I've studied Libertarianism to the point of finding out that, not unlike other extremist philosophies, it's too far-fetched to ever work. People are too "human" for Libertarianism to ever work. It's too easily corrupted to serve the interests of those with power.
Ron Paul either lives in some kind of puppies and rainbows small-town world where corporate interests never trump personal liberties, where money doesn't equate to power and relative immunity from prosecution, or he's willing to overlook all that and hold out faith that Libertarianism will somehow change how people iteract.
Basically he's the Richard M. Stallman of politicians. Blinded by ideology and ultimately dragging things in the wrong direction.
For instance, if I want to drink radiation laced water, Libertarians would think I have the right. They'd also say I should have to pay for my own medical treatment resulting from that. Reasonable enough.
However, if I drank radiation laced water because a chemical company was disposing of their waste in my backyard and I didn't know, Libertarians would tell you it's your fault for not having the proper testing equipment or paying a company to run these tests for you.
The same thing shakes out for food. For employment. For air travel. For basically everything you do you're assumed to have done enough research to know the risks you're exposed to. Libertarianism also makes the enormous assumption that a safe option will always be available.
Since there's zero protection from monopolies in a pure Libertarian society, they will naturally occur, and the results will be overwhelmingly negative for all but a handful of people, the proverbial 1% if that.
Libertarianism also as much as endorses discrimination as it sees it as your absolute right to decide who you provide goods and services to. Idealists would have you believe that non-discriminatory companies will always out-perform their discriminatory counterparts, but history has proven the opposite. If people are racist, they will certainly pay a small premium for service that reflects their views.
It's this every-man-for-himself approach to living that quickly degenerates into pure Darwinism where the one with the most money, who can easily afford to build a protective bubble around themselves, thrives and the others live miserable, dangerous lives.
Basically a pure Libertarian approach has too many dangerous failure states for it to be taken seriously. There are arguments that can be made for a more or less libertarian approach to problems in society, but to go 100%, full-on is to miss the point.
But I want to ask you this question: can you come up with at least one monopoly that existed naturally for a substantial period of time without any government support for it and without anyone being able to challenge it?
You can only "vote" for a company with your dollars if you have choices, not if they assume a de-facto monopoly.
At least in theory you can vote for your government and effect change that way. This is why they serve a critical function.
Corporations are profit driven. Governments are election driven. These two dynamics can work together to create a reasonably good outcome. Libertarianism promotes corporate interest in isolation of regulation, leading to a run-away system of chaos and virtual anarchy.
On a practical level, I don't see how these exist without government. The risk would be astronomical for a private entity to undertake such a massive investment that relies on negotiations with thousands of individual private property owners. However, if a private entity could pull it off, they would have extraordinary pricing power.
Not my idea of utopia.
When you talk about risks in undertaking an investment, it means there might not be enough demand for something that the government does and so taxpayers in fact are investing in things not enough people actually need to justify the investment. Which simply means that the government is an irresponsible fund manager.
No goalpost-moving this time.
Such monopolies either (a) aren't really monopolies, despite people whining that they are; (b) don't last; or (c) have to be backed with collective force of some sort.
Pretty laughable claim and clearly false on hundreds of thousands of counts.
Then I'm sure you'll have no problem naming a few, in between the guffaws.
And who's moving goalposts? That seems like a random, out of nowhere comment.
You said: "Can you name a single instance of a harmful monopoly that didn't either form or persist because of government backing?"
One possible answer: Windows
You asked a question. You got a suitable answer. What more is there to say? What is this "goal post" you keep referring to?
I know you're eager to roll out the "copyright and patents are government-granted monopolies" line. But those don't work as monopolies in comparing governments to contracts in imaginary free market systems.
Remove government, and businesses would develop their own systems like copyright and patents, which they would privately enforce through contract, private prisons, and mercenaries. You still end up with a Windows monopoly because Bill Gates started life with a lawyer and banker for parents.
You replace one system with another that's almost identical, but small businesses lose any kind of recourse if a bigger business decides it owns a particular creation.
