Do we need a government?
Debate Rounds (5)
Round 1: acceptance.
Rounds 2-4 : arguments and rebuttals.
Round 5: final thoughts, closing statements.
What, fundamentally, is government? In my view, government is a group of people with a geographical monopoly of force. Now this comes in different forms. In some cases, there is one un elected supreme ruler, and if the public doesn't like him, too bad, he's here to stay. In other systems, the people, every four or so years get to chose another leader. But these two things are more similar than they are different, two sides of the same tyrannical coin. There still exists a ruling class, one that can tax at will, and can make themselves the sole provider of certain services, be they roads, police, law courts, healthcare in certain areas etc. Nobody else can do that. I can't say to you " hey, we're gonna build a road, pay up!" and point a gun at you and threaten you with violence. But when instead of me pointing the gun it's the IRS, and it's every April, that somehow is seen as good. Morality doesn't simply go out the window when it's on a larger scale, and you call it taxes, and the social contract, and government etc. If this still isn't clear, then just replace the word government with cartel.
But there are legitimate questions. How would roads be provided? How would disputes be resolved? How would healthcare be provided ( my country, Canada, has socialized medicine so this is a more brought up question)? Wouldn't it all just dissolve into pure chaos? Well, the honest and most important answer is that i have no idea. I don't know how services will be provided 50 years from now, 100 years from now. Anybody that claims to know is either lying or has massive delusions of grandeur. Nobody knows. However, there are some ideas of how it could be. I recommend checking out David Friedman's book "the machinery of freedom" for a more detailed perspective (links below). I will now address the two most common problems brought up when talking about a stateless society: Roads/transportation and police/law enforcement. Firstly, I will address the issue of roads. Although it is one of the most common arguments brought up by statists, roads are actually very simple. Is it not rather silly to suggest that the same species that went to the moon, discovered the Higgs Boson and harnessed electricity can't figure out how to build roads without pointing guns? I don't think government invented asphalt. But regardless: how could roads be built in a stateless society?
Well firstly, think about who has incentive to build roads. One obvious example is car companies. Cars wouldn't be much good without roads to drive them on. So, car companies could either be directly involved in the building of roads, or could hire specific road building and maintaining companies to construct them, and this could be payed for through car payments and other forms of payment. Another group with an incentive to build roads are store's, businesses etc. Thus, they could pay for the construction of roads. Roads could also be payed for through tolls, or communities could simply get together and build them. Also, there would likely be more taxis, trains, buses and whatnot. And in a few years, we'll have carrier drones, which I look forward to. Another interesting thing is that in 2013 alone, over 32000 people died in the United States alone on government roads. Forget gun violence, this is a massacre! Imagine if Kraft or Google killed anywhere near that amount of people. We would yell for their heads on sticks for God sake. But this shocking fact is just taken for granted, like the road lines themselves. So in a free society, I think that there would be a rather large incentive to not kill your customers, and therefore reduce road deaths.
Now, the other common objection is the issue of police/law enforcement. Now in the system which I am imagining is a system where the job of protection and rights enforcement is delegated various firms and arbitration agencies. Like insurance, customers would pay a yearly/monthly/whateverly bill to their company. Now, an obvious problem arises, which is what happens if one day I find that my computer has been stolen. I look at my surveillance camera, and it appears that someone who looks exactly like Hugh Jackman has stole my computer. I call my security agency, and they call Hugh to tell him to give my computer back. He says he didn't steal it. My company says that if he doesn't return it, they'll send over big strong guys to retrieve my computer. But Hugh has a security agency as well. What happens? Do the organizations Go to war? The fact is, economically speaking that is a horrendous idea. So, the companies have every reason to resolve this peacefully. They could decide on an arbitration agency,which has a reputation for being fair which will review the case and give a decision. An advantage of this system is that companies will actually have to provide a good service in order to get customers.
This is in contrast to the government, which has an incentive for government to do the bare minimum. For example, the government is in charge of police and the justice system. And to an extent, it works. The police capture and put in prison some bad people. Murderer's, rapists, etc. But they also incarcerate a large number of non-violent offenders, there is a huge bureaucracy, many violent people get off early on plea bargains, they often go to the wrong house during raids, then there's the drug war, a lot of corruption, and these godawful trials that take years, often longer than the sentence itself. In other words, it's far from the ideal system.
But because they're funded through taxes, they can keep doing the bare minimum. In a free market, the companies that figure out the best way to deal with crime, and more importantly prevent crime will likely be the most successful.
I look forward to your arguments.
You propose essentially a corporate system of control, in which companies would twist the basic civil rights of citizens to maximize their own personal gain and benefit. In addition, monopolies would be unavoidable, given the size and range of control that some corporations are able to exert today. Examples such as Google or Amazon would totally wipe out competition and dominate their respective industries, thus putting the economy at the hands of a few people, which essentially is no different than an oligarchy. It would be an OPEC system on a much grander scale.
Government is most definitely necessary. I hope to see your arguments soon.
It seems to me that all you're doing is making a self refuting argument. On the one hand, you say that we need a strong central power to ensure the optimization of resources. You say, in essence and correct me if i'm mistaken, that this is because people are self interested, and don't think on a grand scale or whatever. But if this is the case, then electing people to an extraordinary position of power, giving them sole control (or at least monopoly control) over the means of production, the ability to invade other countries, control over rule of law and the means of enforcing what they decree to be the rule of law should be the LAST thing on your mind. Who are these superhero-esque individuals that you talk about? I haven't met them. Your proposition is entirely self contradictory. Great societies are not achieved by governments, but by individuals pursuing their own lives. Steve Jobs revolutionized the technology industry, but he didn't invent the iPhone because he loved us, because he cared about you and me. He made the iPhone to make money, and to put his vision out into the world.
