Re: Externalities (was Re: Gun census Tally: Sun, Dec.21,

Keith Elis (
Sun, 21 Dec 1997 19:55:41 -0500

Michael M. Butler wrote:

> >and they may not be the most practical method of ensuring
> >your own personal autonomy and freedom.
> This, while it is arguable, is a complete non-sequitur. The "if this is so,
> then" part of your sentence suggests a sequitur for which I find no
> evidence in any of the rest of your post. Are you, perhaps, throwing sand
> in the bull's eyes?

Huh? If the aggregate external costs are greater than the aggregate
external benefits, then firearms are not as inexpensive as the market is
telling us because those costs are not included in the cost of
production. If guns aren't as inexpensive as the market is telling us,
then before we decide if they are practical we best figure out how much
they *do* cost us. I'm using "practical" in one of its common sense
meanings: "efficiently accomplishing the stated purpose."

This stated purpose is securing power and rights (personal autonomy and
freedom) according to the doctrine of force presented in M. Lorry's
post. I don't dispute that they can help, I merely suggest that if you
care about doing this with minimum cost, then you have to also take into
account the externalities.

> I could argue that there is no method available that "-ensures- {emph.
> mine] [one's] own personal autonomy and freedom", but I know of an approach
> that seems to be recurrently popular the world over and has some success
> rate: monopolize power and subjugate everyone else. It worked for Bokassa,
> Amin, Dzugashvili, Emperor Ch'an... And _it's_ not a sure thing, and you
> have to be a certain type of person.

My initial post flowed out of the assertion that firearms aid in the
exercise of force. Again, I don't dispute this at all. Nor do I dispute
the fact that the exercise of force *enables* one to secure personal
autonomy and freedom. I may have mischaracterized Mike's argument by
using the word "ensures," if so, apologies. My only issue with all of
this is that firearms may not be the most practical means to this end.

> I don't want this to devolve into a kneejerking match, but let me pose the
> same question I asked earlier in a slightly different form: what is the
> external cost of that left-for-dead fifteen year old girl?

It is beyond my ability to assign a monetary value to a human life.

Keith M. Elis
A/K/A Hagbard (to the initiated)