The Cost of Rights
The Cost of Rights is disarmingly simple: as Robert A. Heinlein once put it, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” If legal rights are to be considered meaningful, argue coauthors Stephen Holmes and Cass Sunstein, the existence of a government is required to first establish and then to enforce those rights. Running a government costs money; therefore, paying taxes is necessary in order to support the communal infrastructure that upholds individual rights. Each of the book’s 14 chapters is essentially a variation on this theme, considering the proposition with regard to property rights, the effect of scarcity upon liberty, or the ways in which religious liberty contributes to social stability, all leading back to the conclusion that “government is still the most effective instrument available by which a politically charged society can pursue its common objectives, including the shared aim of securing the protection of legal rights for all.”
This book covers an important issue that is rarely bought up: liberty, rights etc. depend of an enforcement mechanism.
And this enforcement mechanism is government. Weak governments (such as those of the current Russia) cannot guarantee property rights or any other rights for their citizens. Anyone who feels they can establish their rights without government should visit Somalia and see how easy or difficult it is in the absence of government.
How would you establish right to a plot of land, for instance, without a title, some means of enforcing property laws ?