Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Your Business Is My Business

My colleague, Jayson Lusk, and I have libertarian tendencies. The idea of government addressing "problems" like global warming scare us because it makes every single action we take create a form of pollution for other people. Now, our business is everyone's business, all the time.

Yet, my reading of the excellent book Creatures of Empire has tempered my aghast. Even when colonies first formed in the U.S., where you might suspect that individuals would have great freedom to make their own decisions without the nosey eye of a neighbor, colonial governments exerted a surprising control over daily life. The governments would even enact measures dictating when you could slaughter your cattle or sheep--YOUR cattle or sheep. They did this because they felt individuals were slaughtering their animals too early, and needed the benevolent intervention of the ruling class.

It is no surprise, then, that today, your business is everyone's business.