By Judge Jim Gray
May 3, 2016—One of the most timeless libertarian statements was made by Thomas Jefferson, who said “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Thus, in large part, the Jefferson and libertarian’s political philosophy is to live and let live. But that philosophy doesn’t function without a strong system of justice, which serves at least four important functions.
First, it must protect us from each other (you can’t wrongly break my leg); second, it must protect our property (or pick my pocket); third, it must enforce our voluntary legal promises (i.e. contracts) and warranties; and fourth, it must enforce reasonable regulations that truly promote and protect the general health, safety and welfare.
So liberty is not at all a system of “anything goes,” far from it! We must have reasonable laws and regulations—and not only must they be enforced, people must believe they will be enforced. That means there must be consequences for those who wrongly infringe upon other people’s health, safety or property. And an economic system will collapse if voluntary legal contracts and warranties are not enforced, because they bring a healthy foreseeability and stability to the business world. And, given the complexity and scarcities in today’s world, we must also have some reasonable regulations for the general welfare. But within that framework, liberty and prosperity for all can be maximized.
So when considering or forming your own political philosophy, be sure to include a provision for a fair, neutral and enforceable justice system. Liberty and prosperity for all will then thrive.
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Image credit: Casey Fiesler.