Re: non-interference

Topics: Democracy
05 Feb 1990


> [what do you mean by non-interference? ]

The goal is that I (meaning anyone from their own point of view) can
maximize my own happiness. I know better than anyone else what the
relative value of different things are to me. If someone else interferes
they are stealing something from me, perhaps something abstract like
my liberty or something more concrete like my money.
Having said that, one could make the argument that individuals
maximizing their own good is not the same as maximizing the collective
good of society. I don't agree. So, the second goal of 'non-interference'
is a better society as well as a free individual.
I often state the whole principle this way:
'If all involved parties consent, not under duress, it is acceptable.'
Of course, defining involved, consent, & duress are difficult.

> [why do societies choose to interfere? ]

1) Because it is easy to see the immediate good that a particular
instance of interference will do but difficult to see the more diffuse
long term harm that it will do. Taking my favorite example: it's easy
to see that denying a teen-ager drugs will prevent them from becoming
an addict and ruining their life, but it is not easy to see that the
cost for doing that is very high in terms of both liberty and money.
Who ten years ago would have predicted the feds alone would be spending
directly $10 billion on enforcement today? It is even more difficult
to see that cost will always be higher than the profit for such actions.

2) People are arrogant and are so sure that they are right that there
just isn't any point in letting someone else behave differently:
'They have to be wrong, they are different'.
Actually, I am of the opinion that almost no one, in any country,
believes in what I think of as freedom. It's simply that there are
two compromises between competing attempts at controlling each other:
authoritarian control or democratic stand-offs. I don't think that
other ways of behaving must be tolerated as part of a deal that
my behavior be tolerated; I think instead that I cannot possibly
know what is right or what is wrong for someone else.

3) A simple conspiracy of power stealing from those that have less power.

Don't misunderstand my intention in the above. I am not saying that
murder should be legal. I am not saying that people cannot reach
compromises. I am not saying that people should always not allow
themselves to be subjected to rules that they didn't themselves
write explicitly.