Although it is senseless to campaign against so-called “white privilege” (as I have recently argued), one sort of pervasive privilege is real, it is evil, and it should be not only checked but ultimately abolished. It is the privilege government grants to some people to violate the rights of others. Call it “statist privilege.”

The term privilege in its original sense means private legislation; “privus” refers to individual, while “legis” refers to law. Beyond the designation of public positions appropriate to a rights-respecting government (legislators, executives, judges, and the like), government should not grant privileges to anyone, but should instead equally protect the rights of everyone. (Other senses of the term “privilege” are not under consideration here; the word also means “advantage”—e.g., a wealthy child has a privileged upbringing in that respect—and “honor”—e.g., it is privilege to know great men.)

Under today’s system of statist privilege, politicians and bureaucrats (supported by various interest groups) legally confiscate vast wealth from producers and give the wealth to those who do not earn it and who do not deserve it. Under statist privilege, government actively throttles some producers to “help” other producers or to satisfy some interest group. Statist privilege pervades nearly every aspect of today’s government and economy.

The next time someone demands that government confiscate more wealth from producers or curtail people’s ability to act on their own judgment, an appropriate response—particularly to leftists who continually misuse the concept privilege—is: Check your statist privilege.


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