Arthur, thanks for your comment.

Let’s take things in the order you presented them.

While I could have made the argument that driving a motorcycle is a privilege not a right and that therefore the gov’t was entitled to impose any helmet regulations it wanted, that’s not the only argument I could have made.

I chose to make the additional argument that my friend’s belief that motorcycle riders have an inherent, absolute right not to wear a helmet and automobile drivers and passengers have an inherent absolute right not to wear seatbelts was wrong because it failed the cost/benefit analysis test.

(BTW, riding in a car as a passenger is a right not a privilege so the right vs. privilege argument doesn’t dispose of my friend’s position there).

This “I have an absolute right to do X irrespective of the harm it causes and the benefits from preventing me from doing it” is the standard libertarian argument that people should be able to do whatever they want (absent theft and violence) even when a cost/benefit analysis shows that their conduct causes a great deal more harm to others than the loss of the ability to do X is damaging to the individual.

As a libertarian, you know that libertarian dogma holds that people should be free to discriminate in housing, jobs, accommodations, etc. in spite of the great damage that such discrimination does to the rights of the people who are discriminated against.

Saying that libertarians believe that they should not be prevented from doing whatever they want no matter how small the loss from the prevention and no matter how large the damage to third parties from allowing them to do it is not a canard. It is a accurate statement of libertarian doctrine.

Yes, individuals do have the right to live without undue restrictions, but not without all restrictions.

Undue restrictions are the ones that don’t pass an intelligent, reasonable cost/benefit analysis. Appropriate restrictions are those that do pass the cost/benefit analysis test.

I published this column on that topic:

"The Open-Up/Lock-Down Debate Is About Losing $10 Trillion Dollars Vs. Losing 1 Million Lives. What’s Your Choice Between Losing A Great Deal Of Money Or Losing A Large Number Of Lives?"

In that column I specifically refused to take sides on whether or not the lockdowns, etc. were the right or wrong thing to do.

I’m not going to try to run a cost/benefit analysis on the Covid19 regulations because that is a massive job that I’m not qualified to.

If the death rate from Covid was 100 people per 1000 instead of my guess of about 6 people per 1000 and if the serious illness rate was 200 people per 1000 instead of my guess of about 40 people per 1000 then I would definitely say that the cost/benefit analysis would absolutely be that the lockdown was justified.

If it was 1/1000 dead and 10/1000 seriously ill, then I would say that it definitely was not justified.

Your statement that “no harm was done, no innocent citizens were endangered” by not having a lockdown is absolutely false.

Contrary to what you claimed, contact tracing and statistical analysis can absolutely prove where many cases of Covid were contracted. That’s what epidemiologists do. It’s a well established discipline.

I don’t pretend to know what libertarians think. I do know what libertarians say in the same way that you and I know what communists say and what anarchists say. You folks don’t make any secret of your principles.

I’m not putting any words in libertarians’ mouths. I am discussing your announced beliefs and their consequences.

There are NO rights from God or anywhere else to do things that materially and unreasonably injure others. Period.

God didn’t give anyone the freedom of speech right to say defamatory things.

God didn’t give anyone the freedom of the press right to publish child porn.

God didn’t give anyone the freedom of contract right to operate a cartel.

You had better believe that the victims of those kinds of actions do indeed have the right to enact legislation that prevents libertarians from doing those things.

I don’t know what the result of a cost/benefit analysis would be of having a law that would require all businesses to test all employees for Covid. It might pass that test or fail it. Again, that’s a factual, not philosophical, question. Answering it takes empirical evidence, not political dogma.

If you’ve got a strong, common sense, reasonable, practical analysis that shows that the harm from some legislation is greater than the benefit, then I would oppose such a law.

On the other hand, if the evidence from a strong, common sense, reasonable, practical analysis that shows that the harm from some legislation is materially less than the benefit from it then YOU should support that legislation.

But, I don’t think you would ever do that. Am I wrong?

If the evidence from a strong, common sense, reasonable, practical analysis showed that the harm from some legislation that limited your ability to do something or required you to do something would be materially less than the benefit to others from that legislation, would you admit that it was a proper exercise of government power or would you say that no matter how high the benefit and no matter how low the detriment that the gov’t should not pass such a law because you have an absolute right, absent violence or theft, to do whatever you want no matter how much your conduct damages others?

I think that's exactly what you would say.

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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