We live during a time when public opinion is given enough gravity to become rule of law. You can scarcely open a daily newspaper (do people still read those?) – okay, you can hardly read an online news aggregator without seeing an article examining whether or not a group of individuals “should be allowed” to do one thing or another.
Should gays be allowed to marry?
Should people be allowed to smoke pot for medical reasons?
Should people be allowed to drink raw milk?
Should a dying person be allowed to take his own life?
The inherent premise underlying all of these “debates” is that individuals must live their lives by the permission of other people. That somehow a referendum must take place in order to legally establish what a person can do in the privacy of his own life. Only after enough people discuss the issue on Huffington Post, Slate and Facebook and after millions of dollars have been donated to political campaigns via lobby groups that assemble coalitions of special interests to pressure key votes will the right vs. wrong morality of the matter be decided definitively.
Many think this is a fair and just way to determine how society should live and evolve. If you are one of them let me ask you some questions from only a few decades ago:
Should a black person be allowed to marry a white person?
Should a Jew be allowed to attend medical school?
Should a woman be allowed to own real estate?
Should an unmarried couple be allowed to have sex?
How many blacks, Jews and women had to go to prison or spend their lives doing battle with the “rights givers” just to take possession of their own lives? At the very least, how many had to sit on the sidelines waiting for the battle to end so they could productively go on with their lives? What is the cost to humanity for this ongoing system of determining rights? What is the cost to our economy in money and man-hours debating, politicizing and adjudicating this ridiculous assumption that the rights of the individual are derived from the collective consent of his neighbors?
What a sickness it is to reflexively believe that individuals cannot conduct their lives as they see fit until they have the permission of their neighbors. And see how this poison ethic spills into international affairs? Should Mexico be allowed to legalize soft drugs? Should Iran be allowed to develop atomic power? Should China be allowed to buy oil from Saudi Arabia without using U.S. dollars? Sorry, not until the rest of us talk it over and give our permission.
There are only two ways for individuals to interact with each other’s property; contractually or coercively. In all of the above examples there are parties that can come to mutual agreement thus forming a contract. All that matters is that the contract is agreeable to the parties involved, beyond that it is nobody else’s business. Outside interference in that contract is coercion. The only way – the only way! – to eliminate coercion in this world is to supplant it with contract. When that is done we will have True Freedom and True Peace. It will be a long road but it is achievable. As huge as the task may seem the path is clearly visible, we begin by looking at every place coercion exists and asking how it can be replaced by contractual agreement and, most importantly, we only offer our support to those who act contractually.
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