Bogus Standards of Perfection as Enemy of a Little Better

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.

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  1. kayumochi says:

    I have lived in Georgia for the past few years. One of the reasons for the incorporation of cities like Sandy Springs is racial: whites incorporate so their tax dollars won’t flow into black areas.

  2. Oh, you mean they get fed up with money they are forced to pay, going instead to those who are far more likely to be on the public dole already.

    Fucking good for them. Don’t care about the color. Maybe they do, but I’ll bet they care more where their money taken by force is going and they’ve seen it pissed away for far too long. Shame on them. They want their own money to go into their own community. So evil.

    You’re such a fuckin twat.

  3. Hey Kayumochi

    How about tell us about what a racist county Japan is. How about explain to me how a 2nd generation immigrant I dated (well, actually her grandparents were brought from Korea by force) wasn’t even a Japanese citizen, even though her and her parents were born there.

    …and how come I was denied entry to hundreds of bars from 84-89 because I was gaijin.

  4. Ataraxia says:

    Kayumochi, it’s like this : if a bad action is bad regardless the reason, then a good action is good regardless the reason too. If some or even most of the residents of Sandy Springs had racial motives, the result is that they’ve gone to a more free system.
    It is what it is, though how they got there is ironic in the extreme, apparently!

    Who knows though, the more places do this sort of thing, the more possible it becomes that it might catch-on, as other people (including non-racists presumably) see that it works. That’s reason to celebrate…even though I might not choose many Sandy Springs residents as my personal friends. : )

    and good grief Nikoley! I was hoping for One calm discussion as a break eventually. Oh well, it gives the circulatory system some exercise, I suppose 😉

  5. Richard,

    Everything can be explained, to the negative if it involves government, as racism. It is set up that way. One group against another. Even sub-factions with in the groups. MLK was one of the first national speakers to stop looking at the color of skin and judge the content. That made black people look at how even in there group they discriminated. If you were a blue-black you were frowned upon. Red-bones… same thing. Hair too nappy? Hate them. If you had good hair and fair skin and not to african looking you were looked up to.

    Even in India, where I lived for 6 months, had commercials for skin lightening because being too black was bad. So these weak minded people with no relevant point of debate will use the only tool they think effective. It is the typical beacon of the lazy slow whited. It is obvious Richard… you are a racist. I freely admit that I am. If I had 30 people in front of me and someone asked me to put together a basketball team without getting to know the people first, my eye would wander to the black men first and the Asian ladies last… See racist.

  6. Resurgent says:
  7. @Steven

    I know from experience running all over the Philippines that there’s different grades of social status based on darkness of skin. Somewhere I read that in some South American countries, there are dozens or even hundreds of such classifications.

    Here’s an email out to someone I was just discussing with in email.


    Well, it’s all built into the cake of collectivism. Everyone has to be equally accepted, welcome with open arms even though virtually everyone is more comfortable around people of similar ethnic and cultural background.

    I have lots of gay/lesbian friends and I’ve been in situations where it’s mixed company, a bunch of people, basically, and I’ve been in situations with them were I’m basically the only hetero around. The former is perfectly joyous and the latter, just a bit weird. And I think that’s pretty normal.

    My wife has a longtime black friend who has been her principal at two different schools, now the superintendent at another district. Great guy, we’ve had him and his former wife over many times and been invited to many of their parties. But guess what? When it was a personal party like a bday or something and not a school related deal, I am almost always the only white person in the room.

  8. @Ataraxia

    Item 7:

    “But Richard isn’t the PERFECT BLOGGERZ!” 😉

  9. Richard,

    Sssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… Don’t tell the race baiters that. Only in ‘Merica does racism exist. And only because someone is not a Democrat. Let us not mention that almost every segregationist/racist law was written from the D’s. Let us also not mention the KKK was and still is the extreme arm of the democrat party.

    Listen to this guy!!!

    Mr. Williams is a true luminary.

  10. And, Steven, the most unpardonable sin is to point out the the 1964 civil rights act passage was because Johnson had to make all sorts of deals with Democrats, to get them on board with Republicans.

    I’m not singing its praises, simply pointing out irony.

  11. I am with you… I am an anarchist/atheist so my comments were in no way saying repubs are good. Just pointing out that dems are bad.

    Public schools have really set humanity back.

  12. Take your pick: Evil or Stupid.

  13. Best thing to do when someone accuses you of engaging in -ism or being an -ist is to say “Okay” and nothing more, drives them crazy.

  14. Yep, defensiveness is always a double edged sword.

  15. Resurgent says:
  16. Already in the queue for tomorrow, R. You must not be on social. I pounded that on FB and Twitter all day, yesterday.

    I have choice words, plus the FTA kicker absolutely nobody expects. It’s SpanishInquisitionEsque.


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