This is an old issue but I find that the questions are good and while others have done good rebuttals here and here more can be said.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, October 27, 2011
What would be your best response to these questions and statements:
- Is government the antithesis of liberty?
A. It depends on definitions. Today all governments can coerce taxes and conscription from its population; This dominant kind of government is an antithesis to liberty. An entity that ensures just laws and protects the population from another law code that may invade and force obedience, is compatible with liberty. However that can be done privately by businesses and charities of various forms without tax funding. Even IRA and Al Qaeda have waged war without tax funding.
- One of the things that enhances freedoms are roads.
Infrastructure enhances freedom. A social safety net enhances
A. When a new suburb or town is built the roads are built privately by the developer. Private toll ways and turnpikes pre date tax funded roads. The first railways were private and even the Roman roads were built by private contractors. With modern Assurance Contract systems, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, funding projects in the millions a new era of private roads may be beginning. The same goes for most other infrastructure and safety nets, charities.
- What should we do with the losers that are picked by the free
- Do we live in a society or don't we? Are we a collective?
Everybody's success is predicated on the hard work of all of us;
nobody gets there on their own. Why should it be that the people who
lose are hung out to dry? For a group that doesn't believe in
evolution, it's awfully Darwinian.
A. Yes the sum-total of past investments in public goods does help people. We are not a mindless collective but a cooperating culture. If the free market were allowed to build these public assets then the same hard work would still be evident and our bridges would not be falling down because government see fit to spend its money (our money) elsewhere.
Yes there are people who lose and are seemingly hung out to dry for awhile but the free-market allows them to work their way back up. They are not blocked, banned or ruled out of society. If they can not recover there are clearly deficiencies in their education that an entrepreneurial employer or a charity may work to fix. If they are unrepentant criminals both systems may write them off but then even there we see opportunities for both an entrepreneurial employer or a charity.
The majority of libertarians do believe in evolution, I don't, and the majority of creationists are not libertarians so there is an erroneous association being made. Many creationists are minarchist however.
- In a representative democracy, we are the government. We have
work to do, and we have a business to run, and we have children to
raise. We elect you as our representatives to look after our
interests within a democratic system.
A. Representative democracy does beat other earlier forms of oligarchy however just as science and technology progresses so must governance tools. Our representatives have bankrupted the governments of the world. They pander to the popular vote and that means an ever increasing debt, inflation and/or taxes as they pay back to their supporters and lobbyists. We have institutionalised the art of bribe giving and taking within our electoral systems. Its legal but not viable or able to go on.
Jesus said render unto Caesar that which is Caesar and render unto God's that which is God's. But Caesar's face is not on the coin today. The face on the coin changes when a government goes broke. A new change is coming. There are new ways emerging in the free market to delegate lawmaking and security that will free us up to do our work, run our businesses and actually raise our children instead of delegating that to a crowded classroom.
- Is government inherently evil?
- Sometimes to protect the greater liberty you have to do
things like form an army, or gather a group together to build a wall
A. The Minutemen of American history were unpaid volunteers. Governments and taxes rarely fund the revolutionaries; why should they be needed to fund the public goods of defence. As I have said the IRA, the 18th centuries communists and today militant islamists like Al Qaeda operate without either a government or tax support. They are charities.
Governments generally don't fund Civil Defence at all, preferring deterrents (aggressive revenge) and attempting to kill off the rival government. Civil Defence is often left to private charities and private citizens. Mainly because people don't want to be a dead winner they volunteer or fund it. However this often, in a time of great danger, shames government into funding some Civil Defence work. Because public service staff insist on being protected too, publicly funded shelters and other system are usually only found near concentrations of government workers. Everyone else is expendable.
The first levies in Holland were funded using an early form of Assurance Contract voluntarism.
- As soon as you've built an army, you've now said government
isn't always inherently evil because we need it to help us
sometimes, so now.. it's that old joke: Would you sleep with me for
a million dollars? How about a dollar? -Who do you think I am?- We
already decided who you are, now we're just negotiating.
- You say: government which governs least governments best. But
that were the Articles of Confederation. We tried that for 8 years,
it didn't work, and went to the Constitution.
A. It was not a libertarian society or state/ states. The Articles of Confederation were effective in limiting government but they had not figured out how to fund the war and some states were not willing to foot the bill because once the British were concentrating their attack elsewhere they were safe. With modern communications and modern warfare such isolationism within a confederation would be harder and new means of funding things now exist.
Stewart is also making the mistake common to Americans of confusing American history with the history of liberty. In other countries much smaller governments have been successful.
- You give money to the IRS because you think they're gonna
hire a bunch of people, that if your house catches on fire, will
come there with water.
A. Yes that's the theory but what happens if they spend the money on an abortion clinic, public art and million dollar public service pensions and leave the fire service unfunded? This today in a hundred ways is the problem. If the fire service were funded by a charity, community chest fund, trust fund or assurance contract you would still get your fire service in the absence of government and taxes. Many 18th century fire services were privately funded charities. Australia's rural fire service still is (it gets a few government donations occasionally). The point is you don't control where your tax dollar goes.
- Why is it that libertarians trust a corporation, in certain
matters, more than they trust representatives that are accountable
to voters? The idea that I would give up my liberty to an insurance
company, as opposed to my representative, seems insane.
