An a priori proof that Hoppe is a silly ninny

I recall reading Hans-Hermann Hoppe's a priori "proof" that all government services must get worse over time. Even when I was a libertarian, I found his argument to be ridiculous.

For instance, sitting in my apartment, in Brooklyn, at seven in the evening, I just renewed my Pennsylvania driver's license in about 30 seconds. Twenty years ago this would have involved a trip to the DMV two hours away, during their business hours, and then a 20 minute wait in a line. You may feel the government should not be in the business of licensing drivers: fine, but that is a completely separate point. The fact of the matter is that the process of interacting with the government on matters like this has vastly improved over the last couple of decades. Another example: I can now walk out to catch a New York City bus and see, on my phone, exactly where the bus is at that very moment.


  1. Those "a priori" arguments put forth by Austrians are some of the worst I've ever seen. What's to stop me from swapping out "government" with "owner of very large parcel of land" or "contract enforcement" with "violence"? Their minds are simply in another world.

  2. Can you link us to the argument Gene? I'm not sure which one you mean. But it's odd because if your interpretation is correct, it's not just that he made a falsifiable prediction that was wrong, but he also didn't notice that, say, the Soviet navy in 1975 was superior to the Soviet navy in 1945. Is that really what he thought when he wrote his essay?

    1. No.

      Sorry, I am sure I read this. However, I started looking at some Hoppe pieces online to find this, and I can't do it. In the very first one, he wrote "Austrians believe..." and then proceeded to set out beliefs that would disqualify Menger, Mises, and Hayek as "Austrians"!

      I can't wade in those sewers.

    2. But I think Hoppe could handle your case. Government *services to the citizenry* get worse, so that mail delivery is worse and worse. But the navy is part of how the government extracts revenues, so that might indeed improve.

    3. "I can't wade in those sewers."

      He is that bad, huh?

  3. The strange thing is the one could be libertarian without thinking that every government service must be of bad quality.

    It is two different issues f.e. whether Social Security is on the net a useful service for the population and whether Social Security offices work efficiently.

  4. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Pennsylvania is not a "Real ID" state. For states that enforce compliance with Real ID, it is much more difficult than it used to be to renew driver licenses and ID cards. One of the reasons that voter id laws are so much in dispute is because for those who do not drive or keep up the cumbersome documentation requirements(read: senior citizens), it is quite difficult to get an id card. So much so that some Real ID states are having to create special programs just for voter identification(id for voting and nothing else).

    Callhan's argument here is an example of an anecdotal fallacy.

    1. No rulingclass, you apparently do not understand logic: Hoppe made a blanket statement: government services ALWAYS get worse. A single "anecdote" is sufficient to refute that. ("All swans are white" is refuted by a single black swan.) The anecdotal fallacy refers to the use of an anecdote to claim that something is common: but neither Hoppe's claim nor my counter have anything to do with probability!

    2. Anonymous10:29 PM


      No, i understand logic well enough. The problem is that you also used your little anecdote as segue to your own blanket statement.

      "the fact of the matter is that the process of interacting with the government on matters like this has vastly improved over the last couple of decades."

      The conclusion of your argument is a textbook example of the anecdotal fallacy. Your anecdotal counter to the claim that government services always get worse over time does not lead to a conclusion that government services(the ones cited) get vastly better over time. To use your swan analogy, a single black swan indeed demonstrates that all swans are not white...but it does not demonstrate all swans are black.

      You get an "F", professor.

    3. OK, rulingclass, you are being a jerk, and will be banned next time you mindlessly continue in this vein: "does not lead to a conclusion that government services(the ones cited) get vastly better over time."

      I didn't conclude that in the first place... I concluded that SOME government services HAPPEN to have gotten vastly better over time. There is no conclusion remotely like "All swans are black." And I didn't conclude that FROM A SINGLE ANECDOTE. I concluded that from interacting with lots of government services that happen to have gotten vastly better over time: licensing, road tolls, buses, subways, etc.

    4. In fact, rulingclass, I was sure that you were misunderstanding my claim against Hoppe, because it never occurred to me that anyone could read this post so stupidly as to think I was making a universal claim of my own!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Fiat Currency

Central Planning Works!