However, even if you set aside the question of its dependence on government-enforced IP rights, Windows is a bad example of a harmful monopoly, IMHO. Network effects make the calculation of net "harm" very difficult. Thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs (to say nothing of Microsoft employees) have become millionaires thanks to those network effects. Good things have happened in the world of personal computing that could never have happened in a fragmented world where dozens of vendors were pushing their own 6502 or Z80 boxes with proprietary BIOSes and OSes, or where Linux geeks worked day and night to make sure ordinary users would never be able to accomplishing anything on their own. Somebody had to step in and harness all of those creative forces in a productive direction. Frankly, I'm glad it was Bill Gates and not Steve Jobs.
Where I think you are wrong is with your supposition that "IBM mercenaries" would have roamed around like mafiosi, crushing the PC revolution. That's what I call moving the goalposts, or more properly, a strawman scenario. You won the argument in your own head by inventing a fictional world where you could claim to be right.
Remove government, and businesses would develop their own systems like copyright and patents, which they would privately enforce through contract, private prisons, and mercenaries.
I'd need to see an example to buy this. (Don't use Somalia or any other failed Islamic states dominated by other governments' proxy warriors.) We don't live on the set of Blade Runner, at least not yet.
I guess the closest example I can think of would be the medieval guild systems. Those aren't coming back, not as long as capital can flow freely between nations and individual actors are gaining rather than losing influence.
You replace one system with another that's almost identical, but small businesses lose any kind of recourse if a bigger business decides it owns a particular creation.
The patent system is doing a better job at that than your violin-case-toting IBM thugs ever could have.
The system where that's real is as real as whatever free market system exists in your head. I don't think football metaphors (goal posts) will work until we agree on what the stadium looks like.
Until that happens, all we can do is talk past each other based on our own ideas about what "free market" means. A free market to me is one where the strongest invariably crushes anyone weaker. Anything more restrictive would require government or cultural norms. Moving to any more or less restrictive system requires changing at least one of those things. Any discussion that doesn't see that isn't going to produce anything practical.
And I'm not interested in discussing hypothetical markets, so I'm going to go do something else and ignore this subtree.
This is simply false. Pollution would be treated as a tort. Now, you can't set up a home near an already existing, noisy club and complain about noise pollution. If you set up a home in a quiet and unpolluted area, you have a right to maintain the structural integrity of that area.
The details of what the maximum allowable punishment for someone coming along and polluting your land is is a bit of an advanced subject. That you have no recourse except to test your soil for pollution and clean it yourself is just incorrect.
>The same thing shakes out for food. For employment. For air travel. For basically everything you do you're assumed to have done enough research to know the risks you're exposed to. Libertarianism also makes the enormous assumption that a safe option will always be available.
Again false. Libertarian law is all about what to do when people violate others' rights. There's also certain reasonable assumptions of safety which consumers must be able to make. For instance, it would be a crime to sell some sort of food, presented as safe to eat, which was really poisonous. It would be a crime to sell tickets for a plane ride and fly with an untrained pilot or a plane which hadn't been checked for safety.
>Since there's zero protection from monopolies in a pure Libertarian society, they will naturally occur, and the results will be overwhelmingly negative for all but a handful of people, the proverbial 1% if that.
If you had any genuine concern about monopolies, you would have concern about your government. A state is a territorial monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, the ability to arbitrate disputes and to assign property rights.
State-granted monopoly rights (IP for instance) is different from a hypothetical "natural monopoly". A natural monopoly would not be problematic because all it would mean is that one company is so successful at meeting the demands of consumers such that no others care to or are able to enter the market.
>Libertarianism also as much as endorses discrimination as it sees it as your absolute right to decide who you provide goods and services to. Idealists would have you believe that non-discriminatory companies will always out-perform their discriminatory counterparts, but history has proven the opposite. If people are racist, they will certainly pay a small premium for service that reflects their views.
The other side of the coin to rights of free association, or what you would disparage as legalized racism, is that the tolerant of is would be free to discriminate against racists. As it is now, we will never root out racism because hardcore bigots are afforded state subsidies and not cast out of civil society.
