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At Someone Else’s Expense

I have mentioned the book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, at least once before.  Here is another point he makes that really struck me.

He says if we could see people’s innermost private thoughts and motivations, we would see that their wishes and hopes are almost invariably at someone else’s expense.

For most people, operating under the most common systems of belief, that’s probably true.

But, there’s a big exception.

The principled stance of libertarianism (particularly, once all contradictions and inconsistencies are stripped away) doesn’t come at anyone else’s expense. It doesn’t cost anyone else.

You can’t seriously make the point that stopping theft or an attack on the innocent costs the archator. He might wish you believed that so he could guilt you into staying out of his way, but it’s simply not reality. Stopping someone from violating you doesn’t burden them.

I know from experience they’ll whine that it does.

Twice I have caught someone trying to cheat me in very expensive business deals, and both times, when I backed out as soon as the dishonesty was discovered, I was said to be the bad guy.

In one case the person had her lawyer husband call and threaten me unless I went through with the deal– he couldn’t even dispute the facts I had discovered. He simply said I had no choice but to go through with the deal. I didn’t.

Years later, another person who was trying to scam me told everyone in town I had cheated her and broken a contract– and even years later her husband tracked me down on MySpace to tell me what a “piece of ____” I am. I feel sorry for him, because apparently he wasn’t aware of what she had done (he was a good guy; his wife was a crook).

Even apart from business and money, I’ve been told that not allowing someone to control me is the same thing as controlling the would-be controller. That not allowing someone to force their will on me is the same as forcing my will on them. What? Twisted “logic,” to be sure.

So, while most people cost others, those who stick to voluntary associations and mutual consent don’t. Even though those who want to violate you will pretend it does. Statism– it’s not caused by rational thought or consistency.

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Kent McManigal

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