|Baby Alfie and her parents.|
Perhaps the most controversial argument in my book, Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person, is that no overarching rule should be made that prevents a Crazy Harry from shooting on his own property a child trespasser.
Some have chosen to distort my view by stating that
I am in favor of shooting trespassers when I clearly state in the book that such an act would be "most horrifying" (p. 65).
My point is not advocacy of such a horrific act but how to deal with it. I argue that the best way to deal with Crazy Harry nuts is just to keep away and keep children away from areas where such nuts live, just as we keep children away from dangerous areas now (p.65).
I argue that demanding overarching rules as a solution leads to more deaths since an overriding central power will make decisions rather than leaving decisions to individuals on their own properties. Central powers have great incentive to kill and oppress. That is why we have seen hundreds of millions killed by various governments and billions oppressed.
It is easy to avoid dangerous areas. It is not so easy to avoid central powers who deem that their rules apply to everyone and are always the best solutions--always. How authoritarian and evil! Giving up control over your own property to a central power on any point is always a very dangerous idea. It is naive to think that once the idea is adopted that there should be overarching rules that rules are going to begin and end just where you want them to.
As I write in my book (p.60):
The worst thing that can happen to a government advocate is to have his country ruled by government officials who are not his friends.This is what happened in the case of Baby Alfie and her parents.
Baby Alfie was killed by the British government on the government order that her life support be removed.
What's more shocking is that the British government ruled that Baby Alfie could not even be transported to Rome for free treatment that the Vatican was willing to provide.
The desires of the parents were not taken into consideration. Government rules had been set in place, to prevent such treatment for a child like Alfie. According to the British government, the killing was in the child's "best interests".
What a horror.
Consider what would have occurred under a Private Property Society. The parents certainly could have flown to the Vatican from their own house. If a hospital tried to prevent such a move, one would think that in a PPS in a civilized area that would have been considered kidnapping.
In other words, the parents would have been able to take their child for last-ditch free treatment (perhaps for a miracle) to the Vatican.
But, they do not live in a PPS, they live in a region controlled by a government and where "best interests" rules for children are made by the government. So Baby Alfie is dead.
It is easy to say, "Well. these aren't the kind of 'best interest' rules we should have." But how is this to be decided? Isn't it better to simply have your own rules on your own property and that you only go to hospitals who think in a similar fashion?
You just never know where others are going to come down on overarching rules.
Indeed, a libertarian at the Cato Institute apparently believes that the government action in the killing of Baby Alfie might have been justified
Michael F. Cannon, director of health care policy at the Cato Institute, writes:
As hostile as libertarians are to government, even we believe government can legitimately order the withdrawal of life support, and prohibit parents from moving a child to obtain further treatment, when that treatment would fruitlessly prolong a child’s suffering – i.e., when further treatment would be akin to torture.Note: The baby was unconscious so there was no indication keeping the baby alive would have been torture. But the British court did not rule on the torture basis anyway.
In such cases, the government intervenes to protect the child’s rights. (British law frames the decision in terms of the “best interests” of the child, but it seems to me that language clouds the issue and thereby unnecessarily inflames passions.)
There is no objectively right place to draw the line between cases in which the government should and should not intervene. But I don’t know anyone who thinks it never should. If anyone does make that argument, they’re just wrong.Well, I for one object to government intervention always. Based on a fundamental premise there are people like Cannon who think they can overrule my wishes and desires on my own property. I'll take a PPS any day.
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Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. and most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. The Robert Wenzel podcast is on iphone and stitcher.