. An increasing number of people are beginning to suspect that governmental actions are the cause of many of our social ills. Productive citizens, on whom the prosperity of nations depends, resent being told (in ever more minute detail) how to run their business and their lives. Youth resent being drafted into involuntary servitude as hired killers. The poor are finding, to their bitter disappointment, that government can bleed the economy into anemia but that all its grandiose promises and expensive programs can do nothing but freeze them in their misery. And everyone is hurt by the accelerating spiral of taxes and inflation.

– Highlight on Page 10
Most self-styled planners and builders of societies haven’t even  considered that man might have a specific nature. They have  regarded him as something infinitely plastic, as the product of  his cultural or economic milieu, as some sort of identity-less  blob which they could mold to suit their plans. This lack of  realization that man has a specific nature which requires that he  function in a specific way has given rise to floods of tears and  blood … as social planners tried to wrench man apart and put  him back together in a form they found more to their liking.

– Highlight on Page 10
But because man is, he is something—a being with a specific  nature, requiring a specific type of society for his proper  functioning as a human being.

– Highlight on Page 11
In spite of traditional “moralities” which glorify “a life of sacrificial service to others,” sacrifice can never benefit anyone. It demoralizes both the giver, who has diminished his total store of value, and the recipient, who feels guilty about accepting the sacrifice and resentful because he feels he is morally bound to return the “favor” by sacrificing some value of his own. Sacrifice, carried to its ultimate end, results in death; it is the exact opposite of moral, pro-life behavior, traditional “moralists” to the contrary notwithstanding.

– Highlight on Page 19
There is a great and growing conflict in our world between those  who want to be free and those who want to rule (together with  those who want to be ruled). This great conflict has been taking  shape for centuries, but the vast majority of people have never  understood what it was all about because they haven’t seen that  the issue was freedom versus slavery. Because they have believed  that men must be governed, most people have been, however,  unwittingly and apathetically on the side of slavery.

– Highlight on Page 20
If a mother goes without a new dress to buy a coat for her child whom she loves, that is not a sacrifice but a gain—her child’s comfort was of more value to her than the dress. But if she deprives herself and the child by giving the money to the local charity drive so that people won’t think she’s “selfish,” that is a sacrifice.

– Highlight on Page 21
Government bureaucrats and their allies among the currently influential opinion-molders have made a practice of spreading misinformation about the nature of a free market. They have accused the market of instability and economic injustice and have misrepresented it as the origin of myriads of evils from poverty to “the affluent society.” Their motives are obvious. If people can be made to believe that the laissez-faire system of a free, unregulated market is inherently faulty, then the bureaucrats and their cohorts in classrooms and editorial offices will be called in to remedy the situation. In this way, power and influence will flow to the bureaucrats … and bureaucrats thrive on power.

– Highlight on Page 22
The United States of America, though theoretically a free  country, suffers from an almost unbelievable amount of market  regulation.1 Though often called a capitalistic country, the  U.S.A. actually has a mixed economy—a mixture of some  government-permitted “freedom,” a little socialism, and a lot of  fascism.

– Highlight on Page 22
A market is a network of voluntary economic exchanges; it includes all willing exchanges which do not involve the use of coercion against anyone. (If A hires B to murder C, this is not a market phenomenon, as it involves the use of initiated force against C. Because force destroys values and disrupts trade, the market can only exist in an environment of peace and freedom; to the extent that force exists, the market is destroyed. Initiated force, being destructive of the market, cannot be a part of the market.)

– Highlight on Page 22
When two people make a trade, each one expects to gain from it (if this were not so, the trade wouldn’t be made). And, if each trader has correctly estimated how much he values the things being traded, each does gain. This is possible because each person has a different frame of reference and, therefore, a different scale of values. For example, when you spend 30¢ for a can of beans, you do so because the can of beans is more valuable to you than the 30¢ (if it weren’t, you wouldn’t make the purchase). But, to the grocer, who has 60 cases of canned beans, the 30¢ is more valuable than one can of beans. So, both you and the grocer, acting from your different frames of reference, gain from your trade. In any trade in which the traders have correctly estimated their values and in which they are free to trade on the basis of these values without any outside interference, both buyer and seller must gain.

– Highlight on Page 33
remember that it is not the absolute size of the firm which  counts, but the size of the firm relative to its market. In the  1800s, the little country grocery store had a far firmer control  of its market than does the largest chain of big-city  supermarkets today. Advances in ease and economy of  transportation continually decrease the relative size of even the  most giant firm, thus making even temporary market monopoly  status vastly more difficult to attain. So the free market moves  toward the elimination, rather than the encouragement, of monopolies.

– Highlight on Page 44
Every individual person has the responsibility to discover what  his interests are and to work toward their achievement. When government takes some of this responsibility away from the  individual, it must also take away some of his freedom of  action i.e., it must violate human rights. Further, when  government forces an individual to act against his proper  interests, it is forcing him to act against his own rational  judgment. Such an action, in effect, puts the opinions and whims  of others between a man and his perception of reality and, thus, compels him to sacrifice his basic tool of survival—his mind

– Highlight on Page 58
Labor, being scarcer than resources, would be in demand, and everyone who wanted a job could have one. When faced with a demand for labor produced by new prosperity and soaring sales, industry would be eager to hire minority group members, institute on-the-job training for the uneducated, set up plant nurseries for mothers of small children, hire the handicapped, etc., to tap every source of competent labor. Wages would be high because businesses could keep what bureaucrats call their “excess profits” and invest them in machinery to increase the productivity of their labor (and wages are determined by productivity).

