The Coercive “Solution”

by | Oct 30, 2022

Do as I say, or else you will be fined or sent to prison.

Other people do not always act the way that we would prefer. Rational people accept that fact and resort to persuasion in an attempt to change the offending behavior. Sadly, a growing number of people are rejecting persuasion and embracing the coercive “solution.”

The essence of the coercive “solution” is: Do as I say, or else you will be fined or sent to prison.

For example, many landlords do not accept housing vouchers. Housing activists don’t like this fact. But rather than attempt to persuade landlords to accept vouchers, they want to force landlords to do so by prohibiting “source of income” discrimination.

Developers are reticent to build housing for low-income households. Housing activists don’t like this. But rather than remove the regulatory burdens that make such housing unprofitable, housing activists call for “inclusionary” zoning to force developers to include below-market rate housing in their projects.

As a final example, many individuals refuse to get vaccinated. Many government officials do not like this. But rather than attempt to persuade individuals to get vaccinated, they resort to coercion and require it.

In each of these examples, as well as countless others, persuasion is rejected, and the coercive “solution” is embraced. Rather than protect the freedom of individuals to act on their own judgment, the advocates for coercion want to force others to act as the advocates judge best. Rather than respect the freedom of others to come to conclusions that might differ from ours, the advocates for coercion want to prohibit individuals from acting on dissenting points of view.

One consequence of embracing the coercive “solution” is a competition to influence legislators. Unable and unwilling to rely on persuasion, they seek to wield control over others through government mandates and prohibitions. They seek to use force to achieve what they cannot gain through voluntary means.

 

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Brian Phillips is the founder of the Texas Institute for Property Rights. Brian has been defending property rights for nearly thirty years. He played a key role in defeating zoning in Houston, Texas, and in Hobbs, New Mexico. He is the author of three books: Individual Rights and Government Wrongs, The Innovator Versus the Collective, and Principles and Property Rights. Visit his website at texasipr.com.

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