Anything private enterprise can do, government should be able to do too.
Libertarians frequently condemn government for doing things that libertarians would permit to private enterprise. This is a simple hypocrisy or special pleading. Between property and private contract, there is hardly anything government could do that hasn't already been done by private enterprise.
Indeed, as proof we see libertarians frequently reinventing government badly as private institutions.
Lets look at some of the things libertarians object to that are common in private practice.
Both private parties and governments should be able to own property. Libertarians like to claim government can't own property, but give no reason. They like to claim that government property is invalid because of its origins, but that is based on a serious mistake.
All land is owned coercively. Property is not created by mixing of labor: it is created by mixing of coercion. It doesn't matter if the coercer is private or government. Libertarians like to pretend that private ownership had non-coercive origins, but that is ahistorical.
The absolute property in land that libertarians want is called allodial title. Allodial title refers to land ownership by occupancy and defense of the land, something common to all nations. That's what makes the government the ultimate owner, and why it has rights of taxation, expropriation, escheat and eminent domain. Allodial title is a fact that is required for any nation (or anarchist equivalent) to persist in the face of other competitors for the land. Libertarians may call this coercive, but it is a fact that all property and rights are coercive this same way. What is ordinarily thought of as real property in the US and other common law nations is held in "fee simple". Within this territorial property, government can make any sorts of rules it desires.
What libertarians really object to is that they are not the owners of the allodial title, and hence the government.
Enforcing Property Rights
Libertarians are in favor of private owners being able to enforce their rights. If they endorse the NAP, that includes retaliatory violence. Libertarians think they should be able to have their own military or police capabilites or hire a company to perform them. There are plenty of legal private enforcement agencies, from the Pinkertons to Xe Services, that enforce rights claims both domestically and between nations. So governments should be able to do the same.
Determine Who May Enter Property
A basic aspect of property rights, and the basis of immigration law.
Determine What Constitutes Contract
Contracts are not always written or signed. For example, you could allow continues presence on and use of your property with or without notification of duties if the form of contract is customary. That's why restaurants and bars can have a cover charge, and nations can charge taxes.
Assume you are a landowner, and somebody squats on your land. You are entitled to demand rent of the squatter on pain of legal enforcement of your right to exclude, which can include fines or imprisonment if the fines are not paid. This is no different than taxation of somebody who enters or resides in the USA. The US government has the allodial title, and can enforce its taxation the same as a landlord can enforce rent, even on squatters who haven't "signed a contract".
Taking Earnings Of Labor
That's the basic principle of profit-making in Capitalism. Employers take a portion of the earnings from products produced by employees. It is a form of taxation. Why shouldn't government do so also? You might argue that capitalists contribute capital and organization and so deserve a cut: well, government provides defense, infrastructure, etc. and so also deserves a cut.
Standard Form Contracts
A common libertarian complain is: "Why should I pay for maternity care, for libraries, sidewalks, bridges I don't cross, salaries for politicians I didn't vote for?" And the answer is the same reason you would pay for centralized heat, water, electricity, common area cleaning, landscaping, profit for the landlord, etc. in the apartment you rent. It is called a standard form contract (aka adhesion contract.) And just as you could select a different landlord, you can select a different nation. This is another example of libertarians saying that private individuals can practice something without complaint, but government cannot.
Risk-Based Penalties, As Opposed To Penalty After Harm
Actions that increase risks excessively can get you banned or otherwise penalized in private venues, even if no clear harm results. Government should similarly penalize increasing risks: drunk driving on government roads, for example.
Contracts With Coercive Duties, And Penalties Up To Death
The classic example is seamen's articles, including legal corporal punishment up to and including death, depending on offense. Why shouldn't government have that same freedom of contract? Voluntary slavery would be another example. Government requiring obedience to law or conscription is no different.
Essentially, that's what income taxes are like. There are plenty of similar private practices, such as how theaters pay when they rent films, both by attendance and by sales of refreshments.
That's essentially property taxes.
Establishing Subsidiary Rights Within A Property
Malls rent rent space within their property. Stockholders own rights to profits and voting rights. Titles to land are subsidiary rights within the government's allodial property. (Ultimately, government owns the property just as the mall owner owns the rental space.)
Rearing And Educating Children
Just as there are private schools and orphanages, so government can have schools and orphanages.
Private developments can build their own roads on their property with fees assessed on residents: why shouldn't government be able to build roads in its territory with fees assessed on residents? See: Roads.
- Legalize Drunk Driving [More...]
- Based on the ridiculous assertions: "Now, the immediate response goes this way: drunk driving has to be illegal because the probability of causing an accident rises dramatically when you drink. The answer is just as simple: government in a free society should not deal in probabilities." And why not? The private sector is allowed to.
Those who forget history are doomed to become anarcho-capitalists.
Lurgi (pseudonym), "Anything private enterprise can do, government should be able to do too."