Markets need rules, and rules need enforcers.

On Elizabeth Warren, Charles Fried gets what “libertarian” politicians don’t: it’s no favor to “markets” to let fraud run rampant.

Charles Fried, Reagan’s Solicitor General, makes the case for Elizabeth Warren (and for a recess appointment, no less).

Here is one more difference between the responsible libertarians in academe—whom I happily talk to, though normally disagree with—and the wingnut variety who prevail in politics.  The latter want government to get out of businesses’ way, period.  The former realize that markets only benefit society when force and fraud are prohibited—which means that government should get very much in businesses’ way when that’s what they’re prone to.

Author: Andrew Sabl

I'm a political theorist and Visiting Professor (through 2017) in the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale. My interests include the history of political thought, toleration, democratic theory, political ethics, problems of coordination and convention, the realist movement in political theory, and the thought of David Hume. My first book, Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics (Princeton, 2002) covered many of these topics, with a special focus on the varieties of democratic politics and the disparate qualities of mind and character appropriate to those who practice each of them. My second book Hume's Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England was published in 2012; I am currently finishing a book on toleration, with the working title The Virtues of Hypocrisy, under contract with Harvard University Press. A Los Angeles native, I got my B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. Before coming to Yale I taught at Vanderbilt and at UCLA, where I was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor; and held visiting positions at Williams, Harvard, and Princeton. I am married to Miriam Laugesen, who teaches health policy and the politics of health care at the Mailman School of public health at Columbia, and we have a twelve-year-old son.

3 thoughts on “Markets need rules, and rules need enforcers.”

  1. Yes, there is a difference between a few market and an unfettered market. The balancing act that often fails, though, is realizing when too much regulation in the name of eliminating force and fraud makes the markets fail as well.

  2. Two points: does the "market activity" promote a social good, and from the view of the man in the street, is it fair? Companies that meet those two criteria have nothing to worry about except the competition from companies whose business plans includes a grifter's fraud or a mafiosi's extortion.

  3. Charles Fried is not a responsible libertarian. He is a responsible conservative; a different beast. But he is responsible.

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