Thursday, May 31, 2012

Government apologists: Short memories?

It amazes me that so few people seem to realize that all the things government "provides" now, were not always "provided" by government.

For example, someone responded to a comment I made by saying:

Who would coordinate the building of roads, making sure that water and food is safe, criminals are brought to justice, all children have a chance to be educated, forest fires are put out, national parks are preserved for the use of everybody, etc.?

Seriously? Why would government have to have anything to do with any of those things? It's like he tried to make sure every cliche was included in that one sentence. Which makes me wonder if he didn't already know the answers; just wanted to see how I would respond.

And here is how I responded:

Roads weren't always built by the government- and still aren't always built by governments now. In fact there is a recent case out of Hawaii where the local residents rebuilt a road that had been destroyed after government kept dragging its feet.

For those who complain that they don't want to have to pay a toll to drive- I hate to tell them but they already do. And that toll comes with no guarantees about the quality of service. The private sector- the voluntary sector- can provide roads cheaper, better, and safer. Without demanding you give up your liberty in exchange for driving on them.

Underwriter's Laboratories is a good example of a private quality assurance certification process. One that is paid for by its customers, and not forcibly financed by those who have no desire to finance it. Most private standards for safety are much higher than government standards even now. If your hamburger is only up to government standards, you had better consider eating something else.

A company won't last long (without government protection) if it poisons its customers.

I have lived places several times where I had my water tested by local labs to make sure it was safe. Why believe that "only government" can do it, that government does it "best", or that government would do it cheaper?

The justice system only accidentally provides justice. And not even that very often. There is no "justice" in locking up people who have been caught smoking marijuana. Or doing anything else that doesn't have an individual victim that you can point to. Even murder is not "fixed" by the courts or prisons. Real justice means you return a victim to the condition they were in before their life, liberty, or property were damaged. Where justice falls short, restitution is required to balance out the equation. Prison does none of this.

The really sad delusion is that a "crime" harms The State. Sorry, but The State is never a victim.

Before government took over education, America was an incredibly literate nation. Foreign visitors remarked on that fact. It has taken about a century and a half of government "schooling" to destroy much of that literacy. Now graduates barely read. They are ignorant enough of history that they can fall for the lie that the Supreme Court is the last word on "Constitutionality" and that having "dollars" backed by nothing but a government promise (and printed/created by the trillions) is good for the economy. Oh, and that "shall not be infringed" doesn't mean what it says. Education is MUCH too important to allow government within a light-year of it.

Fire fighting- whether of a town or of a forest- is in the best interests of everyone around. In a free society it could be accomplished through something like "fire insurance", but where if your property is damaged by fire anyway, the fire company is liable for the damage. Wildfires would be fought by any local fire companies that would prefer to nip it in the bud rather than wait until their customers were at risk- and their profits were at risk, too. I suspect that there would be fire crews for hire that could be brought in at a moments notice by the "insurance company. There will always be adrenaline junkies looking to do the heroic-type jobs. For pay. Pay that is collected voluntarily without the threat of "fines" or prison.

Property that is privately owned is cared for better than property that has no individual person responsible. "The Tragedy of the Commons" is real, and can be seen locally wherever "communal" property exists. If I owned a former national park, it would be in my best interests to keep it nice and clean. Both for my own enjoyment, and so that I could attract paying visitors. Government is the worst polluter the world has ever seen- how can such a thing "protect" or "preserve" anything natural? Whenever I go camping I spend a lot of leisure time picking up trash- much of it very old and weathered- that no one has seen fit to pick up as "part of their job". If I owned the place I would hire employees who would do their job or get fired. (Assuming the absence of government which prevents this proper response, anyway.)

Anything you can point to that government does can be done voluntarily instead. Everything good, anyway. And, if something is really a good thing, someone will find a way to provide it. For a profit. If you think that will cost more than it does now, consider that in a free society you will only be paying for those things you actually want, need, or use. Those things that aren't wanted, needed, or used will go away.

And, remember, the above ideas aren't necessarily the way it "will" be done; just possible ways it could be done. People will probably find solutions for some things that could have never been discovered until liberty was respected again.



  1. Kent, I recently did my own small contribution to explaining the voluntary society, and I was unsurprised that the first comment justified govt solely with "but we have to have it or people will abuse power."

    If govt control of roads is justified because roads are "so important", why doesn't govt control religion? Isn't your eternal soul even more important than potholes?

  2. 75% of the fire dep'ts in this country are volunteer.

  3. Yet 98.2%* of statists mention fire fighting as an essential government service that they are willing to kill you for.

    *Maybe I made that number up.