A Facebook friend asked this question.
“What is your definition of liberty? Penniless in a free world, or wealthy in a corrupt one. Those are the choices that I give you. Without deviating from those two choices, what is your response?
I dont understand the question yet….
First reply to your definition on liberty. Then reply to my questions within that context.
Hmmmm….. Ok. Lets define liberty:
a) Sentimentally: liberty is the desire to conduct individual experimental action from which we gain stimulation, knowledge, understanding, or temporal or material gain.
b) Historically: it is an allegory to the sentiments of sovereignty in aristocratic egalitarianism.
c) Politically: Liberty is the ability to use your property, defined as your body, and your possessions obtained by free exchange and homesteading, as you see fit, as long as you force no involuntary transfers from others by doing so.
d) Praxeologically: a set of property definitions which are monopolistically bounded, absent new invention, as norms.
Within the context of that definition of liberty, I can’t address the next dichotomy. SO I will try to deduce the cause of that dichotomy from the two statements and see if I can come up with an answer.
ANSWERING THE QUESTION
Your question might mean “would you prefer to be penniless in a free world or wealthy in a corrupt one”. The phrasing could also mean “you can only be penniless in a free world and wealthy in a corrupt one”. Which I think is illogical, so I’ll have to assume that’s not correct. Or it could mean that “is it just that there are penniless men in the free world and wealthy men in the corrupt world?”
I am going to assume that you mean the first, but might also be suggesting the third. I’ll answer them in that order.
I would rather be the wealthy person in the corrupt world of course. However, if I am a penniless man, I would prefer to be in the free world, where it is possible to change my state.
To answer the third question, the world is not just because justice requires the possession of knowledge within a limited domain that is available to individuals. ie: the family or tribe, and the family or tribal economy. However, for a division of labor to form, we must possess the knowledge that only money and prices can provide us with. And since none of that knowledge is ‘owned’ and much of it is noise, and the value to the market of scotch tape is much higher than the value of another Beethoven, then whomever ends up wealthy is a matter of the lottery effect and not much else. It’s random. Therefore there is no such thing as output-justice. We have a market precisely because it is created by a lottery effect. if the outcome were known , no one would play in the market. The market is a lottery. It is not just. The only justice is that as a byproduct of that market, goods and services are subject to constant decline in prices and increases in choices. SO the market economy is not a question of individual justice, but of aggregate justice with huge temporal variation among the individuals in the distribution we call the population. And any question of social justice is illogical – at least until you get to my next point:
The Propertarian answer to the third question is that if you respect property rights, whatever those rights might be, you have paid for those rights, for yourself, and for others, by forgoing opportunities for involuntary transfer, fraud, theft and violence. As such you are a shareholder in that market. Some might argue that respect for property is just the cost of access to the market. But the cost to the poor of those property rights is far higher than the cost to the wealthy, and as such, those rights are unequaly paid for. So, others, including myself, argue that shareholders not only have the right of access to the market, but we also have the right to whatever distributions (profits) that the market wherein those property rights are defined, produces, in compensation for that variance in costs, and unless we compensate for those variations in costs, then those with property are conducting an involuntary transfer from those who pay a very high price for respecting property. (ie: we have the right of variable redistribution if we adhere to property rights.) (Of course this would also requrie that you did not vote for privileges and redistributions.) This is undeniable praxeological reasoning. There is no alternative to it. Redistribution is warranted. And therefore you will never be a penniless man, even if you are a poor one, unless you have very poor judgement.
Propertarianism is based upon the universal human demonstrated preference for a prohibition on involuntary transfer. It is not, like libertarianism, based upon preference, natural law, or any other artificial construct.