If people are not racist—and I would say the vast majority of Americans are not—why wouldn't they also pay a bit extra for services which reflect their values? If most people are concerned for the poor not receiving medical services, why wouldn't they pay a bit extra to receive services from a Samaritan hospital which never turns away the poor?
You can't just take a look at a small segment of the worst of humanity and pretend they are the majority because it is convenient for your argument.
Let's analyze this situation with some economic rigor. What you're invoking is Coase's theorem. The idea that if you create property rights in what would otherwise be externalities, and let people transact freely in those property rights, the end result will be an optimal allocation of rights that maximizes value.
Now, I'll get to the punchline before going further in depth. It's deeply ironic that libertarians invoke Coase's theorem in this context, because Coase himself used smoke pollution as an example of a situation that called for regulation rather than the creation of property rights.
You see, there is an important assumption underlying Coase's theorem: transaction costs are zero. But in the environmental context, transaction costs are not zero, and in fact they totally dominate the relevant transactions. A polluting coal plant might cause $1,000 of health damage to each of 100,000 people, and it isn't worth any of their whiles to litigate such injuries. Yet the cumulative impact of such activity is large--the coal plant is essentially "stealing" $100m, but getting away with it by stealing a little from a lot of people at once.
Multiply that by the hundreds and thousands of pollution sources that have a measurable impact on each person, and what you get is an unworkable system. And Coase himself recognized this and said as much in his papers.
You're attacking a strawman, and I said nothing about the Coase theorem. For some criticism of Coase by a libertarian economist see here from page 4 of the PDF: http://mises.org/rothbard/lawproperty.pdf
I said, "Pollution would be treated as a tort." Nothing really special there because all rights violations would be, viz. we do not believe in victimless "crimes against society".
I then was mentioning the idea of easement rights in pollution (for more on this cf. from 26 in the above PDF).
>A polluting coal plant might cause $1,000 of health damage to each of 100,000 people, and it isn't worth any of their whiles to litigate such injuries. Yet the cumulative impact of such activity is large--the coal plant is essentially "stealing" $100m, but getting away with it by stealing a little from a lot of people at once.
In common law tradition, people were able to sell their tort claims, no matter how small. Modern authoritarian law prohibits this, there are barriers to class action suits, and so on. We'd like to return to the common law tradition here, so if you are concerned about this, you ought to be on our side.
Besides the problem with a governments ability to simply be corrupt, polluters often pay fines to the bureaucracy rather than compensating victims. You are incorrect to automatically assign a $ amount to any claim of this sort. The punishment could involve at least a chance of death and who knows what all these minor health hazards might add up to.
Still, the impact of an individual polluter may be seen as trivial, but firms would be able to collectively pursue the torts after buying claims from the victims.
I believe in a continuation of good 'governance' after abolishing 'government'. I'm working on some interesting ways in which "municipal" service providers might utilize distributed torts against polluters into something resembling various "social welfare" programs we have today.
My main problem with Ron Paul besides the fact that he never tried to approach libertarianism as something that is useful to solve pragmatic problems that exists today and tried to develop a confrontational attitude towards other people, he was someone who always chose tribalism instead of being a good politician, the racism in his newsletters and the fact that he always appealed more to the angry white male stereotype than to the common people, mom and pops of every ethnic group who are working to pay their bills and raise their children. That and the fact that he's a firm believer in the Austrian school.
It has been fashionable since the success of the natural sciences in the 1800's to attempt to apply the methods of the natural sciences to the social sciences. Concepts like "equilibrium" are applied incorrectly because a person goes on to striving for the next thing right after achieving the first and markets are in a constant flux.
On why mathematical economics is a failure, see here: http://mises.org/daily/3540
If you wish there are plenty of refutations of why the criticism of Austrian school about modern economics is misdirected, I believe pretty much of them do a good job, Bryan Caplan was right in almost everything, you need not to accept any of them of course, I respect you, but you'll need to know that I do not accept anything that comes from mises.org and do not read them anymore.
