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February 9, 2016 at 11:25 am in reply to: Libertarian perspective on legalizing all drugs and DUI laws. #20411
Thanks for the clarification, Osgood. I find Libertarians, myself included apparently, are prone to falling into a trap of over-aggregating the state. You’re right that drunk driving is in a sense doubly illegal. It’s prohibited by the arm of the state that manages roadways and licensing, and then criminalized by the arm of the state that writes and enforces criminal law. If we want to seek a next-to-best solution by assuming the state to be the legitimate owner of the roads, it should only have the power to enforce a prohibition against drunk driving consistent with what a private owner would have.
It’s a distinction with a difference, but within the faulty context of statism, the end results might be the same, and so I’d still be hesitant to allow the state leeway to enforce the rule.
Feel free to end the discussion if I begin to take up too much of your time.
Pushing the question further though, when we see someone appearing to redeem one item for another, how do we determine whether what they’re doing is redeeming a money substitute for money proper, or if they’re converting money proper into a money substitute to facilitate some exchange. If we see someone withdrawing physical dollars from their bank account for the purpose of frequenting a cash only establishment, how is that we can assert that he’s redeeming bank credit (money substitute) for physical dollars (money proper), instead of converting bank credit (money proper) into physical dollars (money substitute) to facilitate his transaction?
Your last paragraph, if I’m understanding it right, seems to suggest that the answer is that we would infer how he regards the item by context – that in the example I’ve given, if the person views their bank credit as “their money,” and physical cash is merely a form their money must take to facilitate a particular transaction, then for them, the bank credit is, in fact the money, and the physical dollars, the money substitute. Whereas by contrast, if someone were withdrawing physical dollars in order to hold them, we might say that for him, it appears the physical dollars are money, and the bank credit, merely a form their money must take to facilitate particular transactions. If this is true though, what would prevent the possibility of the relationship between a money and a money proper reversing. And perhaps my original framing of the question confused things. I don’t mean a reversal in a categorical sense, but just an empirical situation in which physical dollars, previously viewed as the money, begin to be regarded as merely a form that money must sometimes take to facilitate transactions, and where people instead view their checking account balances as their money. And if such a situation did appear to maintain, wouldn’t economists have to change to treating bank credit as money, and cash as a money substitute?
How do we demonstrate that the use of the thing we’re calling a money substitute, as a medium of exchange, is actually dependent on its redeemability for the thing we’re calling the money proper? This is easy to see for commodity monies, and for fiat monies when a money substitute is first introduced, but once you have a money substitute for a fiat money that’s accepted as readily or more readily than the money itself, it’s not clear to me why its value should any longer depend on the fiat money at all, since the only value either one has is its value in exchange. There doesn’t seem to be a reason to prefer one or the other, as long as it can suitably perform this function.
Now I’m not saying that this is empirically the case in the US. As far as the suitability as a medium of exchange is concerned, physical dollars still have the important advantage of being able to be held independent of any bank. Maybe the answer that I’m looking for is that a thing only ever becomes a money substitute if it lacks some important characteristic of the money proper? If it really were as suitable or more suitable, it wouldn’t become a money substitute, but simply a competing money. There wouldn’t really be any point in using gold as a money substitute for gold, or in using some other paper certificate as a money substitute for fiat dollars.
Thank you for your time in replying by the way.January 23, 2016 at 9:16 am in reply to: Libertarian perspective on legalizing all drugs and DUI laws. #20408
I think the comparison’s a little weird because we’re talking about an impaired person behind the wheel vs. an impaired person not behind the wheel. If the argument is simply that hard drugs can make people violent (I think Walter Block refers to this as the werewolf complex), then it’s kind of puzzling why you wouldn’t make the same statement about alcohol in general. If anything, comparing how we treat hard drugs vs. how we treat alcohol would seem to suggest that hard drugs SHOULD be legal, and only driving under the influence of hard drugs should be illegal.
On the other hand, our current justice system is so barbaric and heavy handed, that I flinch at allowing the state any room to use it. Imagine what any jail time at all does to a person’s life and career and future prospects. It’s offensive to my sense of justice to allow the state to criminalize anything but the most severe crimes, as long as it treats the offenders the way it does. Sometimes, I find myself sitting in traffic, and for whatever reason, space out, or am looking in some other direction, and then I step on the gas as the light turns green only to notice a pedestrian crossing in front of me at the last minute, and I put on the brake. Then I sit there thinking to myself how my life would basically have been over if I hadn’t caught that pedestrian in my sight at that moment, and how easy it really is to become a victim of the state’s fullest ire.