Thanks for the clarification and sorry for the delay. I was out all day yesterday and am just now getting caught up online.
It seems that we disagree on the role government should play in the grand scheme of things. I think it should play a central role in regulating activities that provide products and services that impact the common good of society as a whole. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that you believe society can regulate those things without help from a non-market entity (government).
Your first question is what problems arise when government provides other things… things like clothing, cars and computers. I’d say the biggest problem is that government would be a monopoly in those areas. Lack of competition results in fewer improvements in products and service. Production can be inefficient, resulting in higher costs, unless the government itself is well regulated.
The competition problem doesn’t exist with things that serve the common good. There is no need for competing controlled access highways between city A and city B. Competing armies is a non-starter. Competing public school systems might make some sense, but allowing private schools to experiment with new concepts strikes me as a more efficient idea. We certainly have no need for competing prison systems. Privatization in that area has not created healthy competition or a better way to deal with the criminal element.
Let me stress that government has the same problem as any other large organization. It too must be regulated. Otherwise, it grows out of control and ends up doing more harm than good. In my opinion, the U.S. government has reached that point. In a representative democracy, regulation of the government should come from the citizenry. In an oligarchy, regulation comes from the very organizations that government is supposed to be regulating. Regulation becomes an incestuous circle. In the end, this could easily lead to self destruction. That’s why the problem needs to be fixed.
The problem I have with self regulating society (little or no government involvement), is things that serve the common good get overlooked. Each citizen learns to be a self reliant, rugged individualist who takes responsibility for their own actions.
Who then takes responsibility for building and maintaining infrastructure, schools, prisons, armies and the like? Who cares for those unable to care for themselves?
The shirt maker can barter with the potato farmer and the farmer can trade with the boot maker, but who builds a road from the farm to the town? Is there someone who wants to operate a toll road that collects credit slips that can be exchanged for shirts, boots, potatoes, and the like? Humans being humans, I don’t see that working for very long as more and more people need more and more roads, so that more and more things can be bartered. I believe that this explains why there are no real world examples of unregulated capitalism.
Having government sponsored roads, water systems, a stable national currency, public schools, and other infrastructure allows the farmer, the shirt maker and the boot maker to focus on their business. The price for this is paying taxes that (in a well regulated government) go to build and maintain those common needs. There must also be regulations that keep greedy factory owners and greedy farmers from mistreating employees, as well as restricting other activities that improve profit at the expense of consumers and/or the common environment. Despite inevitable imperfections, we know this works. It is working pretty well in the five countries I highlighted, as well as several others.
That was the point of my article. Perhaps I need to write next about what constitutes a Well Regulated Government. I think most would agree that the U.S. government is not a good example. My suspicion, not based on any research, is that demanding full transparency is a key factor. Greed and public exposure are not compatible.