Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hayek vs. the Libertarians

After saying that there is no reason that a rich society should not provide a minimum of economic security to all its citizens, Hayek adds:

Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance— where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks—the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to supercede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state’s providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom. To the same category belongs also the increase of security through the state’s rendering assistance to the victims of such “acts of God” as earthquakes and floods. Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.

Hayek, F. A.. The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2) (Kindle Locations 3603-3613). University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.

The American libertarians, and their Republican allies, are flatly against all of the above, and that fact is at the center of my beef with libertarianism, despite the fact that the US today is far richer than 1940s UK. Hayek's style of libertarianism is far more palatable for me.