Author Topic: The most libertarian country in the world?  (Read 27010 times)

Antibubba

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Finch

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2007, 09:51:33 PM »
I think that an "absence" of government would resemble anarchy more that libertarian.
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Firethorn

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2007, 01:36:22 PM »
I think that an "absence" of government would resemble anarchy more that libertarian.

Agreed.  An ideally libertarian government has plenty of power in the limited areas that it has jurisdiction over.  It's just that it doesn't have jurisdiction over much.

The Rabbi

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2007, 03:51:27 AM »
Hmm, if this is what Libertarianism looks like, give me fascism any day....

Quote
Troops open fire on Somali media house

Reuters

September 18, 2007

    * Original Reuters article: Troops open fire on Somali media house Read the original story

By Aweys Yusuf and Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's independent Shabelle media house said government troops surrounded its Mogadishu office on Tuesday and opened fire at the building, wounding a security guard.

The interim government's relations with independent media houses have been rocky since it and its Ethiopian army backers routed an Islamist movement from the capital over the New Year.

Government officials declined to comment on the incident, which came after security forces arrested 18 staff at the broadcaster on Saturday.

"We do not know why they are targeting us," Shabelle acting manager Jafar Kukay told Reuters by telephone from the office.

"On Saturday, they said a grenade was thrown at them from the Shabelle building. But now I do not know what they want."

He said most of the staff had managed to flee the compound during a lull after two hours of shooting.

"We are now off-air. A security guard was wounded," he said.

Shabelle is involved in radio news, news websites and news photographs.

Islamist insurgents have been blamed for a series of roadside bombs, assassinations and suicide blasts since the government won back control, and top officials have accused local broadcasters of bias, stoking tension, backing terrorists and opposing the government.

Shabelle and two other independent outlets, HornAfrik and IQK Koranic Radio, were briefly banned and taken off air in January and June, prompting criticism from press watchdogs.

In the latest dispute, security forces stormed the Shabelle office in central Mogadishu on Saturday, taking 18 employees to a police station for questioning. They were later released.
  Rest of story here.
http://www.topix.net/content/reuters/2007/09/troops-open-fire-on-somali-media-house
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doczinn

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2007, 05:14:17 AM »
Notice that the government did that, and that all the positive welfare changes cites in the article are attributable to less or a total lack of government. Hmmm....

And of course, you would make more sense if anyone had claimed that government troops attacking the media is what libertarianism looks like.
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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2007, 05:29:20 AM »
So under Libertarian ideals gov'ts are empowered to bomb radio stations?
You also conveniently left out the random attacks by Islamic groups mentioned in the article as a beginning cause of the whole business.
As for the "benefits" I am reading a book right now called "How To Lie with Statistics" written in the 1950s.  I strongly suspect the book could shed a little light on what's been quoted in regard to this Libertarian Paradise.
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Len Budney

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2007, 05:48:39 AM »
So under Libertarian ideals gov'ts are empowered to bomb radio stations?

Under libertarian ideals, governments don't (or barely) even exist. when folks talk about Somalia in a positive light, they're noting that where the government isn't, things are better than in comparable government-controlled parts of Africa.

Nobody ever called it a paradise. Even using the phrase "libertarian paradise" is propagating a straw man. No libertarian, certainly no libertarian here, is a Utopian, and hence none of us believe in any "paradise," libertarian or otherwise. (Until Messiah comes, of course.)

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doczinn

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2007, 05:49:18 AM »
Quote
So under Libertarian ideals gov'ts are empowered to bomb radio stations?
Please shew to me where anyone claimed that, for I confess I am unable to discover it.

Quote
You also conveniently left out the random attacks by Islamic groups mentioned in the article as a beginning cause of the whole business.
I didn't leave anything out, because I didn't make any claims. However, the article makes a pretty good case that it is the ongoing effort to install a central government that causes violence in the first place. Even if that isn't so, you surely don't believe that if there were a central government the Islamists would cease attacking, or that an East African central government would be effective at stopping them?
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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2007, 06:27:14 AM »
Thats a straw man argument.
And an ad hominem.
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doczinn

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2007, 06:35:33 AM »
How so? You, in the context of whether or not government is a Good Thing, mention the Islamist attacks, and I dismiss them as irrelevant, since they'd have occurred with or without government but certainly weren't caused by any Libertarian government.

I just asked you a question, that's all. Do you believe that the Islamists would not attack in the presence of or would be prevented from attacking by a Somali central government?
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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2007, 07:25:23 AM »
That's really a hypothetical question, isn't it.  Because you haven't stipulated what kind of government and what kinds of attacks.
Let's phrase it differently: If Somalia had a strong stable government would Islamic bands be able to rove the countryside at will shooting up things and blowing stuff up?

The answer would be no, imo.
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Len Budney

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2007, 07:29:49 AM »
Let's phrase it differently: If Somalia had a strong stable government would Islamic bands be able to rove the countryside at will shooting up things and blowing stuff up? The answer would be no, imo.

I agree, there probably wouldn't. Then again, if the US had a strong stable government, would bands of armed men lay siege to a harmless bunch of religious cranks and incinerate the lot of them after a weeks-long standoff?  undecided

--Len.
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doczinn

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2007, 08:07:05 AM »
And what, exactly, are the chances of any central government in Somalia being a "strong, stable" one? Close to zero. So there's a false dichotomy there. It's not "current situation vs. strong stable central government" but "current situation vs. weak, instable, corrupt central government."
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Len Budney

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2007, 08:12:48 AM »
And what, exactly, are the chances of any central government in Somalia being a "strong, stable" one? Close to zero. So there's a false dichotomy there. It's not "current situation vs. strong stable central government" but "current situation vs. weak, instable, corrupt central government."

