For 22 years of arguing politics and alternatives to the status quo—known for its corruption and incompetence on vast levels—I’ve encountered many forms of “assuming the conclusion” or “begging the question” where, whether implied or stated explicitly, a standard of perfection is assumed for the State and so various alternatives (fewer or no laws, less or no coercive taxation, private policing and security, private contracting for public services in general, etc.) are automatically inferior, requiring no further discussion.
It goes something like this:
- We can’t have private police and security services protecting people and property because there would be x, y, and z problems. (Presuming that a-z problems don’t already exist and such massive problems are the precise reason for seeking alternatives in the first place. Search YouTube for ‘police brutality’ or spend some time at CopBlock and similar sites that document atrocities daily. See what Sharpstown, TX did to reduce costs by half and double crime prevention—as opposed to harassing people with traffic stops to raise money.)
- Who will build the roads? (Presuming they aren’t already built primarily by private companies; also ignoring that they’re in awful repair—now that so much of the municipal budgets go to fund pension liabilities.)
- But the FREE RIDER PROBLEM!!! (Presuming that coercive arrangements—that further presume omniscience in what values people desire and will pay for them—are ipso facto superior to voluntary arrangements between the actual parties involved. See: Solving the “Problem” of Free Riding.)
- But houses and businesses would burn down; and, FREE RIDERS! (Presuming that houses and business don’t already burn down and ignoring the fact that 800,000 firefighters in the US are volunteer firemen and make up 70% of the whole service. In Austria, Germany and Switzerland, it’s even a higher percentage and in Chile, it’s 100% volunteers. See here. Also, learn about the Technisches Hilfswerk, Germany’s civil protection arm, where 99% of it’s 85,000 member force are volunteers. What, you mean people actually get off their asses and fight fires and tend to natural and man-made disasters without an elected State minion ordering them to under an employment contract and lavish pension arrangement to be funded via coercive taxation for decades after retirement? You don’t say.)
- Airplanes will fall out of the sky! (Presuming they don’t already, sometimes, or that there aren’t already air-traffic control errors. And it ignores the fact that the entire world, except for the US, is going to both private airports and private air-control where the airlines actually using the services are actually footing the whole bill and passing those costs onto customers who use the services. …Better not fly over Canadian airspace. It’s DangerZ! See Reason’s Annual Privatization Report for 2013. Also, Airport Privatization and Air Traffic Control.)
- Try living in Somalia! (Presuming that without a central government that controls every aspect of human life, everyone is necessarily wallowing in mire. Ignoring the fact that Somalia is actually doing pretty well, in spite of everything, with an actual real growth of 2.6% and…”Somalia now offers some of the most technologically advanced and competitively priced telecommunications and internet services in the world. After the start of the civil war, various new telecommunications companies began to spring up and compete to provide missing infrastructure. Funded by Somali entrepreneurs and backed by expertise from China, Korea and Europe, these nascent telecommunications firms offer affordable mobile phone and internet services that are not available in many other parts of the continent. Customers can conduct money transfers and other banking activities via mobile phones, as well as easily gain wireless internet access.”)
Perhaps seeing it laid out there like that makes it look ridiculous. It is, and has been for as long as I’ve been arguing this stuff, but I assure you that I’ve seen these arguments precisely, in various similar forms, and many others for over 20 years.
Ever heard of Sandy Springs, Georgia? Back prior to 2005 they were an unincorporated city in the county that also includes Atlanta. Guess what? They paid property taxes through the nose, and most of the money was spent elsewhere. I guess that the Ds who controlled things resisted their efforts to incorporate (so that property tax revenues would go to them) because they believed the relatively affluent residents of Sandy Springs needed to fund stuff for the less fortunate.
They eventually got the “right” to incorporate as a city, and they outsourced everything except police and fire. However, the police and fire have no retirement or healthcare they don’t see to themselves via 401K-like contribution plans and healthcare savings plans. As a result, Sandy Springs has ZERO long term liabilities, those of the sort that are choking municipalities from coast to coast. See: Developments in Local Government Privatization and Georgia Contract Cities Continue to Evolve.
Check it out. Eight minutes out of your 4-hr daily TEEVEE budget.
I don’t typically tout privatization because it’s not my preference. I prefer completely voluntary arrangements funded by completely voluntary contributions—kinda like when you volunteer to buy a new iPhone, along with volunteering to pay for it yourself. For the same reason, I’ve never advocated for drug legalization on the basis of all the really cool taxes it could generate. Just stop tossing people in jail for what they decide to ingest.
But sometimes it’s instructive to take a step back and observe that in some places and circumstances, people are figuring out alternative arrangements that are quasi-voluntary. Nope, not perfect, but a little better. And I’m always happy for a little better.
Touting the perfection of existing coercive arrangements as an argument against more voluntary or market-driven alternatives is fallacious on its face. Pointing out that alternatives will not be perfect is unrealistic and unreasonable. Using them together means you essentially have no argument and are just spouting what was regurgitate from someone else, fed to you and swallowed whole.