10:05 am October 13, 2009, by jgalloway
The David Letterman fracas has caused the New Yorker to pose this very Libertarian question: Why should blackmail be illegal? If information is a commodity, why should its sale be restricted or impeded?
Here’s a taste:
“The Marxists used to say that capitalism is like blackmail—everyone tries to buy people off. Many social transactions look like blackmail when you examine them.” He listed a few: “couples in divorce proceedings basically blackmailing each other to get a better deal,” consumers telling a company “if they don’t get a settlement they’ll go to the press”—in other words, any negotiations based on threats.
What makes blackmail different? “There’s no good reason to allow it,” Smilansky said. “But our attitude towards blackmail, that it’s so unusual, so terrible—it’s just sanctimonious.”
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