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

Andrew Sabl, a political theorist, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics and Hume’s Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England, both from Princeton University Press. His research interests include political ethics, liberal and democratic theory, toleration, the work of David Hume, and the realist school of contemporary political thought. He is currently finishing a book for Harvard University Press titled The Uses of Hypocrisy: An Essay on Toleration. He divides his time between Toronto and Brooklyn.

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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