Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Is Government Ever Necessary?

There was a short, interesting little debate between a libertarian and a conservative on the question of Is government ever necessary? I have to say I probably fall somewhere in between. I am all for free markets and minimizing government, but I think that some things probably would not get done (or would not get done very well) if not done by government, for various reasons.

I think part of that is because there really is no such thing as a perfect free market, even when there is no government. This is because you then have some large business entities, such as corporations, and in my experience, the larger a company gets, the more it gets just as inefficient and crappy as the worst government. But at least the government can be somewhat responsive to the people, particularly local government, whereas a corporation is only beholden to a handful of people - the primary shareholders.

Where the line can be drawn - what must be done by government and what can be effectively privatized - I don't know. But it is an interesting discussion.


cornucrapia said...

I generally agree with your point of view. By and large markets are an ideal self-regulating solution, however there are still areas that government excels (infrastructure and national defense come to mind). I'd recommend "the efficient society" by Joseph Heath if you're looking for more on the topic. It's all about this sort of thing and explains how Canada has struck a very reasonable balance. Maybe I just liked it because I'm Canadian though, who knows.

DBB said...

I don't know that I'd say government excels all that well in those areas - national defense I think gets a free pass when there are huge boondoggles there - remember those 500 dollar hammers for the pentagon? Mostly the military spending is a huge slush fund for favored defense contractors.

I've idly wondered sometimes if we'd get less war if the costs were privatized. And if the soldiers in the field had to be paid market wages.