[S]o that in the last analysis [Machan writes] John Stossel and [guest] John Mackey were trapped in a dilemma: they either embrace a pure libertarian position in which there is no room for any wealth redistribution and public works--everything must be privatized apart from the judicial system and the military--or they have to accept the socialist health-care proposals of the liberal Democrats, better known as Obamacare, as just another task the government can take over.But hold on. Machan is stuck in his own dilemma. If he opposes socialist health care, why does he favor a socialist judicial system and military? As he says, "It isn't the size of government, really, that is of concern but its proper scope." He's right. But why does he want a government whose scope includes the judiciary and military?
He responds, "Matters pertaining to the protection of the basic and derivative rights of the citizenry are the government's purview but nothing else, including parks, forests, lakes, roads and so forth."
This seems wholly arbitrary. What does it mean to say that protecting rights is the government's purview? Historically that has not been the case; government has been the greater killer of liberty. Rulers may have claimed they were protecting people, but that doesn't make it true or proper, since it routinely coerced innocents in the process. More fundamentally, who says that rights protection is government's--and only government's--purview? Is that carved on a tablet somewhere?
Machan might say that everything but judicial and military (by which I presume he means bona fide defense) functions can be provided in the competitive market. But that's mere assertion, belied by theory and history.
Enforced monopoly is bad for everything--except the production of security? Why?
Gustave de Molinari thought this through more clearly:
It offends reason to believe that a well established natural law can admit of exceptions. A natural law must hold everywhere and always, or be invalid. I cannot believe, for example, that the universal law of gravitation, which governs the physical world, is ever suspended in any instance or at any point of the universe. Now I consider economic laws comparable to natural laws, and I have just as much faith in the principle of the division of labor as I have in the universal law of gravitation. I believe that while these principles can be disturbed, they admit of no exceptions.
But, if this is the case, the production of security should not be removed from the jurisdiction of free competition; and if it is removed, society as a whole suffers a loss.
Either this is logical and true, or else the principles on which economic science is based are invalid...
In the entire world, there is not a single establishment of the security industry that is not based on monopoly or on communism.
In this connection, we add, in passing, a simple remark.
Political economy has disapproved equally of monopoly and communism in the various branches of human activity, wherever it has found them. Is it not then strange and unreasonable that it accepts them in the security industry?