Of course, I'm talking about a private sector that gets no privileges from the state. That doesn't describe our private sector now. For years government has bestowed all kinds of favors on special interests, from trade restrictions on foreign competitors to cash subsidies and cheap loans to corporate tax deductions for health insurance. People in and out of government have conspired to pollute the voluntary private sector with force and regimentation. That's why we have a mixed rather than a free economy.
Thomas Jefferson said, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." Was he ever right! Liberty yields as well-intentioned busybodies try to "fix" the world by stopping you from using gasoline or forcing you to finance antipoverty programs.
No behavior is too small or private to escape the schemers. When a New Zealand couple recently named their child "4real," the Washington Times said it was "unfortunate" that the government doesn't forbid that. The "conservative" newspaper named the couple "Knaves of the Week."
That prompted Donald Boudreaux, chairman of the economics department at George Mason University, to write the editor: "I choose you as my 'Knave of the Week' for asserting that the decision on naming a child should belong to politicians and bureaucrats rather than exclusively to that child's parents. True knaves are those who arrogantly impose their tastes and preferences upon others."
Exactly. "Live and let live" used to be a noble approach to life. Now you're considered compassionate if you demand that government impose your preferences on others.
I prefer "live and let live."