by Richard A. Epstein
June 21, 2012
A system of strong property rights is needed so that people who differ on how they wish to live their lives can do so without getting permission from the dominant faction. At that point, they can adopt any allocation of resources they see fit, including charitable contributions. The key issues are for government to control force, fraud, and monopoly, and to create public institutions, including infrastructure. It ought to achieve these ends without making government the supreme sovereign in the area of individual rights, so that every election does not become an invitation for a major flip-flop from one extreme to another. Our instincts about two-party transactions don’t help to resolve these large-scale structural issues. A much more powerful and self-conscious theory of social welfare is needed to bridge that gap.