Mental Blocks

It's interesting how we refuse to face unpleasant truths. I've recently been reminded of this by Micha's article about a panel David Friedman was on at a FreedomFest, where he said (arguing that minarchism will not work):

...the fundamental mistake in the view of the people who believe you can have a long-term, stable, rights-respecting government, is that they think the evidence is all a mistake — that there is no consistent reason why governments behave the way they do, it just happens because sometimes they have the wrong constitution and sometimes the wrong philosophy. But government behavior is not an accident. If you give people a monopoly over the use of force, like any other sensible people, they will use it in a way that best achieves their ends, and that will very rarely involve protecting individual rights.

I've been making very similar arguments for a year or so now, which I came up with independently, attacking the conventional libertarian view as being naive. The shitty truth is that there is a vast mountain of empirical evidence from all of human history showing that government growth is ubiquitous. Bureaucracy ratchets. It's sad but true. But I don't want to get into an argument about this, and this realization is not the interesting thing.

The fascinating aspect to this is that while I now think that the conventional libertarian view (that you could have a long-term stable libertarian government on land) is utterly foolish, and there is a vast wealth of data against it, I was completely unable to realize this *until* I came up with a way around it! I had some kind of mental block. So until I found an alternate solution that didn't suffer from the same problem, and could then identify with *my* solution instead of the naive libertarian one, I was utterly blind to the glaring problems with it. I believed what I wanted to believe.

I find this fascinating, in a sick "I hate human psychology and I wish we were rational computer programs" sort of way. And of course, the obvious extension is to wonder which of my currently cherished ideas hold similar flaws, which are hiding in my blind spot?

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To anybody who is willing to

To anybody who is willing to answer this.
Think about this one carefully, its more loaded then it looks.
Realisticaly, what is the difference between a government and a company on the free market? Both maintain a monopoly of power over a specific area and in both cases if you are disatisfied you can freely leave and maintain relations with a competitor. Sure it could be said that government maintains force over a physical area in which ones property is loacted, but how is that different from a large property developer? In both cases one has to physically leave if they dont like the rules. And in both cases contracts dont necasserily have to be by direct consent.

Jake, I agree. There isn't

Jake, I agree. There isn't much difference, other than perhaps efficiency in terms of scale and the legitimacy of initial acquisition. (Then again, depending on who you ask, one or both of those two things are tremendously important.

We've discussed this issue on the blog before.

I would have no problem with

I would have no problem with a government that only had the powers of a property owner. They could only collect rent, and that rent would be negotiated up front and would not be based on my income level. If I did something they didn't like, the worst they could do is evict me and keep my deposit, maybe suing me if I did some major damage to their property. None of their rules would affect anything that wasn't likely to damage the property or reduce its value or cause liability for the owner, nor would they govern anything I did while not on the property.

Furthermore, said government would be governed by the same accounting standards as any other business on the free market; if they cooked the books (say, used cash accounting instead of accrual accounting) and this became known, money would no longer be so readily available to them in the form of loans and investment. Their bonds, notes, etc., would become worthless rather quickly.

I like this government idea of yours, Jake. Maybe you should run for President.

Jake - good question, and

Jake - good question, and I've responded with a blog post

I suppose the sticking point

I suppose the sticking point is that when states have collapsed, the result has often been less liberty than before. The death of the state in Cambodia may have been met with jubilation by Uncle Murray, but that state was replaced by perhaps the worst tyranny ever.

Re: Rational Computers If we

Re: Rational Computers

If we really were all rational computers, then total socialism would be a perfectly acceptable form of government. It's because we are irrational individuals that liberty is so important.

Althought the floating

Althought the floating cities interest me (crosscorrelations with island microstates and flags of convenience), it is worth looking at when the
interest of a citizen and the interest of a state might coincide.
in a system that allows the rich to vote with their feet, where to the rich go? more often switzerland than albania. i'm from delaware once, where corporations used to vote with their 'feet', for low taxes and useful securities laws. now nevada and wyoming offer some competition for that niche. over time, people are less willing to support governments that don't respect their rights; those governments are less stable long term.
over space, people with skills or capital will prefer to migrate to low-tax, low-regulation regimes, especially if crime and invasion risks are low. sure, states will do what they can get away with, and the appearance of human rights may be more important, maketing-wise, than the reality. but i'm suggesting there's some motive for states to treat citizens well, at least prospective citizens. stronger barriers to exit, like a berlin wall or chip-laden passports, reduce that incentive.