Re: A question to Daniel Ust

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Thu Nov 01 2001 - 22:32:39 MST

A question to Daniel UstOn Thursday, November 01, 2001 9:22 PM Smigrodzki,
Rafal SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU wrote:
>Is there in your opinion any conceivable situation where
>the economic interaction of free people, without fraud,
>"third party" intervention, direct coercion, but acting within
>a legal system respecting property rights, could have
>undesirable consequences, necessitating a coercive
>intervention on behalf of some of the persons involved?

It could have undesirable consequences because the future is uncertain.

Whether such conditions would necessitate "coercive intervention" is another
matter. Wouldn't one want to err on the side of freedom and reason?

Also, such coercion would have to meet the standard that it makes the
situation better and does not have other unintended consequences. An
example of the latter would be where the initial intervention leads to
wreckless behavior on the economic actors in the future because now they
come to expect intervention to correct problems. (This is kind of what has
happened with international bailouts in the 1990s. Investors in the US came
to expect the IMF to bail out Mexico, the Asian tigers, and now Argentina.
This is perhaps not the best example, since it's arguable that the initial
interventions have, on their own, wreaked much havoc.)

The lesson of history and economics is that government intervention does not
make the uncertainty less. In fact, it tends to increase it. Why so? The
introduction of coercion into social relations lessens the need of parties
to work together and deal rationally with one another. Coercion then
becomes a potential solution to any disagreement -- whether over prices,
wages, ownership, "immoral" but victimless behavior. (This reflects the
situation of all societies right now. People see government as a means to
bludgeon others into submission. As Hoppe notes in _Democracy -- the God
that Failed_, government is a great decivilizing force.)

This is from the socio-economic perspective. From the psychological one, I
would expect initiated coercion, since it is basically antirational not to
work. Surely, there will be stuff akin to the broken window fallacy --
where some gains are made, but the true costs are overlooked -- in the
mental sphere as well as the social one.

>Or is such situation in principle and in practice absolutely
>impossible and ruled out by the very foundations of your
>moral system?

It's ruled out by my moral system, yes, but I am willing to entertain the
question from an economic and sociological perspective. I aim to make my
moral system consistent with reality. I basically agree with Rand's
Objectivism here, though I don't sheepishly follow all her pronouncements on
anything. (See my site for some areas of disagreement.)

>I could imagine a few such situations, and I can
>weave a (hopefully) coherent web of inferences
>and arguments, starting with the basics of my
>moral convictions and the knowledge I have
>about the functioning of the world. I am very
>curious about your views here.

I am equally curious to hear your "inferences and arguments" here. (That
said, I'm busy searching for a job right now, so I might not be quick to
respond. You might also want to look over my web site for more of my


Daniel Ust

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