- 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...