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McElroy: Presumption of Competence

  Comic from xkcd.  Click to enlarge.

Masterful treatment by Wendy McElroy, of the subject of just how different the worldview is between statists and the liberty-loving.  If you've ever been at a loss for words trying, actually trying to understand how someone could not "get" the importance of presuming innocence (usually by denying that presumption of innocence is almost entirely gone at this point in history), this is an outstanding short work that covers the entirely similar concept of "presumed competence" which is completely denied by the control-freaks.

When the Nanny State usurps the right to make decisions for you, it is placing itself in a position of unsolicited guardianship over your life. But the usurpation involves much more than this. A comatose man retains his natural rights; a third party cannot properly aggress against him. By contrast, the Nanny State is quite willing to imprison and confiscate the property of those who disrespect its guardianship; it is willing to aggress against those pursuing their own peaceful choices. And, so, the Nanny State claims more than mere guardianship; it claims the right to
control and to punish your choices. It claims ownership.

And this is what the conflict between the Nanny State and the individual comes down to. Not whether X or Y choice is the correct one to make but who owns the person making that choice.

Libertarianism is based on self-ownership. This is the claim of jurisdiction that every human being rightfully has over his or her own body simply by virtue of being human. Self-ownership underlies all other rights. Indeed, if you don't own yourself, then it makes no sense to speak of freedom of conscience or belief, freedom of speech or association, or to lay claim to the products of your labor. If you do not have jurisdiction over what is under your skin, then you cannot claim anything.

There is a word to describes the situation in which another party claims ownership over the body of another: it is "slavery." As such, the Nanny State is misnamed. Although it would like to project the image of a wise guardianship of children -- a sort of stern Mary Poppins who uses a "spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down" -- a more accurate image is that of a slave owner. One hand of the Nanny State may be wagging an admonishing finger at you but the other hand is holding a whip at-the-ready.

A-yup.  And that's just an excerpt.  The whole thing is worth a read.


  • Sammy 5 years ago

    Nothing on McChrystal today?

  • Kent McManigal- 5 years ago

    Sammy- Nothing on the hypothetical teapot orbiting Mars, either. So what?

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