Re: Libertarian Economics

Eric Watt Forste (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 18:11:46 -0700

Joao Pedro writes:
> Are most of you, extropians, libertarians?

Well, I'm one.

> Why do you think free-markets are the best economical solution?

I'm not sure what you mean by "best economical solution". I
just don't think it's a good idea to allow some self-important
people with guns at their beck and call to run around telling
other people what to do. I guess I got this wacky idea by
reading a lot of history and some price theory and game theory.

> In today's world, it's almost impossible to do something without
> affecting other persons, still why do you claim individual freedom
> and an almost cult of individual property so important?

Your control of your property is your ability to defend yourself
from the ill effects of other people's actions on you. (Likewise,
a poor person's control of eir property is eir ability to defend
emself from ill effects of your actions on em.) The "affecting
other persons" that you are talking about is called "externalities"
by economists. One of them, a man named Coase, proved (if I have
this right) that in a market with minimal transactions costs,
externalities can be resolved by market processes. Most economic
progress seems to be related to reduction in transactions costs.
Other (non-market) means of resolving externalities generally
require authorities with enforcement powers (i. e. guns); I prefer
voluntary solutions, perhaps as a matter of taste, and Coase has
shown that voluntary solutions can work. I think Coase won a Nobel
prize for this work.

> Complete freedom in economies will bring to the scene big
> corporations instead of small, local business.

Really? I hadn't known there was a proof of this. But even if
this is the case (and I'm not sure it is) unfreedom in economies
brings to the scene big governments instead of small, local
businesses, so less economic freedom doesn't really solve this
problem. It just shifts the threat from big corporations to big
governments. Big corporations at least have the advantage of
usually funding themselves voluntarily, and not usually interfering
with the lives of people they have no contractual relationship
with. At least when you compare them with governments.

> Won't this corporations have too much power and therefore harming
> everyone (the consumers and general public) but themselves?

I doubt that they'd have as much power as governments do now,
and governments often harm everyone (the consumers and general
public) but themselves.

> Do you think the economy should be based on small business or big
> corporations?

I don't think this is a question that can be settled on a
priori grounds. I think people ought to be allowed to do what
they want as long as they refrain from harming others. I know
that "harm" is difficult to define, but no more difficult than
trying to decide, in advance, whether or not everyone would be
better off if all busineses were small or if some businesses
were large and impersonal.

> What do you think of environmental issues? Do you think technology
> will always give us the solutions to all our problems?

If it won't, then I don't know how governments are going to fix
the environmental problems either.

> What do you think the intervention of government in economy should
> be?


Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd