Gov't Loves Gov't

John K Clark (
Wed, 21 Jan 1998 21:39:26 -0800 (PST)


On Wed, 21 Jan 1998 Charlie Stross <> Wrote:

>the whole point of insurance is _collective_ risk cover -- from the
>customer's point of view.

No. Insurance was invented because of the non linear nature of disaster.
Paying a $100 premium is a very minor disaster, not having $100,000 to pay
for a operation that would save my life is not a thousand times greater
disaster, it is astronomically greater. Insurance companies exploit this
inequality to their benefit and to mine. They expect to make a profit for
their service or they wouldn't do it and I'm happy to pay the premium even if
there is only one chance in 2 thousand that I'd ever need such an operation.
The fact that the company has other customers than me is of interest to the
insurance company but irrelevant to me.

>Warning: I Am Not A Libertarian

I guessed.

>If diabetics pay less than they should then non diabetics will have
>to pay more.

>That's the 'market knows best' answer. I am not happy with it.

Raging against that is like raging against gravity. If the pie is small then
it's pointless to taking endlessly about how to divide it up because however
you do it the pieces will be very small. The solution is to get a bigger pie,
and no system creates more wealth than the free market.

>it subordinates ethics to market realities.

I think it subordinates ethics to logic, but even if you disagree, I still
don't see the problem. If that's the way you feel then give money to
diabetics to pay their bills, give as much as you want, I wouldn't dream of
stopping you.

>It's [the free market] a lot better than, say, Soviet-style central
>planning. But it's got weaknesses

Of course it has weakness, nothing human is perfect, but it's the best thing
found, and remember, perfection is the enemy of the good.

>and I'm fairly certain that better resource allocation algorithms
>exist, if only we are smart enough to identify them.

I sincerely hope you find them, if you do you'll become far richer than Bill
Gates and you'll deserve every penny because you'll have beaten the free
market fair and square in, what else, the free market of ideas. Good luck.

>What constitutes a better resource allocation algorithm? Any way of
>reconciling supply and demand that isn't vulnerable to the production
>and manipulation of monopolies, doesn't encourage its core functional
>units to become Feudal dictatorships - corporation mini-states --and
>encourages cooperative, as opposed to defective, use of common
>resources. Oh, and it also needs to encourage cooperation non
>-coercively, not by being a free market with a coercive regulatory
>mechanism bolted on top of it. (In other words: a system that
>encourages mutually beneficial exchanges and discourages zero-sum

Experiment with your own money and liberty and that of those who want to
follow you, but don't make me submit, I have no desire to play the lab rat.
People are always coming up with hair brained ideas that have failed a
thousand times before and claim it will lead to heaven on Earth if only
everybody does exactly what they're told. If I'm wrong and you're right then
your followers will be so rich, smart, happy, and good looking that you
won't need to use force to make me join as governments do, I'll join your
community willingly. I'm not holding my breath.

Our positions are not symmetrical because I have no wish to force you to join
the free market, anybody who want to be a socialist should be allowed to do
so, just don't make me.

>The day some libertarian thinker dreams up a non-coercive economic
>system that is not susceptive to the tragedy of the commons is the
>day I become a libertarian.

You say that almost as if you think non libertarians have solved the problem.

>Alternative: a political system that is not amenable to bribery,
>nepotism, or corruption and that follows the old dictum of kings that
>"he who rules best, rules least".

Any political system will work perfectly in a population of brilliant saints,
the difference is that the Free Market will work, not perfectly, but pretty
damn well even with real flesh and blood human beings, probably intelligent
machines too.

John K Clark

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