From Critiques Of Libertarianism
We use infrastructure as we breathe the air: we hardly ever think about it unless it fails. But the infrastructure of roads, communications, education, science, defense, law, and many other institutions is largely a product of government efforts.
- Roads (10 links)
- The "who will build the roads?" question has become an inside joke for libertarians. So much so that they don't even debate or discuss it anymore. They just regurgitate "privatize everything!" despite the fact that history shows their solutions don't work except in rare cases.
- Transportation (4 links)
- Transportation is rife with market failure, including natural monopoly, positive and negative externalities, coordination problems and conspiracy to manipulate markets. This necessitates an active government program of regulation, deregulation, anti-monopoly and socialized production.
- Libertarianism: A Luxury for Citizens of Developed Countries [More...]
- "As far as I can tell, libertarian movements only form in societies which have already developed a national infrastructure; the existing government has already levied taxes on the population in order to build a system of roads and bridges, and public services."
- Market Design (4 links)
- Markets don't just spontaneously happen in their final (or current) form. They evolve or are designed by government and participants. Without such design or evolution, markets are rife with failures. Government must be involved to shape the laws and regulations that give order to the market.
- My Take on the Seven Things We Need to Focus on for Equitable Growth in America [More...]
- Brad DeLong presents seven progressive ideas that promote growth and simultaneously reduce inequality.
- Sewers (2 links)
- Libertarians like to complain that governments are responsible for deaths through wars, etc. But they never consider how governments prevent deaths. The sewers of Rome have prevented far more deaths through sanitation than the legions of Rome ever killed in wars. Sewers are natural monopolies.
- The Golden Goose Award [More...]
- "The Golden Goose Award is a new award that recognizes scientists and engineers whose federally funded research has had significant human and economic benefits." The intelligent alternative to Proxmire's "Golden Fleece Awards".
- Water (5 links)
- The public provision of clean water has saved countless millions of lives since Roman Times. Conversion of public resources to private property is called enclosure, and that's what is happening to fresh water today around the world. Water resources and water systems are natural monopolies, and their privatization is another step towards corporate ownership and dominance.
It is unfortunate that the kind of computing Bitcoin pioneered has been given the name "cryptocurrency", and has been associated with all sorts of technofinancial scheming. When you hear "cryptocurrency", don't think of Bitcoin or money at all. Think of Paul Krugman's babysitting co-op. Cryptocurrency applications deal with the problem of organizing people and their resources into a collaborative enterprise by issuing tokens to those who participate and do their part, redeemable for future services from the network. So they will always involve some kind of scrip. But, contra Bitcoin, the scrip need not be the raison d'être of the application. Like the babysitting co-op (and a sensible monetary economy), the rules for issue of scrip can be designed to maximize participation in the network, rather than to reward hoarding and speculation.
Steve Waldman, "Econometrics, open science, and cryptocurrency"
If libertarians were simply to move to small-government societies, they would have to pay for the creation of their own infrastructure (ex. private roads and railroads), and would not be able to utilize the already finished, publically-funded, infrastructure of the developed countries. In this, the libertarians are trying to have things both ways -- they want to keep the infrastructure that was created by the “oppressive big-government taxation” on which to base their new libertarian paradise.
Josh Sager, "Libertarianism: A Luxury for Citizens of Developed Countries"
We are going to need a bigger and better government. The private unregulated market does not do well at health-care finance, at pensions, or at education finance. The private unregulated market does not do well at research and early-stage development. The private unregulated market does not do well with commodities that are non-rival, or non-excludible, or produced under conditions of greatly-increasing returns to scale. We are, in all likelihood, moving into a twenty-first century in which these sectors will all be larger slices of what we do. Thus in the twenty-first century a well-functioning economy will need a larger government share in the economy than was needed in the twentieth century.
Brad DeLong, "My Take on the Seven Things We Need to Focus on for Equitable Growth in America: Thursday Focus"
Anybody who knows the history of the timber industry knows that a lot of libertarian ideas have already been tried in the western US and were a disaster. For people, for the environment, and for markets. Private towns, company stores, "homesteading," the list goes on. It's already been done.
GhostofRFS (pseudonym), "My experience with private roads and why libertarians have no idea what they're talking about"