Not every problem needs a solution

Everyone knows there are problems in the world. There is theft. There is child abuse. There is poverty. And many more. The question becomes “How do you fix it?”

While it seems most people think a new law or tougher enforcement is the answer, libertarians see those “solutions” as only exacerbating the problems. We also see the current infatuation with statutory law as a reason that so many of the problems surrounding us now seem to have no effective solution.

Not every problem can be fixed, or even should be fixed. The biggest flaw in the “Serenity Prayer” is the line “…Courage to change the things I can…” because not everything that can be changed should be changed. Real wisdom accepts that.

Another fact of reality is that any solved problem creates new problems. The trick is to make sure the problems created by your solution are more minor — easier to solve or live with — than the problem you started with. If a solution seems likely to have consequences worse than the problem, it is best to do nothing until a better solution presents itself. Always be prepared to quickly reject your solution if its unintended consequences are worse than the original problem. Laws never fair well when judged against this benchmark.

A common statutory solution for crime is to ban self defense, or at least regulate it to the point that victims of an attack who fight back will then be at risk of being attacked by the legal system. This emboldens those who care nothing about right and wrong, much less laws, which creates unnecessary hardship and fear for the people who were not doing anything wrong to begin with.

The libertarian solution for crime is, first of all, to recognize that without a specific individual who was attacked or robbed there was no crime, and then remove the barriers to effective self defense, which includes defense of property. The benefit of a doubt must be given to the person who was just going about his business; not to the one who was looking for trouble.

The same goes for other problems. Most of them can be solved, but solutions that harm the innocent are not worth pursuing. You can’t be generous and caring by giving away other people’s money. You can’t protect the innocent by legalizing the violation of eternal human rights.