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Libertarian Humbuggery

At the heart of the Christmas story is the lowly birth of Christ, surrounded by beasts of the field and honored by Magi bearing gifts.  But consider how differently the Christmas narrative might have unfolded if ancient Judea had been organized as a free-market economy of the sort trumpeted by our libertarian friends.  Imagine Joseph and Mary arriving in Bethlehem, weary and overwrought from the dusty journey.  They have, much to their relief, no difficulty at all finding room in an inn.  Under the enlightened despotism of King Herod, the thriving market economy in Bethlehem has produced an array of commodious lodgings.  Not one but several inns clamor for their business, and local entrepreneurs are renting out spare rooms to turn a quick profit on the influx of census registrants.  One of the inns is offering special rates for expectant mothers and boasts an in-house midwife.  Joseph, needless to say, is pleased: He has been apprehensive all day, lest Mary go into sudden labor.  Soon, the anxious couple is snuggly ensconced for the night.  The midwife, aware of Mary’s delicate condition, stations herself at the ready just inside the door.  Joseph, exhausted, falls into a deep slumber, only to be awakened in the wee hours by the sound of a crying child and the midwife’s gruff laughter.  Meanwhile, Herod has decreed that all infants under the...

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