Minarchy is either unnecessary or impossible Tuesday, January 19, 2010Either there are or there are not people in the world who would be willing and able to faithfully defend you from aggression at a cost less than the maximum amount that you'd be willing to pay for their service.
If there are such people, then you can simply hire those people to protect you. In this case, minarchist government is unnecessary.
If there are not such people, then there is no one who is willing to do the things that a minarchist state is supposed to perform. Minarchy is, in this case, impossible.
- At Wed Jan 20, 10:41:00 AM EST, Taylor Conant said...
"What about minarchist government to provide law and courts?"
- At Wed Jan 20, 07:58:00 PM EST, James said...
If there are people willing to provide law and courts for less than the highest price you are willing to pay, then minarchy is unnecessary. You can just hire those people to provide law and courts.
If there is no one willing to provide law and courts at a price which is agreeable to you, then minarchy is impossible because there is no one willing to do what a minarchist government is supposed to do.
- At Tue Mar 16, 12:57:00 PM EDT, said...
If there are people who are willing to provide law and courts to you for less than the price you are willing to pay, it does not imply that you can just hire the people to provide law and courts; unless by "willing to pay" you mean "willing to pay the whole cost yourself", rather, "than willing to pay a share of the cost yourself".
Very few individuals will be able to provide for the whole cost of a court system or even one court room and one judge.
Of course that also applies to things like automobile factories. I can't buy one by I can buy a car. The difference here is the car is a private good. I can keep others from using it, and if I'm using it others are not.
Much of what a court does is not providing private goods. Sure settling particular disputes can be (which is why we have for profit private arbitration), but defining the parameters of the law, or ordering criminals to be punished to be deterred, or incarcerated to be temporarily rendered less of a danger is a public good (at least if its done correctly, if done sufficently poorly it can be a public bad).
The same goes for police or the military. Keeping the domestic peace or deterring or defeating foreign invaders (who will presumably eliminate the minarchist system or your preferred anarchy, and take total control) is at least mostly a public good.
And yes I'm well aware that the public good argument can be abused to try to justify just about any nanny state action as being for the public good, but an invalid use of the idea doesn't mean the idea is itself invalid.
- At Fri Apr 30, 11:24:00 PM EDT, James said...
Either there are or there are not people willing to make the exchange that minarchists think a government should make with me.
If there are people willing to make such an exchange, the public goods situation doesn't matter. If they are willing, they don't need to call themselves a government to complete the transaction.
Your entire argument is based on the false premise that the people in the government are willing to provide public goods. Check out what most governments are up to and you'll find almost everything governments provide is either rivalrous in consumption, or excludable, or both. Hardly anything that any actual government does has anything to do with public goods.
- At Fri Sep 03, 10:29:00 AM EDT, said...
What if there are no such people willing and able to do it as an exchange between private entities but there are such people willing and able to do it as a political system?
- At Fri Sep 03, 11:44:00 AM EDT, Taylor Conant said...
1.) If private parties are not willing to do an exchange of their property, it demonstrates they perceive no net value or wealth would be created from such an exchange.
2.) Public/political entities might have willingness to cause exchanges to happen, but they are expressing willingness about property that is not theirs. If Larry has a steel plant and Moe has $50M and the two of them might not be willing to exchange, I might be willing to have them exchange but it doesn't really matter what I think because the property doesn't belong to me.
There is no difference between the government acting on its willingness to exchange your value for its value via taxation, and an individual who wishes to steal value from another in exchange for the value he now posits in that stolen item.
- At Mon Sep 06, 10:39:00 PM EDT, James said...
Are you suggesting that someone is willing to sell me the services that a minarchist government is supposed to provide, but only if they get to do political stuff too? That's no obstacle. If people want to pollute the roadways with "vote for me" signs or similar stuff they could do so tomorrow, if that will somehow sweeten the deal. They don't need my help to engage in political activities.
Personally, I'd feel nervous trusting my physical security to anyone with such bizarre preferences, though. Would you trust anyone who made an offer like "I'll protect you from theives for $50/month, so long as I get to have pictures of my face on the roadside and a headquarters with marble columns?"
- At Mon Sep 20, 06:48:00 PM EDT, said...
Thanks for your replies both.
Political powers don't have to be limited to golden statues and honorifics. What if someone says "I can do it but only if people will also follow this rule that will help me to do it [let's say a limit to the amount of people congregating in the area and a ban on certain weapons]."
Since the defenders being able to defend you relies on all people who ever enter the area either following the rules or facing some penalty, the decision is not fully yours, so it can't be a private exchange between you and the defenders.
In such a case it is not unnecessary, because it cannot be established as a private exchange, and it is not impossible, because it can be established by giving the defenders political privileges, which require more than that you can barter away.
Let's pretend that the defenders are completely honest in this situation.
@James, I'm not suggesting that anything specific is the case but rather I'm trying to find cases where your idea doesn't work. Consider it a sort of stress-testing.