Reading the "Public Use" clause

Douglas Laycock DLaycock at
Fri Jun 24 16:10:16 PDT 2005

I am not a libertarian (although I do think we are way over regulated),
so I do not speak for libertarians.  But there is a certain coherence to
saying we should minmize economic regulation and run the social safety
net solely through direct subsidies to the poor, financed from a simple
and broad-based tax designed to minimize incentives for taxpayers to
change their economic behavior.  The coherence is that rigging the
market to help the poor is generally an inefficient way to go about it,
and it distorts the behavior of the non-poor more than a broad-based
Douglas Laycock
University of Texas Law School
727 E. Dean Keeton St.
Austin, TX  78705
   512-232-1341 (phone)
   512-471-6988 (fax)


From: conlawprof-bounces at
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at] On Behalf Of RJLipkin at
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2005 5:50 PM
Subject: Re: Reading the "Public Use" clause

        It should be noted for whatever relevance it might have to this
thread but more importantly for its relevance to libertarian theory
generally that such relatively recent classical libertarians as Ayn
Rand, Nathaniel Brandon, John Hospers, and, if I remember correctly,
Robert Nozick reject the idea that redistribution for the benefit of the
poor is compatible with libertarianism. Now there might be more
contemporary forms of "libertarianism" that permit the creation of a
social safety-net through taxation and spending; indeed, some
libertarians might not wince at embracing a theory whose coherence is
questionable.  But classical libertarians embrace this theory not only
for its commitment to liberty, but also for its conceptual coherence. 
       As someone who at one time was committed to classical
libertarianism and who even now still admires the unity and coherence of
the theory, it's difficult to apprehend how "safety-net
'libertarianism'" is a form of libertarianism at all. 
Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law
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