You're either incapable or unwilling to have a real discussion though, so that is just for anyone else who cares.
As I said in the above post I am unwilling, I have more important things to do than entering in eternal ego wars on the net.
By the way: http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html
EDIT: I was rude in this comment and if you felt offended I ask you to forgive me.
Either way my problem with Autrian school is that it try to rely too much on logic and methodological individualism, probabilistic CFD using some Monte Carlo methods, I'm not against first-order logic since I'm a mathematician by training and I think the Austrian use of it brought some useful and good insights into economics, my main problem is with methodological individualism, I think it does nothing to advance economics as a science, you're right that Economics is not Physics, but them ever in Physics we have Fluid dynamics and Heat transfer models that use statistics because they are complex and a complete model is unforeseeable in the near future, maybe there will be a complete model, maybe not.
A macroeconomic model is just trying to approach a complex system in the same fashion which have an additional problem, it deals with humans, mind you that generally every researcher in neoclassical economics is well aware that their models have some assumptions that breaks at some point, Stieglitz and Kahneman have shown some example and general equilibrium is a favorite target. It's also good to point out that not every economist is trying to use their models to recommend banks or governments what to do, Krugman made an essay in the past actually recommending economists to advise policy, not every economist is interested in this however.
I believe this is enough, if you reply I will answer one time but bear in mind that I'm not an economist.
: or numerical methods, my PhD thesis was in CFD
: They all generally know about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticisms_of_neoclassical_econ... Generally every
It's impossible in many cases to identify the source of pollution. For instance, suppose I'm a farmer and acid rain is damaging my crops. The source could be polluters hundreds or thousands of miles away. Proving that any specific polluter was the source of the pollution that hit my farm is simply not feasible.
The tort approach in essence says it is OK to pollute as much as you want as long as your pollution will be dispersed enough so that no particular victim can trace the pollution on their land back to you.
Another problem with it is that cleaning up pollution can be very expensive, so that it would not be uncommon for those polluters who can actually be identified sufficiently to be sued to not have enough money to cover the damages they cause.
The tort approach simply cannot deal with the problem. As Friedrich Hayek (one of the leading libertarian economists) noted in his book "The Road to Serfdom": "Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, or of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation. In such instances we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism. But the fact that we have to resort to the substitution of direct regulation by authority where the conditions for the proper working of competition cannot be created, does not prove that we should suppress competition where it can be made to function".
That's a very bold statement that needs some justification.
Take climate change. For the moment, I don't care if you believe in it or not: just take it as a given, because something like that is certainly physically possible.
Let's say for years many countries polluted the atmosphere with CO2. Over time, it substantially changes the planet's climate and causes untold trillions of dollars of damage to billions of people.
How do torts handle this? For one, who does the suing? Do we allow class action lawsuits with billions of people? What about countries that don't allow class action lawsuits?
What if one heavily-polluting country has for years funded propaganda opposing accurate science, and when chickens come home to roost it still insists that carbon emissions had nothing to do with warming climate? What if the legal system refuses the huge payoffs that would be required? What if the will happens to be there but the country just can't afford to pay for the damages it caused?
Is it even fair to levy taxes or fines on people to pay for something that's been going on for generations? After all, why should our descendants be forced to suffer because of our present day callousness and shortsightedness?
Should people who benefited from climate change be forced to pay more? How does one deal with the fact that everyone, to varying extents, helped cause it? Is it only people who were totally off the grid and carbon free who should get to receive compensatory payouts?
Maybe you should take issue with those countries' laws rather than anarcho-libertarian law.
>What if the will happens to be there but the country just can't afford to pay for the damages it caused?
Sometimes we can be faced with a situation where a destitute criminal causes more damage than he will ever be able to repay. Insurance is a possibility in protecting victims faced with such a circumstance. I am not sure what else you think we could do though, or how this is supposed to be a valid objection to anything I've said, even granting for the sake of argument that climate change can be directly attributed to certain perpetrators.
