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Let me preface this by saying that I'm actually pretty much onboard with a lot of the Libertarian policies that I've heard. Like anything, of course, I think it can be taken too far. So, when you ask for a "very specific example", this is the sort of thing that comes to mind:

- 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.




When you tackle a certain problem and try to apply a libertarian framework to it, odds are you have to check if it's an implicit monopoly that you're dealing with and go from there.

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.

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Libertarian belief system fails because it bases it's ideology around the idea of ownership.

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.

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He explained this pretty well. How come most ecommerce websites have "trust badges"? The government didn't need to create an agency to rate web site security, but yet such a thing exists.

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.

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There is a big difference between digitally world and the physical world. Ignoring that is the biggest mistake that is being made here.

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Seriously? You don't think it's possible for 3rd party accreditation firms to exist in the physical world?

Have a look at: http://www.bbb.org/

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The discussion is way way bigger than that.

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Ah, sorry I was actually confusing 2 separate comment threads. :-/

I see your point.

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I don't believe you gave any examples of that, what you did what put forward a postulate with very little weight.

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.

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My point was, 5 years ago no one imagined a concept like Square would exist. Just because you can't imagine a nongovernmental organization that serves the same purpose as local health inspectors doesn't mean it's impossible to have such a thing.

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?

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Man, isn't it easy to explain things in a world where there are no transaction costs, no information asymmetries, no externalities, and no collective action problems?

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I was in china for a month and had a great time eating at local restaurants that weren't monitored by health inspectors.

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.

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In China far more people die from eating food laced with toxins than do in countries with food inspectors.

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?

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What does AIDS & malaria have to do with food inspectors in the US?

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.

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China's economy grows so quickly because of the gap between China and the developed world. People will demand regulation as they gain power and awareness of the abuses that come with rapid growth.

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There are poorer countries than China that are not growing at their pace. Your claim implies all developing economies should be growing because of the "gap" between them and developed countries. In reality, most developing economies are struggling to find a path to growth.

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?

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Why do you think unconstrained capitalism is the only way to bring a country out of poverty? You sound like an ideologue.

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I never said that. Please read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

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?

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You accused me of strawmanning and strawmanned my comment in a single post. Congratulations.

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You did strawman. I never said capitalism should be unconstrained. I said a lot of things but nothing to that extent. Instead of responding to what I said, you created a straw man.

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.

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> You did strawman

Nah

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> In China far more people die from eating food laced with toxins than do in countries with food inspectors.

Citation please...

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I have one Chinese friend who married a Chinese American and had a child with her. He then got a job opportunity in Shanghai and took it, leaving her in the US with the child because the food safety is so bad in China. Knowing nothing about the particulars of food safety in China, I thought this was insane. I brought it up to two other Chinese born coworkers, and they thought it was reasonable to raise the child in the US because of food safety concerns.

Briefly searching around the net, the food safety in China does seem very scary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Chinese_milk_scandal http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/18/opinion/chinas-corrupt-foo...

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Briefly searching around the net, anything can be found to be very scary.

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Spotty enforcement isn't the same as lack of regulation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_safety_in_the_People%27s_R...

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My family hails from a developing nation. People get sick eating restaurant food all the damn time.

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That sounds strange. Why would I eat where people are getting sick all the damn time? Is the alternative (avoiding restaurants) worse?

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>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.

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...

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