Issues and ideas come and go, but many “Timeless Truths” always remain. What are some of these? Here is a short Libertarian list:

  • The Law of Unintended Consequences: Life is complicated, and almost every time a law or regulation is passed it results in some or even many negative consequences that were not intended. An example? The minimum wage laws directly put many people they were intended to help out of work. Why? Because the reality is that some people are not (yet) worth $15 per hour.
  • The Law of Diminishing Returns: If a little is good, a lot is better? Well, most of the time it is not. Ask any managers or owners of companies. Sometimes there are slight imperfections or flaws in products that could be addressed and fixed. But after a while it is simply not cost effective to spend an extra $100,000 to fix a problem that ultimately will only cost a customer or the company combined only a much smaller total amount in delays or problems.
  • The answer to most questions is: It Depends! Once again, life is complicated. So, for example, in answering the question “Should cheating at cards be a crime?” The answer is “It depends.” Why? If a person is playing for money and cheats, that would be a fraud and could, depending upon the circumstances, appropriately result in criminal prosecutions. But if people were playing solitaire at home, they might be cheating themselves but, otherwise, they should be left alone. So unless one is talking about a situation involving core values, (Should we sponsor another Holocaust? The answer is not “It depends!) the realistic answer is as stated above.
  • The Law of Supply and Demand: The First Rule of Economics is that there are never enough goods and services to meet the demand, and the First Rule of Politics is to ignore the First Rule of Economics. Thus Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” of economics is always a part of every commercial transaction, and always will be. This means that people acting in their own economic self-interest – both as producers and buyers – will always be a part of the equation.
  • Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” O’Rourke’s Corollary to Murphy’s Law: “Murphy was an Optimist.”
  • Incentives Matter: If people are able personally to profit in some meaningful way from their work and other actions, they are much more likely to pursue them. Of course, this rule applies equally to negative sanctions like punishments.
  • Dr. Milton Friedman: “We should judge our programs by their results, not their good intentions.” Following that advice would bring a positive revolution to governmental programs.

  • Dr. Milton Friedman again: “There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.” When I buy my contact lenses solution the box includes a plastic lens holder “at no extra charge.” But, since this “gift” holds about three times as much solution as the one I normally use, and probably costs the manufacturer a maximum of two cents, if only one person in ten uses it, the result will be the purchase of more solution and, thus more profit for the manufacturer sponsoring the “gift.” So, yet again, TANSTAAFL applies.

As my US History Professor Dr. Keith Berwick at UCLA once told us in his lecture, “There is a definite limitation to the profitable elaboration of the obvious.” So, with that, I will stop.

Lament of the Week: “Dear Algebra, Please don’t continue to insist that I find your X because she’s not coming back. And don’t ask Y.”

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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