informationliberation
The news you're not supposed to know...




Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand the World
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
(more)
Article posted Feb 25 2013, 12:18 AM Category: Commentary Source: Robert Higgs Print

What's Immoral for the Private Goose Is Moral for the Government Gander?

By Robert Higgs

Why do so many people consider certain actions to be immoral if taken by private persons, but not immoral—perhaps even morally praiseworthy—if taken by government officials?

One possibility is that people have become accustomed to government officials' taking certain actions (e.g., getting income by insisting that people either hand over their money or suffer punishment) over long periods, sometimes from time immemorial, and they no longer evaluate the morality of these actions at all, but simply consider them to be part of the state of nature—"how things are"—somewhat as people do not regard destructive floods or hurricanes as immoral.

Another possibility is that people view government officials' taking certain actions, which are regarded as immoral if carried out by private persons, as cleansed by virtue of the government's having been established and maintained by democratic means. We might call this possibility "morality by virtue of (electoral) majority." Of course, if we posed a reductio ad absurdum (e.g., is it okay to kill all the redheads if a majority votes to do so?), they may admit the inadequacy of this justification. Yet, in most workaday instances, many people seem to regard a majority vote not simply as a way of deciding who will occupy public offices or which policies will be implemented, but as a way of establishing the "rightness" or “legitimacy” of government officials' actions.

Apart from the widely accepted idea that democratically undergirded actions are ipso facto morally validated, people may consider that government officials as such are not subject to the same moral criteria as private persons. Much as Richard M. Nixon believed—or so he claimed—that "when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal," many people appear to believe that when the government takes a certain action, that means that it is not immoral. Again, nearly everyone would probably admit that this stance has limits: if the government were to act in manifestly Hitlerian fashion, people would recognize that government actions are not ipso facto moral. But by and large the government does not act in such grotesquely outrageous ways, and hence it may receive a moral pass from the public that private persons do not receive.

Perhaps other possibilities also exist. All that is certain here is that governments routinely take, usually with little or no condemnation or denunciation, actions that would be regarded as murder, assault, battery, destruction of property, extortion, fraud, and many other crimes if taken by private persons. This moral bifurcation helps us to understand why so many people tolerate more or less serenely the morally rotten governments to which they are subject.





Latest Commentary
- Is Politics Obsolete?
- Why Do Libertarians Pay Taxes?
- Do We Need to Bring Back Internment Camps?
- The Sorry State of Race Relations
- First, They Came for the Bar Owners...
- The American Nightmare: The Tyranny of the Criminal Justice System
- Trump Is Right: John McCain is Not A Hero
- Authoritarians Like Twitter, Too









No Comments Posted Add Comment


Add Comment
Name
Comment

* No HTML


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below
 


PLEASE NOTE
Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy



Advanced Search
Username:

Password:

Remember Me
Forgot Password?
Register

In Under a Minute, this Cop Shows Exactly Why People are Losing Faith in Police - 08/02Police Pose As Construction Crew To Extort Texting Drivers - 07/31NYPD Thugs Assault Business Owner As He Closes Shop - 08/03'I Can Detain You For Not Talking to Me!': WI Police Officer Harasses Open Carry Activists, Demands They Leave the City - 08/03Teenager Sues Police After Being Jailed for 40 Days Over a Snowball Then Cleared of Wrongdoing - 08/03VIDEO: Hillary Supporters Call For Repealing Bill of Rights - 08/03War President Obama Authorizes Ongoing Airstrikes Against Syria - 08/03VIDEO: Man Asks Cops To Stop Beating Woman, Cops Beat Him Instead - 07/30

Man Follows Speeding Cop, Finds Out He Was Speeding To Buy PeanutsMission Creeps: Homeland Security Agents Confiscate Women's Panties For 'Copyright Infringement'Cop Shoots Couple's Dog, Threatens Jail For Trying To Save Dog's LifeSWAT Team Shoots Teen Girl & Her Dog During Pot Raid On Wrong HomeDurham, NC Cop Testifies Faking 911 Calls To Enter Homes Is "Official Policy"Indiana Sheriff Says US A "War Zone" To Justify New MRAP Military VehicleTampa Cops Surveil Pot Dealer, Catch Him Selling Pot, Raid His Home & Kill Him"You Just Shot An Unarmed Man!": Witness Says Police Shot His Friend With His Hands Up
(more)

 
Top