Hold on a second though Al Gore. I am not so much a climate change denier as a believer in science. For any model in the natural sciences to have validity, that model needs to be able to predict. As much as it is repeated that the current science is beyond questioning, climate change scientists still lack a single accepted model which is able to predict anything.
If you had one then we might be able to attribute a certain amount of damage to one individual from their seaside home being washed out to myriad CO2 emitters. Certainly this would be a massive clusterfuck if you actually had valid science, way more than a region would have to deal with sorting out the horrible situation with typical pollution governments have caused, but I can't give perfect answers on how people might sort this hypothetical out.
Your argument implies a lack of faith in a single person or a small group of people to effect change. Do you believe that only government has the ability to keep our water clean?
Is this behavior guaranteed, and would the public necessarily choose to stay informed? Free markets are dependent on rational, informed actors; humans are neither rational nor informed 100% of the time. Some other thing would have to step in (an organization, a government, whatever) at some point.
> Your argument implies a lack of faith in a single person or a small group of people to effect change
If I owned the polluting company, I would likely have much more power than the poor sap I'm poisoning. Money seems to speak louder than actual words. Compared to some tycoon, a normal person is basically insignificant and is much less likely to cause any change.
> Do you believe that only government has the ability to keep our water clean?
I don't know what the right answer is, but to put it bluntly, your approach seems like a deeply flawed one to me.
Please don't "prove to me how it actually would work". Just think about it a while for yourself, and learn to accept that there's limits to the philosophy. Libertarianism is ultimately a heuristic, and you do it no favors by handwavingly claiming that you can prove desirable large scale behaviors based on a small set of axioms.
Signed - a libertarian.
The Vietcong got weapons and supplies from China and Cambodia, the Afghani insurgents got weapons and supplies from the US to fight the Soviets (including explosives ), and the current Iraqi insurgents get money and supplies from extremists all over the place, mostly from the Emirates (afaik).
All of these fighters did not build their own weapons and skills out of nothing.
 "Other CIA specialists and military officers supplied secure communications gear and trained Pakistani instructors on how to use it. Experts on psychological warfare brought propaganda and books. Demolitions experts gave instructions on the explosives needed to destroy key targets such as bridges, tunnels and fuel depots. They also supplied chemical and electronic timing devices and remote control switches for delayed bombs and rockets that could be shot without a mujaheddin rebel present at the firing site. " http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/pol/wtc/oblnus091401.html
And while those armies did eventually get arms supplies from abroad, in their early days they had to improvise. Viet Cong fighters early in that war, for instance, had to scrounge old French weapons or even homemade shotguns fashioned from galvanized pipe. The Iraqis' first IEDs were jerry-rigged artillery shells lifted from abandoned army depots. The foreign arms pipelines generally don't open up for a revolutionary army until it's proven it can fight and win at a small scale on its own.
- City governments have health inspectors that check local restaurants, and food-product companies to ensure they are using good ingredients, that the equipment is clean, etc. In a libertarian world (at least, certain versions of one) this practice would not exist. Now think what happens when a Monsanto executive realizes that paying the occasional legal suit is cheaper than keeping their packing plants clean and disease-free.
In your particular example you're dealing with a city government monopoly for health inspection. It's not free and is paid by citizens in the form of taxes. If there was no government and citizens believed it is in their interest to have such an inspection, surely you'd have at least one, but possibly two or more competing with each other and financed by consumers voluntarily. When you have a government, what you have is a monopoly which is, apart from all other evils of monopoly, much more vulnerable to corruption. If a government official is bribed and it is revealed, he may go to jail, but the agency itself stays in business. Which means it has almost no incentive whatsoever to prevent corruption among its employees.
Finally, government doesn't really ask people if they need such an inspection after all and if yes, how thorough the inspectors should be: maybe businesses in this town are exceptionally honest, or maybe, on the other hand, they are exceptionally sloppy. So what you have with a government in place is a monopoly which business operations are based not on the actual demand for its services, but rather on some metrics that government officials came up with, which may or may not be useful.
You explain the problem pretty well yourself when you say that we have to think in the framework of libertarianism.
