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Colin, the United States was not founded with a professional police force. When they were introduced in England they struck the populace as suspiciously French and more like the S.S than Andy of Mayberry. Bruce Benson's The Enterprise of Law discusses how private systems of law & order have operated in the past, the extent to which they do in the modern era and how they might expand in the future. Though I highly recommend the book, I cannot sign on to full-blown anarchism. The original position of humanity was one without government, and it had to be introduced. Yet, everywhere around us are states (except Antarctica and international waters, so anywhere with large settled populations of humans). Something is clearly missing from anarchist theory as anarchy is not a stable equilibrium. Randall Holcombe discusses this in "Government: Unnecessary But Inevitable", part of an extended argument with the anarcho-capitalists Peter Leeson & Ed Stringham.
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jrossi, the medical community does not stop people from hurting themselves, but assists them in doing so. Know how many people die on the operating table? Doctors kill. Derelict, the horrible things we're warned about are precisely the advantages of a public system. If health care was a valuable good on the margin then it might be unfortunate that you're denied care because a bureaucrat doesn't like your tone of voice, and basing it on profit might lead to a more economically efficient outcome. But if healthcare is just as likely to be bad as good there's little harm in restricting the supply. A similar logic would apply in the aggregate if it were a purely positional good. Colin, I'd like to play devil's advocate. Our police force currently locks up a shockingly large portion of the population in large part due to the "war on drugs", which would certainly not be the case if supporters of the drug war bore the costs directly. Our military is in the process of shifting its attention from killing Iraqis to bombing Pakistani wedding parties. That's quite a low bar for the private sector to meet. The Post Office in contrast seems saintly. There are currently more private sector security guards than public sector police officers, and there are a number of communities (not merely enclosed businesses) that employ them for patrols and the like. Switzerland leaves its military defense to the citizenry at large and through the amazingly clever strategy of not attacking other countries has managed to stay at peace for quite a long time (the mountains certainly help, but we've got giant oceans on either side and far weaker countries on our borders). Regarding school schoice, as far as I know randomized trials show no improvement among the children who get to use vouchers. You could argue though that private schools are simply more pleasant places to be if you are forced to be sequestered for seven hours a day, five days a week throughout the school year.
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Ultimately, markets are only as good as actual experts are. Have you read What does a free market require? A market can function with mindless actors. Galton's "wisdom of crowds" (though not actually a market) did not depend on any single individual having an accurate guess. Regarding political predictions, are you familiar with Tetlock's "Expert Political Judgment"? The experts don't do that well compared to a simulated monkey throwing darts at a board. Bryan Caplan gives a commendable defense of experts in his review of the book (which you can read here) but it's mostly against a populist misinterpretation of Tetlock's results. If you simply try to select "the best" experts you are probably going to wind up overpaying the tournament winners, and still have a small sample size (with differing opinions within the sample suppressed by group-think) subject to variance error and overconfident in its own predictions. Furthermore, selecting the best experts requires competence in the selectors to know expertise when they see it. If some things are completely non-predictable then markets will not successfully predict outcomes. Unfortunately, they don't produce a result that says "this price is the result of people making guesses as to what other people think about the underlying". As others have mentioned, in the emperor's nose issue bettors will note the uncertainty by giving a wide probability distribution. Markets in which there is more confidence will concentrate probability in a narrower area.
Toggle Commented May 24, 2009 on Reply to Moldbug at Overcoming Bias
I second EmbraceUnity's recommendation of Kevin Carson's blog. I recommend all right-libertarians grapple with the left-Rothbardians. It's a much better use of time than left-libertarianism's evil-bearded twin, liberaltarianism. He is wrong though that all left-libertarians are consequentialists. The founder of agorism, Samuel Edward Konkling III was a proponent of "natural rights" and is dissected as such in L.A Rollins' "The Myth of Natural Rights". nazgulnarsil & David, it sounds like you have an empirical disagreement. Can either of you point to evidence or make predictions that might falsify your claims? Constant, how might a statement regarding "a fact of the matter about who is right" be falsified? The Mixing Memory cognitive science blog had some entertaining posts on Lakoff. Unfortunately its review of The Political Mind has progressed no further than chapter 3 since July of last year. I recall reading a paper by the heterodox economist John Henry of the University of Missouri-Kansas City on how "classical liberalism" shifted to the right-wing defenders of the status quo from the left-wing opposition to Tory aristocracy, which unusually paid tribute to "those who lost" (in William Appleman William's terms). Unfortunately Matthew Mueller removed his Post-Austrian Economics blog and I can't remember the title.
Toggle Commented May 24, 2009 on Missing Liberaltarians at Overcoming Bias
Typepad wouldn't accept my comment, presumably because it was too long and/or used hyperlinks. Those who wish to can read it at my blog:
Toggle Commented May 24, 2009 on Missing Liberaltarians at Overcoming Bias
Did you make up that MacYoung stuff? Because I laughed at the bio. Haven't read Human Smoke yet, but plan on doing so. Have you read Buchanan's book on WW2? He really goes full bore on Churchill. For my own part I've been defending some undefendable cases of pacifism recently but only as the most plausible way to minimize violence. I can endorse war (including the killing of innocents) if there's good enough reason to believe it would result in fewer total deaths.
Toggle Commented May 21, 2009 on A Few Things... at The Hoover Hog