Saturday, July 14, 2012

The New York Times Meets Property Rights

The New York Times meets Property Rights

Tibor R. Machan

Over the last several years I have subscribed to The Sunday New York Times, mainly because it came with accessibility to its daily online editions.  I like to read the Op Ed pieces and editorials and chime in here and there with some sanity where the paper lays out its loony leftists ideology.  For example, I found it valuable to oppose the doctrine that people are entitled to a great variety of free goods and services, i.e., goods and services others must pay for.

When President Obama’s health insurance scheme became the subject of widespread public discussion, I was committed to pointing out how this was going to be yet another case of trying to rob Peter so as to benefit Paul, by whatever obscure criterion of eligibility.  I was targeting my points at Paul Krugman and others who served as Mr. Obama’s ideological cheerleaders.  But not just at Professor Krugman but at all those who promoted policies that would chip away at human liberty, in more or less Draconian ways.

Well, suddenly The New York Times no longer makes it possible for online readers to offer comments easily--to do so one must climb over several walls, email letters to the editor, etc., etc.  And reading the comments of other readers is no longer possible (or if it is then it is by no means as simple as it used to be).  In other words, The New York Times is making changes, most likely to save money or to avoid having to deal with contrarians among its online readers.  I don’t actually know what lies behind the changes but I do not like them.  

However, and this is a notion that the editors and publishers at The Times probably do not appreciate at all, the paper belongs to them and they have the authority--based on the right to private property--to institute the changes however much I and very probably a bunch of other readers do not like them.  We are not entitled to the provision of various services from The Times, such as accepting comments from readers, notifying us that the comments have appeared online, etc., and so forth.  The paper belongs to them not me and others whose desires are no longer being fulfilled as they used to be.  Something has changed at The Times and the publishers and editors there have the right to make the needed adjustments just as they see fit.  They do not owe me and others like me a platform for expressing our dismay with what appears in the pages of the paper.  Yes, we may wish for this very much.  We may even have become habituated to offering up our ideas for the editors and readers to ponder.  But that doesn’t entitle us one whit to being given room in the pages of The Times.

Only, the publishers and editors and most Op Ed contributors to the paper just don’t get it--they are exercising a right that they do not recognize for other people, such as those who do not want to contribute funds the Mr. Obama’s health care budget or who do not want to follow mandates to which they gave no consent! These editors and publishers just decided, unilaterally, to close me and thousands of others out from the forums they could continue to keep open to us all.  And they probably don’t even realize that this right, this authority they have to do so, is entirely inconsistent with their welfare statist public philosophy. 

No, I and others like me do not have a right to gain entrance to the pages of The New York Times, in print or online.  And the folks at The Times know this well and good and act accordingly.  They didn’t need my permission to shut me out.  It was their right to make that decision.  

Which is central to human freedom, based on the right to private property, a right The Times doesn’t much like and certainly doesn’t defend in its editorials.

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