Thats like saying you will believe in Jesus once you let him into your heart.
If people wanted a health inspection organization to rate restaurants it'd exist. Since the govenrment already monopolized that field it doesnt. Okay, it sort of does, it's called Yelp.
Anyways, the point is pretty clear, we have all sorts of "trust" systems on the Internet to verify everything from privacy (Truste) to security (Verisign, etc.). People can create these types of organizations on their own without government and will if they actually do something useful.
Have a look at: http://www.bbb.org/
I see your point.
With respect to health inspection. The problem is that most people don't care about health inspection as long as they don't get sick.
I.e. Yelp is useful for detecting whether people get food poisoning perhaps. It is not useful for detecting when 25 year old meat is being used which it actually is some times.
Detecting that takes quite a lot more effort.
So again the internet is good for many things and is able to disrupt a great many areas and already have. But don't make the mistake of confusing technical disrupting with political disruption.
I don't understand what me working at Square has do do with anything.
I believe in as little a government as possible. That does not mean that I believe that there should be no government at all.
On the contrary, quite a few similar organizations do exist, but only when a government monopoly doesn't kill competition in that space. For example, who in the 90s would have guessed that something like TrustE would exist. It's not that far fetched to imagine that if government wasn't policing restaurants a private organization could exist to provide such a service. Yelp doesn't do that because it's not their mission and no one is going to make that their mission since the government already monopolized that job.
I'm not saying we should have 0 government either, but if we're not willing to question the necessity of things as trivial as local government health inspectors then where do we draw the line?
Most of the developing world does not have health inspectors monitoring restaurants because it's not that important of a thing to do.
The lack of food regulations in China made it possible for lots of amazing restaurants to exist because local people don't worry about regulations. If they want to sell you food, they just do it. Somehow, society manages to exist in this manner and it's actually quite nice.
Your argument is totally absurd.
So many people in Africa are dying of AIDS, malaria, and other diseases that have long been cured in western society, near apocalyptic levels of death by European standards, yet the population is growing and commerce is going on. Are you suggesting that this situation is "quite nice"?
When you eat at a restaurant that isn't expected you'll probably live, but if you die you'll just be a statistic. Is that any way to run a society?
In China, far more people die from a lot of things because the majority of the country still lives in poverty. Lack of government regulation is why they are one of the world's fastest growing economy and economic growth is the main engine for solving their health issues.
You're perhaps right, people will one day "demand regulation" because that's what happens when countries get so wealthy that politicians can't pander on bigger issues and instead start making big deals out of smaller ones (i.e. we'll protect you from unhealthy restaurants). Not to mention, like all organizations, governments fight to continually grow. Unlike corporations, governments can't go out of business (easily) and have the support of misguided do-gooders.
Europe is going through this right now. They developed before the United States and they are declining before us as well due to the excess of government.
Finally, to claim economic growth in China is "abusive" is to show total disregard for the poverty of the people living in the country. China is still an incredibly poor country and economic growth is helping move millions out of poverty every year. Would you prefer slower growth and more poverty?
What's the point of commenting if you're just going to name call and divert attention from the original conversation using straw men?
If you really care about people and what's best for society you'd act differently. Granted, 2 people chatting on HN don't matter much, but why even to comment if you don't give a damn about anything other than protecting your current set of beliefs?
Just to clarify:
"A straw man is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position"
You misrepresented my position. I chastised you for not responding to what I said, but that is not the same as misrepresenting your position.
Briefly searching around the net, the food safety in China does seem very scary.
The maximum allowable punishments under libertarian law would be very harsh. Endangering swaths of people's lives could result in that executive's death. It wouldn't be just a matter of paying off a small bribe. For details on the theory of proportionality, see this PDF from page 12 especially: http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/b...
What do you mean by "libertarian world"? Libertarianism is a spectrum, so it's hard to give examples without knowing what specific kind of libertarian world we are discussing.
For instance, there are some libertarians who say there should be NO government. Everything should be handled by markets and private property rights. To those libertarians, my example would be dealing with crime. For instance, suppose you come home and find that a crime has been committed against you--perhaps something of yours has been stolen, or a family member has been killed.
