In Which evpick Thinks He Gets Off a Good One

evpick posted this over in Off-Topic:

Please Post Your Off-Topic and General Interest Items Here | Daily Pundit

Bill Quick is a book writer. He’s in the book-writing business. Let’s say he doesn’t want to write a book for a certain publisher who solicits his services. Let’s also say that Quick’s reasons are not good ones–at least from the perspective of a person on the outside looking in, without full knowledge of Quick’s life and circumstances and bases for judgment. Should the publisher be able to coercely require Quick’s services as book author, on the grounds that Quick is being “discriminatory” to reject him as a customer–as if Quick has no rights in the matter with respect to how to spend his own time and his own life? Should making the wrong decision about what to do with your life and time be grounds for depriving you of the freedom to spend your life and time in accordance with your own judgment?

I respond:

First off, as I’ve already noted, I reject that the single highest good of the entire universe is the liberty to run your own business with absolutely no outside interference.  So I am not a perfect libertarian, and somebody attempting the argument “You are not a good libertarian,” by which they really mean “You are not an unthinking robot swallowing Randian or Libertarian dogma without thought, care, or any input from your own rationality” will find me in full agreement with their criticism, and that will be the end of that “argument.”

That said, let’s take evpick’s argument on its own terms:

1. evpick:  Bill Quick is in the book writing business.

Answer.  Yes.  Yes, I am.

2.  evpick:  Should Bill Quick be able to reject a publisher’s demand that write something for them he does not wish to, or should the publisher be able to force him to write for them?

Answer:  Has Bill Quick entered voluntarily into a business in which his society has required him to write for any and all who demand his services in a lawful manner?  No, no he has not.  (Nor would he as a writer, though he has in other areas – like the restaurant he owned).  So of course he should be able to reject that demand.

The rest is just drivel designed to dress up the central evpick point:  He is either a libertarian or Randian dogmatist, and if the dogma requires him to endorse policies that may result in the destruction of the society in which he lives, he’s fine with that, because belief.  Evpick is a true believer.  This is not intended in a complimentary manner.

Now let us extend the analogy:  Let’s say I incorporate, under the laws of the state of California, a business which sells writing services to the general public.  I obtain a business license, as I am required to do, and I implicitly (or in some cases explicitly) pledge to abide by the local, state, and federal laws applicable to my business.

Then along comes evpick, who informs me that his religion is libertarianism, and he wants me to write a book praising anti-black and anti-gay business discrimination as an unalienable right of doing business in California.  I can legally turn down that project on many grounds:  Lack of skill, lack of time, lack of interest or knowledge, a host of others.  What I cannot do, under the laws I have said I will abide by, turn him down on the basis of his religion, and say, “I’m sorry, I won’t sell my services to you because you are a practitioner of the libertarian religion.”

I know this sort of logic is probably beyond evpick, but I suspect most of the non-true-believers around here may be able to puzzle it out.

It is this voluntary pledge part of the business that most of the hard cores don’t seem to be able to understand.  You don’t pledge to obey the law until you don’t feel like obeying the law.  You pledge to obey the law.  The time to consider your religious or other objections to obeying the law is before you open your business and pledge to obey the applicable laws – not after. 

At that point, your choices are fairly simple:  Obey the law, leave the business, or pay the penalties for your defiance of the law.  Even then, you have the choice to refuse your services.  But you’ll have to refuse them to everybody, because you’ll no longer be in business.

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Leave a Reply