Dec 18, 2011

The Freedom Ferry

George Will of the Washington Post is maddening. Today Ayn Rand, tomorrow George Soros.

He talks the talk about American liberty, then lauds guys of the Romney caste to lead us to freedom. He has sometimes gone softer than squishy on self-defense rights. In 1991 he suggested we might repeal the Second Amendment.

This happens to be one of his better days. It occurred to him that that the libertarian idea of leaving folks alone can be pretty broad. It can even be interpreted to include  the right to earn a living without years of tugging your forelock, on bended knee before the bureaucrats, begging permission to do a little honest business.

George discovered Jim and Cliff Courtney, two brothers conspiring to create a new ferry service across Lake Chelan in the Cascades. The State of Washington has marshaled its might to say, "No. There's already a state-sanctioned ferry service, so get lost."

"...84 years ago,"  Will writes, " Washington state asserted a principle much favored by all of America’s governments:It may parcel out certain economic liberties sparingly and only to those who can prove to government that their exercise of their liberty will satisfy some government-concocted criteria."

(I doubt there are many better  better short definitions of tyranny in the English language.)

Jim and Cliff run a resort on one end of the 55-mile-long lake, far beyond the end of  any road. so you get to those environs by private boat or plane or  a seasonal two-vessel ferry service -- a government sanctioned monopoly. The two boats operate once a day, both sailing at the same time and, get this, in the same direction.

The brothers think they can do better. All they need is approval of  a couple of dozen bureaucrats to sign off on their application for a "certificate of public interest, convenience, and necessity." The bureaucrats tell Jim and Cliff to go pound rocks, and  the lawsuit begins.

Back to Will. He's referring to a couple of old Supreme Court decisions which hold that personal liberty does not necessarily mean personal economic liberty.

"It is now routine for government to have transactions with rent-seekers — private interests who want public power used to confer advantages on them, or disadvantages on competitors. This case from a remote region of Washington state explains much about a Washington 2,200 miles away. Start with a misbegotten constitutional principle that denigrates economic liberty as less than fundamental, and thus licenses government to ration such liberty. You end with the pandemic rent-seeking that defines the nation’s capital."


Yes, Sir.

And just a couple of personal notes. I fully agree with you that the might of government ought to be brought brought down on the designated hitter rule. On the other hand, may I suggest you seek treatment for your recurring attacks of  hoplophobia?

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