Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek, wrote this letter to the Boston Globe. Boudreaux is responding to a story in the Boston Globe about an activist group’s efforts to protect children from “Big Business’ attempts to turn them into consumers of junk food, junk toys and junk entertainment.”
Boudreaux makes the point that the group’s activities are misdirected because Big Business cannot force anyone to do anything. Government can.
Forced vs. voluntary feeds a common and subtle hypocrisy in our society. Many people see no problem using government to force their desires and intentions on others. In some cases, this use of force is meant to block voluntary actions that we deem inappropriate, even though the people involved in the voluntary interaction had no problem with it.
People who don’t have a problem using government force to accomplish their goals, often find new respect for the limited role of government when its power is used to force changes in their voluntary behavior. Unfortunately, instead of respecting voluntary behavior, they often rationalize why government force is okay for the things they support and not okay for the things they dislike, thus continuing the hypocrisy.