Richard Reinsch, the editor of the Library of Law and Liberty, has written a short post defending the organization’s publishing of this piece, in which Dalrymple argues that a comparison of the book trade in Britain and France justifies some of the French regulations of the industry. The implementation of a price floor on books in France, Dalrymple says, increases the quality of books available and raises the general cultural level. Mr. Reinsch disagrees with Dalrymple’s argument but says the organization’s goal is to spark debate and to consider many points of view.
Whether or not Dalrymple is right about the effects of the French regulations, it seems his larger point provides a litmus test of one’s philosophical purity. Assuming it is true that some restraints on trade have beneficial effects while of course also decreasing economic efficiency and limiting freedom, could those regulations ever be justified? Libertarians, it seems, are loathe to consider any exceptions.
A perfect example of the difference between a conservative and a libertarian. If the former comes across an empirical case of laissez-faire economics accelerating cultural decline in one particular nook of life, he won’t let the views of a Milton Friedman (let alone an Ayn Rand) prevent him from saying so.