These comparisons are sometimes made as arguments in favor of the former in each pair being forcibly prevented:
- Selling equity in yourself is like slavery
- Allowing organ selling is like stealing organs
- Choosing genetic characteristics of your children is like eugenics
- Languages dying out is like genocide
- Selling babies is like slavery, or is like stealing babies and selling them
- Sweatshops are like slavery
- Euthenasia is like murder
- Prostitution is like rape
- Globalization is like colonialism
- Any more to add?
The general pattern:
Freely chosen X is like X coerced. And as X coerced is bad, we should prevent X (coercively if need be).
Why is this error prevalent? I suspect it stems from assuming value to be in goods or activities, rather than in the minds of their beholders. Consent is important because it separates those who value something enough to do it and those who don’t. Without the idea that people value things different amounts, consent seems just another nice thing to have, but not functional. If most people wouldn’t make a choice unless forced, then that choice is bad, then others making it should be stopped.
I wonder if this is related to the misunderstanding that trade must be exploitative, because employers gain and the gain must come from somewhere. This also appears to stem from overlooking the possibility that people place different values on the same things, so extra value can be created by exchange.
This is related.