A Consequential Argument against the War

One way to think of the governments of the world is as a political market. Each government has its own laws, regulations, and tax policies, analagous to a vendor selling goods in a bazaar, alongside other such vendors. There is no supra-national higher authority to regulate these governments. The United States has been historically an attractive government to live under, and thus, people have often chosen this government from the world political market, resulting in an nation of immigrants.

There is a significant price to be paid for making these choices on the political market. Moves from living under one government to another are costly, in more ways than one. The trip to the new jurisdiction has to be paid for. Belongings have to be packed up and transported over land and sea. Old jobs have to be severed, and new ones found. The red tape of paperwork has to be cut through. New languages have to be learned. Family has to be left behind. A new culture has to be acclimated to. Sometimes, the punishment for unsuccessfully trying to change governments is imprisonment or death. Difficult choices have to be made.

If it was somehow possible to reduce these costs and make exiting one government for another relatively easy, then governments would have to compete over their citizens. The result would be jurisdictional regulatory arbitrage-- a net positive for liberty. This political market for laws is the next best alternative to a truly free market for laws.

The original design of the United States tried to take advantage of such a political market by having relatively independent states with a strictly limited Federal Government. Federalism is attractive because it allows the individual states to compete over Americans' patronage. Instead, with the powerful Federal government we have today, there are fewer choices for everyone. The political market within the United States has been greatly harmed since 1787.

Natalie Solent, like myself, opposes the EU, UN, WTO, IMF, and World Bank for a similar reason-- these supranational entities blur the distinctive features of different systems of government that used to exist, say between communist countries and liberal democracies. Gradual rot and a slide into decadence result from the lack of contrasting examples.

This argument can be further extended to the War in Iraq. There were many arguments against the War, many of them I found unattractive, with the most egregious ones being those that appealed to "non-aggression" (as if Iraqis citizens weren't already being 'aggressed' against) and those that appealed to 'International Law'. A better case against the War can be made for purely consequential reasons.

When the US government takes part in dictating to other countries how to manage their affairs, it hampers the worldwide political market. When it pushes around those nations that do not meet its standards, fewer choices are available to everyone. With the wonders of technology, the political market has been growing in many ways. Tax shelters, offshore banking, and the like, which were once only available to the "Jet Set" are today available to the upper-middle class, and are becoming cheaper everyday. If other nations are ever to act as tax havens, blacknets, and issuers of anonymous digital currency, they have to be free of the threat of violent consequences from the US government. To me, that is the best argument against the War in Iraq.

When the US government engages in a worldwide War on Terror, it plays the same role as the EU, UN, WTO, IMF, and World Bank: a predatory, harmonizing, choice-limiting, political-market monopolist.

[cross-posted at The Agitator]

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What this argument seems to

What this argument seems to leave out are the factors of involuntary death and bodily harm, and clearly visible patterns of who is inflicting these on whom. I don't think the US government going after terror-sponsoring nations on purely aesthetic or competitive grounds - a large number of its customers are demanding it, because they don't having been (and possibly being again) subjected to terrorism. We tried more conventional deal-making in the last few decades of the 20th century, but the customers and proprietors were unsatisfied with the results and are now demanding more aggressive negotiating tactics, since they place a very high value on the prevention of terrorism.

Beyond that, I disagree that the United States truly has the ability to be a "monopolist" without the support of a large portion of the rest of the world, and I don't think it's really being a monopolist here - besides the handful of belligerent terror-sponsoring countries, most of the rest of the world is either helping, cheering us on or making craven pro-forma objections without putting much behind them. Besides, I think most of the world would love to buy at least some of what the US is selling on the political market, if their own national leaders didn't ad prohibitive costs of their own - or am I hopelessly mangling the analogy here?

Taking your argument at face

Taking your argument at face value, it still doesn't seem top stand up - the repressive governments will never allow the free market in political systems to exist. I don't think we can include countries like Iraq under Saddam, Cambodia under Pol Pot, Paraguay under Stroessner or Greece under the Colonels as offering choices which mean anything in your market analogy.

"There were many arguments

"There were many arguments against the War, many of them I found unattractive, with the most egregious ones being those that appealed to ?non-aggression? (as if Iraqis citizens weren?t already being ?aggressed? against)"

So once Saddam is aggressing against the Iraqi people, then it's OK for the American government to do it to... Hey, I get it! So if you see someone being mugged on the street, feel free to join in.

So once Saddam is aggressing

So once Saddam is aggressing against the Iraqi people, then it?s OK for the American government to do it to? Hey, I get it! So if you see someone being mugged on the street, feel free to join in.

No. If you see someone being mugged on the street, helping them thwart off the mugger is moral. Even if the goal of the US was simply to take down the mugger, and not to help those being mugged, if the end result is that those being mugged are no longer being mugged (at least not as badly), my view of the outcome is positive.

Taking your argument at face

Taking your argument at face value, it still doesn?t seem top stand up - the repressive governments will never allow the free market in political systems to exist. I don?t think we can include countries like Iraq under Saddam, Cambodia under Pol Pot, Paraguay under Stroessner or Greece under the Colonels as offering choices which mean anything in your market analogy.

The market I am talking about is being able to choose among countries, not within countries. I recognize that there will nations of dictators and tyrants, but this is precisely the reason there need to be choices of other countries to escape to, even if the costs of those choices are high. If instead, there is a supra-national govt in place, those dictators like Saddam and Pol Pot will eventually end up leading those supra-national govts, and that will be a worse situation for all.

The ten million citizens of

The ten million citizens of Cuba are lined up on the beaches -- and, as soon as Fidel will stop shooting them as they try to leave, they're ready to vote with their feet.

Y'know, leaving Iraq a couple years ago wasn't quite like gettin on a bus in Appalachia and heading for LA.

And while the Iraqis may not like us occupying them -- precious few are upset that we liberated them.

The ten million citizens of

The ten million citizens of Cuba are lined up on the beaches ? and, as soon as Fidel will stop shooting them as they try to leave, they?re ready to vote with their feet.

Y?know, leaving Iraq a couple years ago wasn?t quite like gettin on a bus in Appalachia and heading for LA.

Yes, I acknowledged that in my post when I wrote in the post that "Sometimes, the punishment for unsuccessfully trying to change governments is imprisonment or death. Difficult choices have to be made."

The point was not that everyone in the world can easily move to any country he wishes to, but that this is an imperfect market, and the US govt having even greater supra-national power will make it even more imperfect.

Interesting ... how do

Interesting ... how do markets arise ... how are they regulated ... how do they interact?

This line of reasoning is interesting but does not address the critical question that economists struggle with ... how do makrets arise and change.

I would posit that a "Gales of Creative Destruction" argument would suggest that the nations and the peoples of their respective nations act in an entreprenuerial fashion. That is, they overthrow regimes in attempts to unlock greater prosperity.

With this logic the US is acting as the entrepreneur in an attempt to create greater prosperity. The US saw the entrepreneuial opportunity that others could not and are now creating future value for humanity.

With this reasoning one could be led to fully support the entreprniealr initaitive undertaken by Bush (his MBA from Harvard is paying off after all).

In summary, by the incorporating a change mechanism we are not left with a static model that supports the status quo.