RE: POL: Anarchism vs Limited Government

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 07 Apr 1999 10:32:53 -0700

On 4/5/99, Billy Brown wrote:
>My worry here is that there will be a not insignificant number
>of people who end up without any valid contract, and that means there
>will be a market for their exploitation. That creates a real risk for
>everyone, in the form of a group of predators looking for unprotected prey.

This really doesn't seem that different from a hundred other arguments for state intervention. What if some poor fools fail to repair their cars and accidents result? Clearly the state needs to run car repair. What if people fail to go to the doctor and spread a contagious disease? Clearly the state needs to run medicine. And so on.

>This is a step down from the situation in a minimalist state, where
>slavers, organleggers and other unsavory types can't incorporate and float
>an IPO. ... If my doctor does me harm, I (or my relatives) can sue him in
>a neutral court. If my PPA does me harm, I can sue it in its own court if
>it deigns to allow me that priveledge.

You may be confusing a minimalist state with a state that makes everyone else adhere to exactly the laws you personally prefer. The state you live in now only has very limited ways you can sue a doctor who did you harm. A minimalist state might not improve on this, and might well allow organ sales or even slavery.

>But my concern here is that the complexity rises so fast that I am
>not at all sure that it is possible for ordinary humans to function in such
>a society. ...
>> If people really really like simplicity enough, most all PPAs may end
>> up enforcing the same law. But that same law might be better. And
>> enforcement styles and quality could still vary widely.
>I don't see the Extropians and the Cristian Scientists purchasing the same
>legal code.

You can't have it both ways. If complexity rises very fast, the costs of Extropians and Christian Scientists choosing substantially different laws will be prohibitive, and so they will choose the same law. If the costs are not prohibitive, then some people will be willing to pay the cost, and benefit as a result.

Robin Hanson   
RWJF Health Policy Scholar             FAX: 510-643-8614 
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 510-643-1884 after 8/99: Assist. Prof. Economics, George Mason Univ.