Should I resent having been evicted?

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There's a weird presumption among liberals that libertarians have no right to accept human decency in interpersonal interactions because, after all . . . the market!

People have a legal right to mutter "bitch" as I walk past, blog extensively about how fat and unattractive I am, or ignore my ideas on the grounds that Irish Catholics are naturally stupid. Businesses have a legal right to provide sullen and unhelpful salespeople, filthy premises, and cheaply made products that fall apart one day after the warranty expires. All Americans have the legal right to say nasty things to their spouses, watch football instead of talking to their kids, stop bathing, and drop dear old friends in favor of richer, more attractive ones.

I would not dream of making any of these things against the law. But I can still be appalled when people do them. Being a libertarian means recognizing the limits of the formal legal system to regulate human behavior--not recognizing the formal legal system as the only limitation on human behavior.

My landlord was entitled to evict me on a month's notice, forcing my 62 year old mother to commute to pulmonary rehab from upstate New York. And though I could have made trouble for my landlord in New York's famously tenant friendly housing court, I didn't, not only because I didn't want the hassle, but also because I genuinely believed that they had the legal right to evict me.

But that doesn't mean I have to like the way they treated me, or think it's fair; I just have to accept it as the price of living in a modern (classical) liberal system.

Update I forget I have new readers now. I was evicted at the end of April because my landlord sold the building and the new owners kicked everyone out in order to, apparently, do a quick flip. I didn't do anything, other than occupy an apartment they wanted to sell, to bring it on myself.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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