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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5962/the-business-of-government/

The Business of Government

December 1, 2006 by

Rothbard asks: Have you ever heard of a private firm proposing to “solve” a shortage of the product it sells by telling people to buy less? Certainly not. Private firms welcome customers, and expand when their product is in heavy demand thus servicing and benefiting their customers as well as themselves. It is only government that “solves” the traffic problem on its streets by forcing trucks (or private cars or buses) off the road. According to that principle, the “ideal” solution to traffic congestion is to outlaw all vehicles! And yet, such are the suggestions one comes to expect under government management. FULL ARTICLE


George Gaskell December 1, 2006 at 10:25 am

In South Florida, various government agencies and/or monopolies run daily radio ads imploring me to do such things as reduce my electricity usage and my water usage.

The first time I hear a cell phone provider advertise a similar message, I will probably drive off the road.

Kent Welton December 1, 2006 at 1:14 pm

I find it interesting that no one mentions Rothbard’s very last book, The Case Against The Fed. Its about the long overdue turn of a naive libertarian into a realist.

Kent Welton

Paul Marks December 2, 2006 at 7:44 am

Murry Rothbard may have led his (normally well justified)hostility to the United States government interventionism overseas lead him into supporting (without knowing it) Soviet propaganda against the United States, but he was never “naive” about the Federal Reserve Board.

Murry Rothbard never said that the United States had the worst monetary policy in the world (or anything like that), but he was always (and quite rightly) opposed to the existance of the Federal Reserve Board and to fiat money in general.

This was true way back in the 1950′s when Mr Burns blocked Rothbard’s doctorate for years (because Rothbard was anti central banking – Rothbard had to switch to history to get the work passed, his thesis forming the basis for “The Panic of 1819″), to the end of his life.

Sam December 4, 2006 at 8:12 am

What about that which economists refer to as ‘Natural Monopolies’? That is, services which are deemed too hard for private enterprise to bother with because there are ‘free riders’, those can enjoy the service without contributing, and other services that would seem to create unnecessary and wasteful duplications, such as highways, street lighting, national defense (as opposed to offense/imperialism) and law &order. And, of course, what about certain services that seem ‘immoral’ to exclude those who can’t pay, such as health and education?

The fact that non-payers can get away with such services as street lighting mean private enterprises wouldn’t bother as Capitalism is about user pays. Doesn’t that mean some such services could not be privatised at all?

How about no street lighting? Light up your own house yard and the pedestrians can use torches and vehicles use headlights?

Have nothing but a mess of tollways? Drive a short distance, pay a toll, drive a short distance, pay, drive, . . . Or roads can be left to rot and revert to dirt tracks as constant usage by vehicles would prevent vegetation regrowth?

Could weapons of mass destruction replace armies, at least for national defense? Threaten invaders with the notion of ‘if you dare invade us we will destroy this land and no one will be able to enjoy it’? At least no standing armies make imperialism near impossible and save huge tax bills too.

And what of health and education? Doesn’t capitalism demand those who can not pay for medications and treatments have to go without? Even if you are going die? Some talk about the Hippocratic Oath, but isn’t that line about not refusing treatment a brazen Socialist demand? If Socialism has been show to be false then so should that line which coerces physicians to treat without compensation be annulled? After all how many physicians adhere to the original Oath where they swear by the god Apollo? What other professionals would be willing or be expected to give their service for no payment because the would-be user can’t afford to pay?

The Health answer is obvious from a true Capalist sense but it does make one cringe as it is uncomfortably Social Darwinistic. But of course we know such artificial redistribution take resources where they are most needed, creates inefficiency and risks breaking the whole system.

Yes I know about the standard Libertarian stance against public education. But it does make one wonder what education would be left for the poor in a true Capitalist society? Without the ability to afford education for their children, would not such children receive little education? Wouldn’t it be deemed for the poor family that children are sent to the workforce ASAP? Whilst well-to-do children are learning the skills to proceed with their future careers, poor children would be working and remaining poorly educated and generally unable to gain any skills to improve their living standards (aka upward social mobility), let alone have much education to give to their children in turn?

And finally law & order. My mind struggles to understand private law enforcement agencies and private arbitration agencies to replace the government versions. Its sounds twisted, convoluted, hard to work and ultimately seems to suggest you can buy your version of ‘justice’ if you have the money? Buy your own police, judge, jury, executioner? If Anarchist Libertarians want to the displace the Government that much the only solution that would make workable sense to me is one where you are pretty much on your own and can defend yourself, family, property, pets, plants, etc., with any means you see fit. Land-mines, shotguns, Bazookas. Once someone jumps your fence you can pretty much do what you want to them. Seems a little too much of a free-for-all for my liking.

I don’t know but for me Minarchist Libertarianism makes more sense than having no Government at all. Yes it a contradiction in terms I suppose though . . .

Taiwo A December 4, 2006 at 6:55 pm

Please where can I read about the proper roles of government in a libertarian society? Or is there no role for government in a libertaerian society?



M E Hoffer December 4, 2006 at 10:31 pm


You are very fortunate. Many fine readings, on the subject of your inquiry, can be found right here, on this site, ably provided by vMI.

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