Re: Gov't loves Gov't

Charlie Stross (
Fri, 23 Jan 1998 10:53:38 +0000

On Thu, Jan 22, 1998 at 08:52:55AM -0800, wrote:

> Maybe I'm just dense, but I honestly don't see the difference between
> the two statements:
> >"diabetic hypoglycaemia is a..."
> "Untreated diabetes..."

Minor point: even insulin-dependent diabetics who receive treatment
are prone to occasionally losing track of their blood glucose level
and going hypo. You can be receiving treatment and still screw up --
that's all.

The real linguistic mangling is in this one:

> >"...not-too-uncommon cause of auto accidents"
> "...causes lots of road accidents"
> I'm not trying to put words into your mouth, just rephrasing what you
> said. What precisely is the difference here?

Lots. The two statements are not equivalent, because one effectively
asserts "there are lots of accidents" and the other boils down to "of
those accidents that happen, many are caused by ..."

> >You seem to be locked into a fairly narrow way of understanding
> >human relationships, then.
> On the contrary, I often help out friends who need money. But I strongly
> resent the government stealing half my income to give to their bureaucrats
> and people I don't know and will probably never meet, and that kind of
> conflict will always exist when people take money by force.

Well, yeah. (I think we agree on this.)

> >I dunno. The free market _may_ be the optimal mediational method, for
> >all I know; but what I see here isn't people trying to _prove_ it,
> >or, alternatively, trying to invent something better: what I see
> >is people taking it as a forgone conclusion.
> This whole century has been a series of grand experiments in finding
> better ways to organise a society than a free market, and they've all
> proven far worse.

I will agree that the overt experiments -- fascism, communism -- were
disastrous. But I assert that nobody has tried a 100% free market,
either; while markets exist, they're all controlled. And those attempts
at finding better ways to organise society haven't exhausted the
space of possible solutions -- they haven't even scratched the surface!

> Noone has ever done any better, but as I've said
> many times before, the great advantage of a free society is that those
> who wish to try alternate ways of living can go off and set up their
> own voluntary communities to test them out. If one of them turns out
> to be better than a free market then you can be sure that most people
> will soon join them.

What about network externalities? How do you test a new system for
viability within the scope of an existing system?

(My head aches ... )

-- Charlie