You call a police company (one of many competing private police companies) and hire them to investigate the crime. As part of their investigation, they determine that they would like to talk to me, and that they believe important evidence is in my house.
When they knock on my door and ask to search my house, I'm going to tell them to go away (and I'm going to back that request with force--both my own guns, and the guns of the private police force I have hired to keep trespassers off my land).
Oops. With no government, who issues search warrants and provides the force to execute them?
I've seen various attempts to resolve this problem, but none that would actually work, where by "work" I mean achieve the outcome that they are intended to achieve.
You realize that's what a government is, right?
I see your challenge went mostly unanswered. Unfortunate because I really would like to hear from the "Ron Paul is crazy" crowd since this is the first I've heard that such a crowd exists. Whenever I hear Ron Paul speaking he sounds very smart, educated on the topic at hand, and possessing of a much deeper insight than most.
Second, allow lawsuits for damage to property resulting from pollution. There could be a neat little lawsuit right now: NY and NJ residents vs. 5 biggest polluters in the world, on account of Sandy and the scientific evidence that Sandy was very much a result of AGW. (But then, it should be noted that lawsuits decided by courts is a governmental function.)
Well, handling property damages in court is deterring "tragedy of the commons" by making putting the commons-over-user at financial risk.
> ... more subtle things like information asymmetries and cognitive overload.
You pay someone to give you information. We do this now: our taxes fund the EPA and they give us information.
> You can't just ignore the parts of economics that don't fit into your ideology.
I'm not a libertarian. To the best of my understanding, there are some things that really should be done by the private sector and not by the government (airport security, for example). There are also things that really should be done by the government and not by the private sector (the trend of privatizing prisons disturbs me).
You asked a question, though: how would a libertarian society's environment be protected. I offered up an option.
You have a market failure: pollution creates negative externalities and are over-produced in a free market.
You use one common solution to market failures: create property rights that can be protected by litigation.
You now run into another economic problem: Coase's theorem only guarantees efficient outcomes if transaction costs are low. The cost of litigation to enforce injuries as diffuse as environmental injuries would be huge.
You also run into another problem: it's nearly impossible to track injury resulting from pollution to a source once it's out and mixed with all the other pollution.
The libertarian approach runs face first into the brick wall of the very economic theory it's based on.
The sensible solution, as Coase himself noted, is a regulatory apparatus to stop pollution before rights are violated. As a lawyer I'd love the litigation free-for-all that would arise in the libertarian scenario, but it's just an unworkable approach. The fact that it is repeated so much is a triumph of ideology over rationality.
I'm with you that the libertarian approach is somewhat worse on the effectiveness scale than what we're capable of doing in our current system. But I'm not going to go so far as you and say it's nonsense.
A current issue in my area (Minneapolis metro area) is 3M's PFCs contaminating ground water in Lake Elmo, Oakdale and Woodbury. 3M released these chemicals into the area starting in the 1940s, when their health and environmental effects were not known. Regulation would therefore not have helped in this particular case.
The court system is working, though: the State of Minnesota is suing 3M for damages, and 3M is engaged in clean up. Note that this lawsuit is not alleging an infringement of regulations (at least, not to my knowledge), but instead is focused on 3M having negatively affected property regardless of intent.
This is one example of the court approach working (I've got my fingers crossed that 3M's gonna lose).
My point is, framing it as a property rights issue and handling it in the courts is a helpful thing and not nonsense.
Suppose Ron Paul is not willing to compromise on his libertarian principles. Wouldn't he still make a good president considering that there are "checks and balances" and he wouldn't have dictatorial power? I mean there are so many politicians of various denominations out there and none of them that are of any significant power are libertarians - all of them are essentially "compromisers".
Having a diehard libertarian of influence in such an environment can't be bad for the country. Somebody to look after the liberties. To raise hell every time some commercial interests try to impinge on yet another one, you know.
Corporations are a construct of government. So yes, if we limit the power of government, corporate power will be limited too.