Monday, August 25, 2008

Gov't Screwup Again Cited as Proof of Need for Gov't

In an intentionally provocative post, I called for the legalization of homicide, meaning that the government should stop using its armed agents (paid for with stolen tax dollars) to harass people it classifies as "murderers." (Read the post if you want to see my reasons.)

In the comments, someone calling himself "oj" said:


This is an excellent proposal!

I assume it will apply retroactively?

That's funny--it made me chuckle--but does everyone see that it proves my point? This is so typical when a libertarian calls for something to be privatized. People point to outrageous things that happen under State monopoly, as evidence of why the State needs the monopoly.

For example, Paulina Borsook ridiculed the idea of abolishing food safety inspectors, and her argument was that people in fast food restaurants had gotten sick the month before she wrote her op ed. See? The government needs to protect us from bad food, because people got sick under the government's protection.

Of course, just because bad outcomes occur in a certain system, doesn't prove the system is bad: People will get sick, and some murderers will fail to be caught, in any human organization. My point in this blog post is to stress that the failures of a system shouldn't be taken as evidence in its favor. Obvious point, but one that people violate all the time.

One last example: Whenever a plane crashes, or whenever journalists uncover rampant safety violations by airlines, the public flips out over the "unregulated" private sector and calls for a bigger FAA budget. Huh?! Suppose for the sake of argument that the government shouldn't be regulating air travel; now what would that world look like? Wouldn't there be plane crashes, lax inspections, etc.?


  1. Barack8:38 AM


    Don't lie. Hillary put you up to this, right?

    You mick racist!

  2. My point, and I think everyone elses, was that the fact that law enforcement should be privatized *does not* mean that existing enforcers should flake on their jobs. For example, a government safety inspector should not just one day decide to "overlook" safety problems.

    So I don't think "oj" was saying: "look how the government botched my case" (and of course oj not going to a government jail counts as botching, right?); he was saying, so, before any other private mechanism exists, you want to stop all enforcement?

  3. English Bob10:23 AM

    Reminds me of an article Gene wrote a while back. He mentioned a common defence of WWII: "What about the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis?"

  4. Silas,

    I grant you that it is tricky if everyone thinks the government is doing something, and then one guy decides to go fishing instead.

    But I still say that if we initially were in a situation where there were no government punishment of murderers, then I would oppose the introduction of this new "responsibility" of gov't.

    Just like right now we don't have gov't setting carbon emission caps, and so I oppose the growth of the federal government in this arena.

    I understand why you are disagreeing with me; I don't understand why you are acting like I'm insane.

  5. Yes good point English Bob (and Gene).

  6. Bob: How about the "Why Silas thinks you're evil for saying Bengals don't count" project? Any progress there?

  7. Yeah I had a long post but Gene deleted it.

  8. I think the point is that in the current situation an industrial food processor or airline has both the threat of fines and disruption of their business as well as public distrust of their product when tainted meat goes through the production line or a plane goes down. This double threat is apparently not enough to have these sort of mishaps not happen. So when you relieve government threat, the chances of either mishap increases by whatever percentage government threat decreased this possibility

  9. OJ is an interesting and excellent example of the failure of monopoly law. It was the (relatively more) private civil law, not criminal law, that ended up bringing OJ to some semblance of justice.

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