That's how the steam engine, the light bulb, the automobile, computers were created. Through voluntary individual acts. Not central planning. That was the difference between east and west Berlin, and what currently is the difference between North and south Korea.
You then talk about how as a result of lower tax rates, the united states has amassed a debt upwards of 18 trillion dollars. While this figure is correct,( although it would be much higher if social security, medicare and medicaid were included), the reason is not to do with the lack of tax revenue, it's because of excessive spending, whether it's the Iraq/Afghanistan wars or whatever . If we taxed the rich 100%, it would pay the government for only a few days. And in terms of education, federal spending has increased since the 1970s, but math, literacy, and science grades have either remained flat of have decreased. In terms of healthcare, I live in Canada, a country with socialized medicine. And believe me, it's not all it's cracked up to be. That's not to say that everybody is dying in the street due to lack of access to medical care, but it's not exactly a shining beacon of wonderfulness either. For example, in my town, the hospital resembles that of a third world country. To say they are understaffed is an understatement. To say they are ill equipped is outstandingly understated. The sanitation is absolutely atrocious. Half the time, rather than cleaning the bed sheets they simply turn them over. We literally have better medical care for animals than people. My grandmother needed spinal surgery, and the she waited for over 5 years for it to be done. The premier of my province flew to Florida to get heart surgery, a mere few months after denouncing prime minister Stephen Harper for wanting to privatize parts of the Canadian healthcare system. Now I know, I know that these are simply anecdotal stories, but I figured why not point them out. I'll address the issue in more broad terms later. So how do you make healthcare more affordable? Eliminate all licensing requirements, Eliminate all government restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products and medical devices, Deregulate the health-insurance industry, and Eliminate all subsidies to the sick or unhealthy.
"...how would we be able to live without a force guiding and directing your efforts?" because i'm a grown up ( well not technically) and I don't want or need people to tell me how to live my life, what colour shirt to wear, how much to spend on healthcare, should I or should I not take a bath with a rubber ducky. Because I own my life, and the product of my labor. If you want people to run your life for you, then be my guest. Just keep me out of it. What gives certain people the right to dictate to others how they live their lives? Association between me and you is voluntary, I did not force you to accept this debate, you accepted of your own accord and I thank you for it. But the state is not voluntary. The state compels you to pay it tribute, and if you refuse men in blue costumes will bust down your door and lock you in a cage, simply for not complying with having your property stolen. I can't force you to pay me anything, whether it's to start a gang war or build a road, or a hospital or whatever. But the state on the other hand has that power.
"monopolies would be unavoidable, given the size and range of control that some corporations are able to exert today."
Government IS a monopoly. The biggest, most coercive and destructive monopoly in history. How does it make any sense to use such a massive monopoly to fight monopolies. Why are google, amazon, and apple so successful? Or why is any company successful, be it Mcdonalds, Microsoft, Ford, bobs barbecue bakeshop buffet? It's because they produce a good or service which people want/need, and people can either chose to trade their dollars for the good/service, or to not to. Mcdonalds forces nobody to eat at their establishment, people choose to eat there. You are free to not eat at mcdonalds. You can buy from the grocery store or whole foods, you can go to another restaurant, you can grow your own food. Mcdonalds isn't going around pointing guns at people telling them to buy a double quarter pounder with cheese. You know who IS pointing guns though? The government. In a free society, nobody will be forced to go to mcdonalds, or Google, or amazon. If people don't like them, they can take their business elsewhere.
"You propose essentially a corporate system of control, in which companies would twist the basic civil rights of citizens to maximize their own personal gain and benefit."
Incorrect. What I am proposing is two things essentially.
1. We own ourselves, and the product of our labor. And because of this, nobody may initiate force against us, nor we against them. Interaction must be on a voluntary basis. As a result of this, the state is an illegitimate institution for the same reason that the mafia is.
2. The market is better than the government in a pragmatic sense at providing the services currently supplied by government (i.e courts, law enforcement, the law itself.)
Now what do I mean by the market? What I mean when I say the market is the voluntary interactions and exchanges among individuals. That's it. So because this is arguably the most common argument I engage in with statists, I/m going to talk about the issue of private security/arbitration.
The reason I think that private security and law enforcement would be better than government is that because government has complete control of this industry and can tax to get it's funding, so it has no market incentive to provide a good service to citizens. Whereas if you had competing firms, they would have to do a good job and satisfy their customers in order to convince people to associate with them. They would actually have to figure out what the best way to resolve disputes is, how to deal with dangerous criminals, what constitutes a crime and whatnot. They have actual reason to innovate and improve, whereas the government has no such incentive.
I really am enjoying this so far. Next round, being that it's the last round of actual real exchange, i'd kind of like to get more into the meat of the issue. The environment, police, law enforcement, the law itself, roads, the military. All big issues. I'd kind of like to get into the specifics of those and how I think they could work. However, since you were kind enough to accept my debate challenge, i'll let you direct the conversation.
Looking for more, peace out.
ok, that was lame. Note to self: NEVER say peace out again.
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