free market services vs monopoly government

Kent Crispin kent at
Sat Aug 2 02:12:40 PDT 1997

On Fri, Aug 01, 1997 at 11:32:04AM +0100, Adam Back wrote:

After reading your long response I have one general comment:

"No Fair!"

Remember your rhetorical question that started this: "indeed why have
any governments at all?" That reflects a *vastly* different position
than favoring less government.  Analogy: it would be better for my
health if I ate less.  It would not be good at all for my health to
eat zero.  Your rhetorical question posed the "zero" position for
government, and that was the position I was arguing against.  

But your reasoning is this, apparently: "Kent says he doesn't believe
it is possible for a human society to not have a government, therefore
Kent favors big intrusive government." This kind of "reasoning" is
rife on cypherpunks; may I suggest it is beneath you?

With that little thing out of the way:

> > Consequently, a statement like "Government is always bad" is ipso
> > facto a shallow generalization, and my natural reaction is to point
> > out that sometimes government is good.
> I'll admit there are situations where a government may make a good
> decision, or handle a situation not too badly, or not that
> restrictively.  Such situations are quite rare though, aren't they :-)

Compared to what? Compared to an imagined libertarian utopia, or
compared to really bad situations (say, North Korea), or Cambodia
under Pol Pot? In fact, you and I live lives of unbridled luxury,
compared to a majority of the human race.  Our government has 
something to do with that.  Put another way: your debit governments 
for the bad things they do, but you don't credit them for the bad 
things they prevent.  A fair analysis would include both.


> > I don't think of government as a "necessary evil", either.  Rather,
> > I think that a government of some kind is an inevitable outgrowth of
> > human nature.  I think this for three compelling reasons: first, it is
> > obversationally true -- there are essentially no human beings who live
> > without a government of some kind; second, because it is in agreement
> > with all my observations and knowledge of human nature; and third,
> > because it makes sense to me as the rational consequence of the
> > existence of force as an interpersonal interaction. 
> As a general rule: less government intervention is more efficient than
> more.

Re: my eating habits, above.

> This is because the free market is better at meeting people's
> demands in a tailored fashion than any socialist/communist planned
> economy handed down by a few big-wigs.

That's hardly a recommendation, now is it?

> Are you against privatisation?  Are you against deregulation?

In general, no.

> > In fact, of course, the US generates a great deal of wealth for its
> > citizens, who are among the best off and most productive of any nation
> > on earth.  Of course it could be better, but it could be a whole lot
> > worse.  To say that the form of government had nothing to do with that
> > *success* is intellectually dishonest -- one can just as easily argue
> > that things are good in the US largely *because* we have a relatively
> > good government. 
> Jeez, just imagine how much better off you could be without all the
> government crapola.

How so? I could have more money? That's a rathole without a bottom --
I have an adequate supply.  More personal freedom? The main constraint
on me is lack of time to enjoy the freedoms I already have.  If I 
make a realistic assessment of my life, less government isn't going 
to make any significant difference, and I wager that it wouldn't make 
any significant difference to you, either.  We are both members of 
the technological elite, doing pretty damn much what we please, and 
having a good time doing it.

So I am not a good example of someone who might be better off.  Well,
how about someone not in our fortunate position? That's not clear
either, but for entirely different reasons.  In the US the economy has
done very well the last few years, but there is this troubling
undercurrent about the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer
-- the economy isn't like the tide -- it doesn't seem to float all 
boats.  And I have no confidence that the unfettered free-market 
utopia you dream about is going to be equitable in its distribution 
of wealth.


> > > eg. I can go buy into Uncle Enzo's pizza delivery and protection
> > > racket because the protection is 5000% better value for money than the
> > > Feds deal.
> > 
> > How do you get out from Uncle Enzo's protection racket when things go 
> > sour, if Uncle Enzo doesn't allow his customers to leave, or even to 
> > say anything bad about him?
> Anyway you just buy into Mr Lee's New Hong Kong protection racket, and
> Uncle Enzo will respect Mr Lee's fire-power enough to consider it not
> worth the effort of picking on small fry like you.

Mr Lee isn't interested in dealing with you -- he will deal with 
Uncle Enzo.  You are an insignificant pawn to both of them, and they 
will divide up their turf according to their own concerns.  Force 
monopolies don't overlap, generally.  But anyway, this is another one 
of those intellectual tinkertoys of freedom...


> Cultural and societal change have happened in the past.  I guess
> you've read of the feudal systems.  Well society's structure has
> changed.  If you lived in feudal systems, you'd be one of the serfs
> happy with his lot tithing to the lord of the manor, and to the fat
> church, and being left with barely enough to eat.

Yep. Probably.  Everybody was.  That didn't change through serf 
revolts, to my knowledge -- it changed through growth of a merchant 

> See anything wrong with making a currently relatively free government
> into an even less restrictive government?

Nope.  It's something I work on, believe it or not.

> Tell me, are the following insane ideas:
> 	- privatisation
> 	- deregulation
> 	- devolution of government power to smaller power bases
> 	- lower taxes
> 	- fewer politicians
> 	- reduced social security system 
> 	- cancel the war on drugs

No.  Obviously not, as I favor all of them :-)  You said, however, 
"any government at all."


> [I took the perl rsa usage to a new post]

OK.  I now have "RSA, the song" as a midi file, which I will post in 
the next day or two...

Kent Crispin				"No reason to get excited",
kent at			the thief he kindly spoke...
PGP fingerprint:   B1 8B 72 ED 55 21 5E 44  61 F4 58 0F 72 10 65 55

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