Julian Sanchez has a post up complaining about all us horrible lefties who are deriving great enjoyment from the fact that, in the Koch/Cato bunfight, shills for the rights of private property are being stiffed by those same private property rights. Corey Robin has a pretty good reply, so go read Corey.
when it comes to the ongoing Koch/Cato conflict, there’s a bafflingly widespread round of herp-derpery rippling through blogs on the left and the right, wherein people imagine it’s clever to point out the supposed irony of libertarian scholars failing to enthusiastically embrace a couple billionaires’ putative property rights over the institution. This is just strange. …I’m not arguing that Congress should intervene somehow. I’m arguing that exercising those rights as they seemingly intend to is a bad idea; that their direct control would, in itself, be damaging to Cato’s credibility; and that I’m not interested in working for the Republican talking-point factory that all evidence suggests they envision. Like rain on your wedding day and other infamous Alanisisms, that’s kind of crappy, but not “ironic” in any recognizable sense. I realize progressives think libertarianism is just code for uncritical worship of rich people, but as that’s not actually the case, the only irony here is that people think they’re scoring some kind of gotcha point when they’re actually exposing the silliness of their own caricature.
Well of course Sanchez is correct. Libertarians are as free as anyone else to criticize people for the way they exercise their rights, they just don’t think the state should coerce people to act in various ways. They can deplore Scrooge like selfishness just as sincerely as any leftie, they just think it would be wrong of the state to force Scrooge to be be nice to the poor. So it goes.
No doubt there are some soft and cuddly propertarians out there who insist on the rights to private property (and hence oppose enforceable positive duties) but who privately devote their time, money and other resources to helping the global (and local) poor. To those libertarians, I apologise in advance. However, to those libertarians who have spent ink and energy arguing that not only would it be wrong to force to rich to help the poor but also that it would be pointless or counterproductive I do not. And then there are those libertarians who don’t even both with pointless or counterproductive but who argue that the strong helping the weak is just wrong, namely the Randians. So, pure-in-spirit rights-defenders (of whom Julian Sanchez may be one): just take it on the chin for now and spend some time arguing with the wealthy that, whilst they have a perfect right to spend their money funding Cato (or Heritage, or the AEI) they really could make better use of their rights by sending their cash to the sub-Saharan poor or similar. (See also, this very old post of mine ).