RE: POL: Anarchism vs Limited Government

Billy Brown (
Mon, 5 Apr 1999 23:44:54 -0500

Robin Hanson wrote:
> Billy Brown wrote:
> >1) IMO, normal competitive forces will give you markets with a fairly
> >number of relatively large PPAs. ....
> >2) The nature of the law enforcement business makes it easy for PPAs to
> >create geographical monopolies and cartels, ....
> >3) PPAs are not immune to creeping authoritarianism - especially if they
> >are monopolistic.
> These first three sound like you are saying that it is impossible to
> effectively enforce a PPA anti-trust metalaw. If so, this is clearly
> the most important point to discuss more. If you grant enforcement,
> then by assumption monopolies & malicious oligopolies are not
> a problem.

Fair enough. I can easily see setting up a defense-oriented national government that would prevent PPAs from staging an armed takeover. Preventing peacefull monopolist is more problematic - we can do it, but it gives the government enough power (and enough leeway in its use) to make me nervous.

> >4) The consequences of even a momentary lapse in coverage
> are catastrophic.
> It would seem a straightforward to sign up for backup PPAs, so one is
> always covered.

If you have the money, and your PPA contract allows it, yes. But neither of these is a given. 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 is a step down from the situation in a mainimalist state, where slavers, organleggers and other unsavory types can't incorporate and float an IPO.

> >5) The customer is at the mercy of the PPA, not vice versa..
> Is this the same sense that a patient is at the mercy of a doctor?

No, its in the same sense that a citizen is at the mercy of a despot. 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.

> >6) A private law regime with dozens of PPAs, each with multiple law
> >products and complex inter-company enforcement contracts, would be a
> legal regime far more complex than the one we now live in. ....
> This is a more serious objection in my view. But noting how people
> want simplicity is often a major argument for nationalizing
> industries.

True. 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. I actually sat down and tried to figure out how to fix a lot of the problems I mentioned here (and others) through market means. I gave it up when I realized that the average individual was going to have to negotiate more contracts in a year than I have in my entire life.

> 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.

Perhaps it would help if I outlined the kind of state I see as being a superior alternative?

Billy Brown, MCSE+I