Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Who Else Will Do It?

My response to the main appeal of libertarianism - that government is just consistently inefficient, if not in a sense corrupt, is the same response that I think most people have: how else would the same job get done?

If the answer is that it could be done by the private market, I have no problem with that, and actually prefer it. But the problem is that so often times it can't be done by the private market. I mean, who else if not the EPA is going to try and protect the environment? To the extent that businesses are able to police themselves out of a moral sense, or even just market pressures to behave cleanly, that's great.

But of course there will always be businesses don't act responsibly, and in fact have a profit incentive not to.

What is more, as the environment is a common, there ought to be democratic input as to what level of damage we allow it to endure. In this way, Libertarianism ends up being opposed to the common freedom. Just as would the idea that there should be no police protecting us at night or firefighters putting out our neighbor's fires.

Frankly, I find libertarian philosophy incoherent: as soon as you concede that government should play some role, then very quickly you are no longer a libertarian but a democratic socialist.  The only question has become not whether government, but how much?  And unfortunately, this is not an argument you generally get on policy from libertarians or conservatives.  Instead, you get all sorts of appeals to broader philosophical principles, which in the end amount to little more than anarchy.

1 comment:

  1. If men were angels governments would not be needed.