The Market: The Other God That Failed

Can you apply your solution to your own product/story? You quite frequently referred to what libertarians believe/assume… but you never said which libertarians. You never quoted a single libertarian. How do I know that you’re not simply making shit up? How do I know that you’re not referring to the stupidest libertarians in the world? How do I know that you’re not trying to sell me a lemon?

Your argument is that the government needs to protect me from crappy products. It’s entirely possible that your story is a crappy product. Therefore… the government needs to verify that your story isn’t crap? The government needs to verify that none of the stories on Medium are crap? The government needs to verify that none of the stories on the internet are crap? How much time and money would that take? Doesn’t the government have more important things that it could be spending our tax dollars on?

Let me quote a Nobel libertarian economist…

A nation cannot survive with political institutions that do not face up squarely to the essential fact of scarcity: It is simply impossible to promise more to one person without reducing that which is promised to others. And it is not possible to increase consumption today, at least without an increase in saving, without having less consumption tomorrow. Scarcity is indeed a fact of life, and political institutions that do not confront this fact threaten the existence of a prosperous and free society. — James Buchanan, Richard Wagner, Democracy in Deficit: The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes

All the time and money that the government spends fact checking every story is time and money that the government could spend on other things…

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron…Is there no other way the world may live? — Dwight D. Eisenhower

The best libertarians are all about recognizing the reality of scarcity, trade-offs and opportunity costs. Your story contained absolutely none of this. In your fantasy world the additional consumer protection would have absolutely no (opportunity) cost. You might argue that we’d simply make rich people pay more taxes. But you would be ignoring the reality that those additional taxes would have alternative uses… biodiversity conservation, public education, public healthcare, space exploration… it’s a long list.

The issue isn’t whether the government can do beneficial things. The issue is how we ensure that the government does do the most beneficial things. As I mentioned before, the only way that the government will do the most beneficial things is if taxpayers can choose where their taxes go. A market must be created in the public sector. Each and every taxpayer must have the freedom to use their taxes to support the most beneficial things that the government does. If you think that consumer protection is more beneficial than cancer research then you would be free to spend your own tax dollars accordingly. Let everyone know, based on your own willingness to sacrifice the alternatives, just how beneficial/important consumer protection is to you. Knowing what’s truly important to others is how and why markets work.