Notes: Problems with Libertarianism

David Friedman gave a talk Problems with Libertarianism: Hard Problems (and how to avoid them).

  1. What rights do you have against a criminal?
    If your only right is to re-claim the stolen property, then at-worst the thief breaks even.
    To what extent can we meter out determent punishment.
    What’s the factor of retribution, why 2x? not 3x or 1.5x?
    What if you only catch 1/10th of the thieves? Then 10x?
      But that pushing the guy caught for the crimes of those not caught.
      Also, the number of people caught is a function of how much spent to try to catch.
    What if a mistake is made? How much trouble to avoid making them?
  2. What are you entitled to do to defend your rights?
    Capital punishment for petty theft?
  3. Human shield problem.
    Can you shoot back, and risk killing the innocent shield?
    Can the voluntary defense fund aim nuclear weapons at Moscow?
    Possibly killing innocent victims (more so than you) of the Soviet Union?
    Bad guys aren’t libertarian, and don’t care about trespassing when advancing their troops.
    If it’s acceptable to place run roughshod over innocents in attacking the aggressor, then it’s acceptable to draft.
  4. Absolute property rights.
    Trespassing photons across absentee-held land.
    You think they don’t damage, but I, the owner, gets to decide that.
    Allow you to breath in, but not out, because I don’t like the CO2.
  5. Distribute the risk of injury should I crash my airplane?
    I get the benefit of flight, at cost to you without your permission.
  6. Property in land, not derived from owning self+labor.
    I could walk across before you build up the house and path, so my use is not in conflict with your labor.
  7. Very large part of land in the world is stolen.
  8. Public good problem.
    If something is desirable, then market will provide. Can only say Maybe.
    def: good that producer cannot control who gets it, ex: radio broadcast
    Combine the good (pos value to customer + pos cost of production) with another public good (neg value to customer + neg cost of production), ex: adverts
    What about national defense? (defense against nations) Hard to stop missile in flight by determining if target has paid for defense.
    Is answer to aggress the funds, or to surrender?
    soln: Assuming problem doesn’t exist.
    Soviets have no interest in attacking, only have tanks to prevent us from doing so.
    soln: Somewhere there’s a proof that market will provide.
    Nobody’s found it.
    soln: It’s a lifeboat problem.
    Still have to find the answer, we do live on a spaceship after all.
    soln: The is-ought dichotomy.
    But then in some way you’re defending the ability to do whatever is necessary.
    soln: Pooling money.
    The good is worth X but whether I spend is only a fraction of the funds and I receive the benefits regardless.
  9. Privatizing the government property.
    soln: sell it. But if government doesn’t own it, what right have they to sell it?

You can also avoid the problems by changing the subject.