Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A thought about Libertarianism

I was reading a series called Monster Hunter International.  One of the interesting themes in the book is that a private corporation (the Monster Hunters) are doing a better job than the government at dealing with the creatures of the night.  The books are extremely well written escapism and I definitely enjoy reading them.

But I noticed one interesting element.  Despite the dislike of the government by the monster hunters, the business plan requires the government to offer extremely large bounties (often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) to hunters who kill a monster.

So this hyper-libertarian scheme only works when the government is willing to infuse it with cash.  I notice that the same thing was true of the Old West -- another libertarian example.  Here the government offered resources through mechanisms like the homestead act.

This does two things.  One, the increase in resources makes hard work extremely rewarding.  Coal miners ended up in Unions despite huge amounts of hard work.  That is because a life-time of hard work results in few rewards ("another day older and deeper in debt").  In the homestead scenario, hard work leads to a land-based legacy for one's family.

Two, this makes it viable to simply move on.  If your neighbors are insufferable then you can just try your luck somewhere else.  Look at how frequently western figures like Wyatt Earp moved around the West.  If you can just set up stake somewhere else, leaving is easy.

So maybe this philosophy is better in good times?  I wonder if we'd worry about inequality, for example, if wages were rising for all social classes?

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