Reply to mcsnee - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal
May. 14th, 2006
02:11 am - Reply to mcsnee
My replies to mcsnee's comments on this article. For future reference.
Riiiiight. The government that is primarily made up of rich folks is going to inflate the currency so that their own money becomes valueless, all to pay off the national debt.
Well, they're still going to own hard assets -- real estate, gold, company shares. Moreover, inflation is not going to happen uniformly, all at once. As the money rolls off the presses, those first in line will get to spend the money at pre-inflation prices. I expect that wealthy cronies of the whoever is office will be first in line. As the increased money supply ripples throughout the economy however, prices will rise and the currency will be debased. Worst case scenario, the wealthy will transfer their wealth to legal regimes with stable currencies.
It's not as if it hasn't happened before.
To be enforced how?
All good questions. First, let me note that I hardly expect the sketch below to be persuasive to you, given your intellectual priors. Most of what I describe are, as yet, theoretical possibilities. If you want to pursue it further, I recommend reading some of the books at the end.
In the long run, I would like to see humanity organized as a multitude of small communites, bound loosely together by trade, and mutual defense treaties. There would be a wide variety of legal regimes. However, in most communities, most decision-making authority would be in the hands of individuals. Travel and trade between most communities would be easy. Secession would be as widely recognized as a fundamental right as freedom of speech is now.
To get there, I would like to:
a. radically downsize the federal government, and devolve power to individuals, and secondarily to the state and local governments. Only the courts and the military would remain at the federal level.
b. add a formal secession mechanisms to the federal legal system. If successful, I expect the U.S. to break up into a number of smaller, more managable states. (This may happen anyway, due to economic collapse, war, etc.)
c. increase the use of sortition, idea futures markets, and social policy bonds as alternative means of governance and funding of public goods.
d. support the development and growth of ocean and eventually space colonization technologies. For the reasons described in Patri Friedman's paper, Dynamic Geography: A Blueprint for Efficient Government, I expect ocean and space colonies to result in much more liberty friendly governments than land-based regimes.
Now, given current public attitudes, I expect the success of a) and b) to be in the distant future. However, most of the ideas in c) and d) can be profitably experimented with now.
If you want more information regarding why I want the goals above, and why I think they're feasible, I recommend the following books/articles. I realize that it's a lot of info, so if you were to read just one book, I would recommend The Voluntary City, edited by Alex Tabarrok.
The Voluntary City : Choice, Community, and Civil Society by Alexander Tabarrok. "....The Voluntary City investigates the history of large-scale, private provision of social services...Among the fascinating topics covered are: how mutual-aid societies in America, Great Britain, and Australia provided their members with medical care, unemployment insurance, sickness insurance, and other social services before the welfare state; how private law, known historically as the law merchant, is returning in the form of arbitration; and why the rise of neighborhood associations represents the most comprehensive privatization occurring in the United States today...."
See also Fred Foldvary's book, Public Goods and Private Communities.
Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman - How a polycentric legal system might work.
Free Market Environmentalism by Terry L. Anderson. - How markets and property rights can protect forests, air quality, etc.
FDA review How the FDA causes more harm than good.
Mutual Aid Societies -- How social services (welfare, care for orphans and the indigent) were provided prior to the introduction of the Great Society programs of the 60's.
Railroads and Regulation by Gabriel Kolko. Shows how regulatory agencies come to be captured by the industries they regulate, and are then used to bludgeon competitors.
The Medical Monopoly: Protecting Consumers Or Limiting Competition? by Sue Blevins. Shows how the AMA took control over the medical industry, and limited the supply of doctors by shutting down medical schools, many of them servicing blacks and women.
Child Labor and The Industrial Revolution by Clark Nardinelli. Shows how child labor laws were irrelevant at best, and harmful at worst.
Myth of National Defence edited by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. A collection of essays which describe how national defense could be privately produced. Available online here. An extended positive review: The National Defense Myth by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr..
Anti-Jitney Laws Take People for a Ride by Lawrence W. Reed. How jitney cabs could provide cheap, flexible transportation --- and how they're regulated out of existence by taxi monopolies.
Home Economics. Profile of Harvard Economist Edward L. Glaeser, whose research demonstrated that most of the regional difference in housing prices is due to restrictive zoning.
Economic Laws of Scientific Research by Terence Kealey. How scientific research could be better funded by private organizations.
The Calculus of Consent : Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy by Gordon Tullock and James Buchanan. Applies economic analysis to politics. Explains why government 'solutions' to market 'failure' are often nothing of the sort.
What's the point of being a party that consistently polls around 2% and will never have any real power? The ability to smugly point out where other people are going wrong?
You're quite right. However, given current public opinion, libertarians have few good options. In my opinion, if they want to win directly, libertarians should form a caucus within either the Democrat or Republican party. However, the more you compromise, the less the results are what you actually want. Certainly, the victory of the Republicans, who mouthed adherence to many libertarian ideals of small government, have done little actual good for libertarian causes and much harm.
On the other hand, as you point out, a principled third party will be a barely noticed loser.
In my opinion, libertarians should 1) concentrate their forces in a single state. 2) work toward demonstrating the technolgies in c) and d) above 3) check the growth of leviathan as much as they can within traditional party politics 4) work to change the culture through TV, books, movies, blogs, etc.