The New York Times ran an editorial on the election of Rand Paul called the “Limits of Libertarianism.” I haven’t been paying much attention to Paul’s campaign or related politics, so don’t comment on Paul’s views or the Times response to them. But I have to draw attention to for the purpose of publicly ridiculing one of the Times final sentences, which contrasts government power against a peculiar view of free markets:
It was only government power that ended slavery and abolished Jim Crow, neither of which would have been eliminated by a purely free market.
Should we give government power credit for ending slavery in the 1860s when government power had been supporting slavery for more than a century before? How long would slavery have persisted in the United States had the government not used its power to endorse and protect it? And what is this queer notion of a “purely free market” in which some people can legally assault other people, deprive them of their liberty, and sell them into slavery? I had imagined that such slavery could not exist in a purely free market.
Should we give government power credit for ending Jim Crow, when Jim Crow attitudes were turned by state and local governments into laws that used government power to force segregation? How long did it take the Times‘ lauded (federal) government power to overcome the use of (state and local) government power imposing segregation requirements? In what vision of a “purely free market” can the government tell a business that it must segregate its customers by race?