RE: what if microsoft disobeyed the breakup?

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Thu Jun 08 2000 - 16:54:16 MDT

Matt Gingell wrote:
> The only reason corporations can't use violence is because there's
> someone bigger and nastier who won't let them. Under anarcho
> capitalism there would be no such constraint, in which case they're
> free to detonate and maim to whatever extent the benefits outweigh the
> PR costs. Would people boycott a company that assassinated it's rivals?
> Maybe, but the same people keep reelecting politicians who advocate
> similar solutions to perceived domestic and foreign problems.

I know. That's why I'm a minarchist, not an anarchist. But Phil calls
himself an anarcho-capitalist, which is why I was asking about the apaprent
conflict between *their* economic theory and his expressed views.

> You're drawing a false dichotomy here - either markets are perfect, in
> which case they should never be regulated, or regulation is superior
> and everything should be decided from the top down. Why can't the
> optimum be a mix of the two? I think there are instances where
> regulation can improve the functioning of a market. It does not
> logically follow that I think government ought to be deciding how many
> bars of soap get manufactured.

Doesn't it? The question at issue is what is the best general-purpose
mechanism for making economic decisions. Either a central comittee works
better than a free market, or vice versa. Once you've figured out which
method works best, it doesn't make sense to switch to the other one whenever
things don't seem perfect - the tough decisions are definitely NOT the ones
you want to leave to the inferior mechanism.

I suppose you might argue that different methods work better for different
kinds of decisions, but that's a different issue.

> Free markets work, in general, very well indeed - that doesn't mean
> there aren't situations when they don't. Who 'ought to do well' is a
> function of what you're trying to optimize.

And who decides what parameters should be optimized? Statists think that the
government should decide, 'for the good of everyone'. Phil aparently thinks
that his personal opinions are the best guide. I think the best approach is
to let each individual decide what is important to him - the overall result
of millions of individual decisions will do a much better job of getting
each individual what they want than and single decision could.

> Then government is optimal. Model the historical evolution of top-down
> control as a bottom-up market process and the aggregate result of billions
> locally rational, self-interested decisions. If you don't think the best
> political/economic system won the market, you're just another mistaken
> trying to out-guess the emergent result.


This is one of the places where I think anarchists are a bit clueless. A
market can operate only in the absence of force. It works only because all
of the decisions made by the participants are voluntary, and each
participant makes local trade-offs in the way that best suits his own
desires. The moment you introduce actors that have the ability to compel
others to do things at gunpoint, this is no longer the case. Instead of
evolving in the direction of satisfying the desires of all participants, the
system then evolves to satisfy the desires of those who have access to force
at the expense of those who do not.

Billy Brown

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