Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Negative Right, Positive Rights, and Bankruptcy

If the proposed bankruptcy law enables the government to force more people to repay debts instead of simply wiping out their assets, then it will increase positively-positive rights. To repeat my earlier distinction:

Libertarians usually classify property rights as negative rights. On the other hand, property rights, at least when they include the right of stockholders to defend their property against an Enron-style mutiny, require government activity. (You can make the case that defending small objects or even small pieces of real estate can be done in the absence of government.)

One way to distinguish between those property rights that require government enforcement and the usual examples of positive rights is that property rights are enforced by ensuring that some things don't happen whereas positive rights requires that some things do happen. We can call property rights part of “negatively-positive rights” whereas a right to medical care is one of the “positively-positive rights.”

This sounds distinctively leftist to me. Come to think of it, these regulations are only supposed to affect people with incomes above the median. It won't extract blood money from the poor but from the upper-middle class. If these regulations attract enough competition to the credit-card business to force interest rates down, the poor might even benefit.


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