Can a cost-benefit analysis justify initiated force?

Are some statist plans so good that it’s okay to use threats of violence to make others participate? To have any hope of justifying such a claim you would need to learn all of the following…

  • How much each person would value the benefits of your plan
  • How much pain each person would feel because of having to submit to your plan, or because of what they had to pay for it
  • That your scheme would actually deliver its promised rewards
  • That the people you took resources from would not have achieved better results following their own preferred plans
  • That your scheme could not be executed except by initiating force

In practice, statists never attempt to acquire this knowledge, nor would it be possible to do so. The claim that some cost-benefit analysis justifies initiated force is simply fraudulent. No such complete analysis is ever really done for any statist scheme.

Jim Babka

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Jim Babka

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Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

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Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

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Show Comments 9


  1. Would the IRS AND required travel papers known as a drivers license be a good example of this?

    1. Yes! And Social Security and Medicare and Unemployment Insurance and all other types of welfare and subsidies (agriculture, mining, tobacco you name it). May I recommend Away from Freedom by Vervon Orval Watts; it is only about 100 pages and IMHO should be thoroughly studied in schools by every student every two years from 8th Grade through college.

      1. Social Security is not welfare and neither is unemployment insurance. Insurance comes with the payment of a premium. If unemployment insurance is welfare then car insurance, life insurance and health insurance must be, too. Please get your facts straight. The biggest welfare program we have in this country is the one that supports the military industrial complex. War is big business and makes a lot of people a lot of money except for the people who pay for it, of course – the taxpayer. It makes them and the country a lot poorer. 4 trillion dollars have been spent on Afghanistan and Iraq war and what has it gotten us. Nothing, but it has made a lot of rich people even more rich. Take the profit out of war and there will be far fewer wars.

        1. it is welfare if money or wealth or goods or services are paid for in whole or in part by someone else. It is criminal if governmnent engages in the looting mechanism. Welfare should be named legalized plunder, which is exactly what Frederic Bastiat did in “The Law” way back in 1850.

  2. How can we deal with the Social engineering power monger control freaks. Regressive Progressive.
    Liberalism is a mental disorder crowed with their collective statists GUN in our back.????????

    1. Liberalism is the side of statism we are currently see manifesting: even the Libertarian party has fallen prey to its siren song. ( Just find the Libertarian party debate hosted by John Stossel if you don’t believe me) But there does tend to be the ‘pendulum swing ‘ back in the other direction, this is part of the reason I believe we had Bush to play on the NeoCon fear of ‘terrorism’ to get the oxymoron of a bill called the Patriot Act passed. This dealt a blow to quite a few of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Then, of course, Obama comes along and signs the (un) Affordable Care Act which is not even morally affordable for groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor (who feed people regardless of their faith or lack thereof.) There are too many statists on both sides of the Liberal/Conservative divide. The rich have their own form of welfare, sometimes called ‘corporate welfare’, which some conservatives are all too happy to support. (not to mention the war on terror, which precipitated the Patriot Act and the attack on the Bill of Rights it entailed)

  3. The sad thing is that if these programs were defined and presented to the public as an opt in kind of arrangement, the market would easily determine the value for us individuals. As far as the statists are concerned, they likely reach their “personal benefit” target when supporting such proposals.

  4. The sinister beauty of Racism, is that it completely bypasses the difficult parts of this ethical analysis. The Racist says, “Only our group’s pains and benefits, really matter.” The Racist simply makes up a skewed cost-benefit analysis, based on one group “deserving” what is to be taken from the other “undeserving” group, and looks simply at the Pain Cost of waging war upon the “undeserving” group, to force them to surrender the demanded things, or die.
    It’s truly brilliant, to trick people into applying logical argument, when one side has made up a supply of lies with which to obscure any possible set of true facts that may emerge. But that capacity to spread lies, by force, has been the key to success, of every statist movement throughout human history.
    If we could not be tricked into believing the statists’ promises, we would not see a reason to surrender our rationality to a Leader, and march off to the killing fields bordering our “undeserving” neighbors.
    Coercion is inherently ugly, evil, and violent. If we could bottle up the stench of a battlefield, of blood and urine and excrement and burnt cordite, and release it to the air of meeting rooms where governmental bodies devise policies, perhaps we would remember the true cost of coercion, in lives lost and harm done. No Leader who proposes killing, to acquire things from other people, is worth following.

    1. I concur. But unfortunately the majority of voters lack such reason/logic as evidenced by those who en mass vote for the commie/socialists, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (Yes, they are commie/socialists contrary to protestations, as evidenced by their records that show how they support the 10 Planks of the commie manifesto). Well stated Bob, regards.

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