This is part of my series on the problems with libertarianism.

I’m on the lower-left of the political spectrum, but I’m often tempted by those on the lower-right. They’ve got this beautiful capitalist theory where the people who do work get paid and society automatically adjust things for the greater good, and everyone lives happily ever after. (My problem is that it doesn’t work: capitalism gives cash to those who exploit the system, pays people for different tasks than those I consider good, and assumes people are intrinsically bad and need to be corrected.)

Anyway, there’s a fundamental contradiction in the theory that bothers me. Take two people, the homeless man pushing a cart in San Francisco, and the rich corporate mogul flying around the world in his jet. Now, arguendo, let’s grant the premise that the homeless man is homeless because he’s a worthless grunt who doesn’t contribute to society, and the rich man is rich because the market has determined he’s worthwhile. The homeless man shouldn’t get money from the state, because that would make him dependent and even less likely to seek out work. But what about their children? Rich man’s son will live in luxury his entire without working a day. It’s pushing it to say that this was OK for his father, but can you truly say it’s fair because the market is rewarding him for choosing excellent parents?

I would think that libertarians would want a 100% inheritance tax, so everyone got a (more) equal start. But as far as I can tell, they don’t. Can anyone explain why? I honestly want to know.

Update: You respond, I summarize.

posted October 16, 2003 07:45 AM (Politics) #


The Evening News
Shades of Gray
Followup to “Shades of Gray”
Notes to Self
The Left Sucks
Question for Free-Market Libertarians
Frag the Flag
Followup to “Question for Free-Market Libertarians”
How to Win Elections
The Immorality of Copyright Law or GET YOUR DIEBOLD MEMOS HERE
Evaluating the Democrats

Aaron Swartz (