– Highlight on Page 59
Furthermore, when parents knew that there was no government to pick up the tab for them, they would be likely to think twice before taking on the responsibility of having a greater number of children than they could adequately care for and educate.

– Highlight on Page 68
In a laissez-faire society, only gold would be accepted as the standard of monetary value—there can be only one standard (and the free market has established gold as the commodity which is the standard of value).

– Highlight on Page 135
The question is not whether “the private sector” can afford the  cost of defending individuals but how much longer individuals can  afford the fearsome and dangerous cost of coerced governmental  “defense” (which is, in reality, defense of the government, for  the government . . . by the citizens).

– Highlight on Page 131
If the facts indicated that the aggressor was of an untrustworthy and/or violent nature, he would have to work off his debt while under some degree of confinement. The confinement would be provided by rectification companies—firms specializing in this field, who would maintain debtors workhouses (use of the term “prison” is avoided here because of the connotations of value-destruction attached to it). The labor of the men confined would be furnished to any companies seeking assured sources of labor, either by locating the debtors workhouses adjacent to their plants or by transporting the debtors to work each day. The debtors would work on jobs for wages, just as would ordinary employees, but the largest part of their earnings would be used to make reparations payments, with most of the rest going for their room and board, maintenance of the premises, guards, etc. To insure against refusal to work, the reparations payment would be deducted from each pay before room and board costs, so that if a man refused to work he would not eat, or at most would eat only a very minimal diet. There would be varying degrees of confinement to fit various cases. Many debtors workhouses might provide a very minimum amount of security, such as do a few present-day prison farms where inmates are told, “There are no fences to keep you here; however, if you run away, when you are caught you will not be allowed to come back here but will be sent to a regular prison instead.” Such workhouses would give the debtor a weekly allowance out of his pay, with opportunities to buy small luxuries or, perhaps, to rent a better room. Weekend passes to visit family and friends, and even more extended vacations, might be arranged for those who had proved themselves sufficiently trustworthy.

– Highlight on Page 149
A familiar example of natural law is the law of gravity. It is the nature of the earth to attract other bodies to itself, so when you drop something, it falls. This law is objective, universal, and inescapable. You may fly an airplane by making use of the natural laws of aerodynamics, but you have not thereby contradicted or repealed the law of gravity—the earth is still pulling downward on your plane, as you will discover if your engine fails. Natural law applies to man as well as to his environment, because man is also an entity with a specific nature. Some actions are possible to man, and some are not. He can walk and run, but he can’t turn into a pine tree. Since he is a being with a specific nature, man requires a specific course of action for his survival and well-being. He must eat or he will starve. His body requires certain substances to remain healthy—vitamin C to prevent scurvy, for example. If he wants to know something, he must use his senses and his mind to learn it. If he wants the great survival-values of friendship, trade, division of labor and sharing of knowledge, he must seek and merit human companionship.

– Highlight on Page 153
“If the revolution comes by violence, and in advance of light,  the old struggle will have to be begun again.”—Benjamin R. Tucker

– Highlight on Page 186
Picture a small South American dictatorship, weakened by economic stresses and a popular demand for more freedom, resulting from the existence of a laissez-faire society nearby. What would the dictator of such a country do if faced by a large and powerful insurance company and its defense service (or even a coalition of such companies) demanding that he remove all taxes, trade restrictions, and other economic aggressions from, say, a mining firm protected by the insurance company? If the dictator refuses the demand, he faces an armed confrontation which will surely oust him from his comfortable position of rule. His own people are restless and ready to revolt at any excuse. Other nations have their hands full with similar problems and are not eager to invite more trouble by supporting his little dictatorship. Besides this, the insurance company, which doesn’t recognize the validity of governments, has declared that in the event of aggression against its insured it will demand reparations payments, not from the country as a whole, but from every individual directly responsible for directing and carrying out the aggression. The dictator hesitates to take such an awful chance, and he knows that his officers and soldiers will be very reluctant to carry out his order. Even worse, he can’t arouse the populace against the insurance company by urging them to defend themselves—the insurance company poses no threat to them. A dictator in such a precarious position would be strongly tempted to give in to the insurance company’s demands in order to salvage what he could (as the managers of the insurance company were sure he would before they undertook the contract with the mining firm). But even giving in will not save the dictator’s government for long As soon as the insurance company can enforce noninterference with the mining company, it has created an enclave of free territory within the dictatorship. When it becomes evident that the insurance company can make good its offer of protection from the government, numerous businesses and individuals, both those from the laissez-faire society and citizens of the dictatorship, will rush to buy similar protection (a lucrative spurt of sales foreseen by the insurance company when it took its original action). At this point, it is only a matter of time until the government crumbles from lack of money and support, and the whole country becomes a free area.

– Highlight on Page 214
Throughout history, the vast majority of people have believed that government was a necessary part of human existence … and so there have always been governments. People have believed they had to have a government because their leaders said so, because they had always had one, and most of all because they found the world unexplainable and frightening and felt a need for someone to lead them. Mankind’s fear of freedom has always been a fear of self-reliance—of being thrown on his own to face a frightening world, with no one else to tell him what to do. But we are no longer terrified savages making offerings to a lightning god or cowering Medieval serfs hiding from ghosts and witches. We have learned that man can understand and control his environment and his own life, and we have no need of high priests or kings or presidents to tell us what to do. Government is now known for what it is. It belongs in the dark past with the rest of man’s superstitions. It’s time for men to grow up so that each individual man can walk forward into the sunlight of freedom … in full control of his own life!


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