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.
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. 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.
- 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."