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Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:41 AM

The argument for and against government

Was listening to a podcast with a libertarian stating his case. Ugh. Personally, I can find some common ground with the small-L libs. The big-L libs I find to be very religious in their thinking and dealing with spherical cows rather than reality.

On spherical cows:

Milk production at a dairy farm was low, so the farmer wrote to the local university, asking for help from academia. A multidisciplinary team of professors was assembled, headed by a theoretical physicist, and two weeks of intensive on-site investigation took place. The scholars then returned to the university, notebooks crammed with data, where the task of writing the report was left to the team leader. Shortly thereafter the physicist returned to the farm, saying to the farmer "I have the solution, but it only works in the case of spherical cows in a vacuum.

The point of the joke is that physicists will often reduce a problem to the simplest form they can imagine in order to make calculations more feasible, even though such simplification may hinder the model's application to reality.


In this particular case, the interviewee is saying government has a monopoly on violence. That's not nice. How do you enforce rules without an authority?

eBay is brought up. Buyers and sellers have ratings. You get a low rating, nobody does business with you. Nobody comes in with guns to enforce the law.

Ok, so isn't ebay a private company owned by a central power that can exercise arbitrary authority? There aren't guns! Ugh. You simpleton. It isn't a co-op and management represents the final authority.

If it was an anarcho-libertarian model then it would be peer to peer, not client-server. If you want a comparison, napster vs BitTorrent. You could take down napster because it had an hq. BitTorrent has no master. The only weak point is needing centralized trackers to point you to the swarm and they're already working around that.

My view on government is like my view on a personal vehicle. "This guy drives an F150. It's too large." Possibly. What does he do with it? Oh, he hauls trailers every day. It's the right size. "This other guy drives a Titan that's just as big." What does he do with it? Oh, he commutes alone to an office job and does nothing with it on the weekend that would require the towing capacity. Yeah, it's too large.

Government is a tool, not an end unto itself. The right-sized tool for the job is what's required, nothing more or less.

In the same conversation the river that caught on fire is brought up and the libertarian said that common law already addressed that very issue with no need for government. He cited apple orchard owners whose trees were harmed by the soot from early factories. They sued and won in court. Uh, who provided the courts? Who enforced the rulings? And he then said the factory owners used their financial power to get the laws changed. So in other words, government was working as it should before it was coopted by businesses. And you're saying that by removing all government you'll have a better negotiating position to keep corporations from fucking your ass raw? Are you serious? He then came around to saying that government failed in the first place because it didn't keep the river from catching fire. Well, that's the way of things. Government is reactive, no proactive. Very rarely does government stop a problem before it happens, usually only after it becomes too big to ignore, and usually because, wait for it, VESTED AND SPECIAL INTERESTS PREVENTED GOVERNMENT FROM DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT WHEN IT WASN'T A BIG PROBLEM! You simpleton.

Whenever libertarians start talking about government being the problem and not a solution, whenever they talk about how things would work in their ideal anarcho-economy, I get the feeling we're talking about spherical cows again. Pure communism didn't work either for a similar reason: it based expectations on the behavior of ideal, rational humans, not the ones you encounter in the real world.

Anyone else have thoughts about this?

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Reply The argument for and against government (Original post)
jollyreaper2112 Feb 2013 OP
jollyreaper2112 Feb 2013 #1

Response to jollyreaper2112 (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 10:46 AM

1. self-bump with a question

Anyone else regularly engage with libertarians? Threads get buried awfully quick here.

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