Visual Education has sold language flashcards for years. Part of the value of the product is selecting *which* 1000 words to include in a set of language cards. I’m sure this information was hard-won by consulting linguists, or more likely paying a professor to compile a list and format the cards the first time. They charge a premium for the cards vs. the same cards blank (compare their set of 1000 Portuguese flashcards for $14.95 versus their set of 1000 blank flashcards for $6.95). I willingly pay this premium, but any entrepreneur could put together a set of language cards and sell them just like Vis-Ed.
Indeed, they could copy Vis-Ed’s list of words. I have no idea whether Vis-Ed can or does have a copyright on their list of words. Hard to see how they could. And yet, the premium charge is there and consumers willingly pay it.
Say “prohibition violence” instead.
One of the hot button issues in recent years has been gay marriage. Socially conservative people may well object to calling a gay union “marriage. That is, of course, completely understandable. Marriage and religion have been closely intertwined, and the most popular religions in the world today do not generally regard a same sex union as a marriage. I was considering the various positions taken by libertarians on gay marriage. I have seen opinions from libertarians that marriage licenses should not be issued to gays because a state marriage license enables aggression against third parties. That is true. Also, some, such as Stephan Kinsella, argue that it is a good that gays get the legal protections which come with a marriage license.
Second bests are divisive issues for libertarians. We all wish for the state to leave people alone, but we are all too painfully aware that it frequently does not, and that there are political debates raging around us where policies are promoted which have real world consequences for us all. Many of us seek to minimize the harmful effects of these policies by stating a preference of one over the other. Such is the case with gay marriage. Libertarians of varying stripes, mutualists, paleolibertarians, anarcho-capitalists, all agree that the state should get out of the way and not interfere with free interactions among people. Yet different ideologies among libertarians often cause us to differ wildly on what state policy we would prefer, from the likely choices being supported by the public.
I have long been of the opinion that state licensing should be extended to the point that it is meaningless. However, a license which allows aggression against others should give any libertarian pause. In order to consider the problem more effectively, I did a thought experiment involving a much more severe form of aggression than those normally associated with a marriage license: murder.