A. Some libertarians don't! They point out that corporations are granted immunity to prosecution in a wide range of fields allowing the CEO and many boards to escape the legal and financial consequences of bad decisions. In the absence of government the heads of corporations would not be absented from common law claims on negligence, fraud and pollution. Industries would have to clean up their act.
A libertarian will also point out that because monopolies are impossible in a true free market, no barriers to entry or government favouritism, there is always the option to buy from someone else. Thus competition means that a corporation that is untrustworthy will quickly go broke as customers move to another competitor.
- Why is it that with competition, we have such
difficulty with our health care system? ..and there are
choices within the educational system.
A. The choice that matters is not just the suppler but whether you have medical insurance. You do not have the choice to support truancy and leave you child completely uneducated. The competition in education is the result of a hard fought battle for private and home schooling; a fight against governments and some times resulting in jail for parents and teachers. In the US medical insurance is often not portable across employers and state-lines; this is the product of government regulation not the product of the free market. In the freemarket there are no state lines. The government funded health care creates a moral hazard, many people choose to remain uninsured because the government system is there. CNN once interviewed people on health care: one girl insisted that she could not afford it yet she had thousands of dollars of tattoos.
The governments have created a shortage of medical services via restrictive licensing and difficult regulation. In the USA it is illegal to prepay your doctor or give them any gifts; The screening of drugs, old herbs and new adult stem cell therapies takes years and millions of dollars yet often the lab work takes only a few days; you can't sign a waver to use an untested treatment and in effect test it. FDA staff and inspectors have gone to jail for bribery. More unreported bribes are rumoured.
And who says the education system is working? Only the unions. 20-30% of the youth are either unemployed, underemployed or are unemployable. It has failed to give them market ready skills and attitudes.
- Would you go back to 1890?
- If we didn't have government, we'd all be in hovercrafts, and
nobody would have cancer, and broccoli would be ice-cream?
- Unregulated markets have been tried. The 80’s and the 90’s
were the robber baron age. These regulations didn't come out of an
interest in restricting liberty. What they did is came out of an
interest in helping those that had been victimized by a system that
they couldn't fight back against.
A. No that was Clinton era government sanctioned real-estate and derivatives fraud run by people that are now advising the Obama government. Again the government had created a moral hazard by promising protection it could not guarantee or fund (Bush tried to fix it but was blocked in congress). A free-market system would not have people victimized by a system that they couldn't fight back against because class actions and no win no fee would be allowed in disputes with such corporations. They often are not allowed due to government regulation written by the teachers of the people that created the sub- prime debacle.
The public education system also contributed another way teaching wrong economics. Austrian school economics is banned from the text books and its the theory system that predicted the result.
- Why do you think workers that worked in the mines unionized?
A. At the time the first unions formed both unions and strikes were illegal in most countries (they still are in the remaining socialist countries). Often the boss was also the government, I.e. Had a post in government, a seat in parliament, a title or was the local magistrate. Thus the first British, European and east coast unions were actually fighting governments directly. Also governments had long before banned negligence and nuisance common law suits brought by employees against employers.
Agencies that could provide free-market labor hire services were also developing at the same time. In some industries they are now common providing all that unions provide at a lower fee. In some industries the union fought to get these competing free-market tools banned. Unlike unions such free market alternative are not immune to the consequences of bankrupting the company because it is the employer and they often organize unemployment insurance while unions don't.
- Without the government there are no labor unions, because
they would be smashed by Pinkerton agencies or people hired, or even
sometimes the government.
A. Pinkerton Government Services was a government contractor and key people from it went on to become the FBI and the NSA, both full government agencies. Again where the unions are not free to sue such strike smashers then they are bound by government law. Where they are free to assault those that want to work and cross the picket, they are again only free to do so because governments put their legal weight behind the strike. Stewart's or 'even sometimes the government' breaks his own argument. As a Chinese or Cuban unionist knows its always the government thugs.
- Would the free market have desegregated restaurants in the
South, or would the free market have done away with miscegenation,
if it had been allowed to? Would Marten Luther King have been less
effective than the free market? Those laws sprung up out of a
majority sense of, in that time, that blacks should not.. The free
market there would not have supported integrated lunch counters.
A. Yes it did the government in many places forced new desegregated businesses to re-segregate even where all the white staff and customers were against segregation. Would Marten Luther King have been less effective than the free market? No because many things he did were free market and he was a republican. In the north of the USA and Canada there was no segregation. There are no state lines in the free market. Where you see a difference across state-lines you know that's government bias in play.
- Government is necessary but must be held accountable for its
A. The rule of law and other public goods are necessary but that need not be the same form of government we see today. How is it to be held accountable without the real challenge of an alternative. If its irreplaceable its unaccountable. Its not just a matter of changing politicians. If 51% of congress and the president were libertarian the public service and lobbyists would fight them day and night. A full redesign in the system form top to bottom is needed in a score of countries at once. We have changed the form of government a dozen times since the apostle Paul said we should obey the powers that govern us. Powers are plural in the greek. It assumes competing (free-market) magistrates as was the case in some places at the time.
A libertarian society would have freely competing entities providing all public goods and dealing with all public matters (res publica= the public thing = republic) Some would be user pays, some would be charities, some would be hybrids and some would be totally new entities using insurance, trust funds, volunteers, etc. None would be tax or tariff funded. It would protect property from theft and lives from injury and death. It would pursue restitution for fraud, negligence and nuisance. It would not be lawless or amoral but you may need to sign off on who provides your law among competing arbitrators.