Sure. But when we look at one of these hellholes and say, "What they need is anarchy," we should at least realize that the statists are saying, "What they need is a strong, stable government," not, "What they need is a corrupt banana republic."

The debate exists because we each consider the other's wish to be unrealistic. That debate by its nature isn't empirical, and it won't be resolved by hypotheticals like, "If only they respected property rights," or, "If only they had more cops and a bicameral legislature."

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2007, 08:32:26 AM »
Let's phrase it differently: If Somalia had a strong stable government would Islamic bands be able to rove the countryside at will shooting up things and blowing stuff up? The answer would be no, imo.

I agree, there probably wouldn't. Then again, if the US had a strong stable government, would bands of armed men lay siege to a harmless bunch of religious cranks and incinerate the lot of them after a weeks-long standoff?  undecided

--Len.


That's an example of the problem with and the weakness of libertarianism  If you probe beneath the surface there's always some unresolved issue, some unanswered question.  It's usually blown off just the way you did, with an unrelated comparison to some government abuse.  But the original question remains unanswered.

I think libertarianism, like communism, sounds good in theory.  In libertarianism, there are no 'oppressive governments' to 'steal' tax money while 'manipulating' a free market.   Everyone is free to do as he wishes.  In communism the promise is 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'. No one does without.  That doesn't work either. Both systems make promises they can't keep because both require everyone maintain absolute (or near absolute) individual integrity.  That's not realistic.

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2007, 08:52:17 AM »
And what, exactly, are the chances of any central government in Somalia being a "strong, stable" one? Close to zero. So there's a false dichotomy there. It's not "current situation vs. strong stable central government" but "current situation vs. weak, instable, corrupt central government."

The chances of that were not part of the original question. So it's irrelevant.
But to answer it, there are certainly countries that meet those criteria, like Namibia.  So it isn't out of the realm of possibility. 
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Len Budney

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2007, 08:56:00 AM »
Let's phrase it differently: If Somalia had a strong stable government would Islamic bands be able to rove the countryside at will shooting up things and blowing stuff up? The answer would be no, imo.

I agree, there probably wouldn't. Then again, if the US had a strong stable government, would bands of armed men lay siege to a harmless bunch of religious cranks and incinerate the lot of them after a weeks-long standoff?  undecided

That's an example of the problem with and the weakness of libertarianism  If you probe beneath the surface there's always some unresolved issue, some unanswered question.

That's the problem with reality, not libertarianism. If you probe beneath the surface of anything, there are always unresolved questions.

Quote
It's usually blown off just the way you did, with an unrelated comparison to some government abuse.

That wasn't meant to be a blowoff. Discussions of liberty often end up with someone pointing out that, "in a libertarian society, X bad thing might happen." Sometimes the example is poorly thought out, and sometimes it's reasonable. But by itself it doesn't tell us whether liberty is a good or bad idea. The fact that liberty isn't Utopia seems damning only when we forget that none of the alternatives are Utopia either. Too often we're comparing real (and hence flawed) liberty with hypothetical (and hence perfect) government, and that's not a fair comparison.

So the point of my remark was to remind that the US isn't utopia either. Anarchy and the state both have defects. The real question is whether anarchy is worse than the state, or not. I argue not. My first reason for thinking that way is that anarchy never killed six million Jews, or ten million kulaks, or ran up ten trillion dollars in debt. Frankly, the bar isn't very high to be "better than the state."

Folks who disagree with market anarchy would cite Rwanda, or Somalia, or Burundi, and suggest that anarchy would look like that. You haven't done so, but I suspect that when you picture anarchy, that's more or less what you picture: the meltdown of civilization, and war of all against all. That's a valid concern and it deserves full attention, which is precisely why we do discuss things like current events in Somalia. The discussion is tangled, because anarchists blame the chaos on the Somali government and meddling foreigners, and statists blame it on the lack of Somali government.

Quote
I think libertarianism, like communism, sounds good in theory... Both systems make promises they can't keep because both require everyone maintain absolute (or near absolute) individual integrity.  That's not realistic.

I agree that communism only works if humans turn into angels. Libertarianism doesn't quite require that. It does require that most people be decent most of the time: that way, when someone does attempt to commit a crime, enough people will rally against him to put him down. If a majority fall behind the warlord, then we've either got Mogadishu, or the re-emergence of the state. The core question is, ARE most people decent?

Statists believe not. They basically believe that without police, Mafias and warlords and gangs would arise, and most people would join one faction or another and make war on the rest. They see most people as a threat, and they see government as the thin blue line protecting them from the "others" who act civilized only because they're forced to.

I believe that people are mostly decent, so I believe liberty can work. I believe that at any given time, very few people will be out there trying to kill and steal and rape, and an overwhelming majority stand ready to put them down.

On the other hand, my religion teaches me that man is sinful, so I'm torn on that question. In that case, anarchy might be hellish--but then again, if man is sinful, then the men in government are the most to be feared of all. So in that case I'd still say that anarchy would be less hellish, on average, than a statist society.

--Len.
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Euclidean

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2007, 08:28:18 PM »
Libertarianism has nothing to do with the articles posted earlier, and it doesn't present itself as perfect, just better than what we have now.

I'd like to add one thing to what Len said.  Libertarianism simply frees up the productive members of society to dominate society, and does more to punish those who contribute nothing or are even destructive.

As we examine our own society, we are coming to the realization that soon the number of people who live on government handouts will soon exceed those who produce those handouts.  How is this progressive, or morally defensible?  It is neither.

For as long as humans have existed, it's only been a tiny portion of the race which has significantly advanced the human condition in any given pursuit.  A relatively small, determined group of people or individual has been responsible for every major accomplishment or innovation.  The reason the majority of us can discuss this on this internet forum is because of a handful of technological innovators who came before.  You may argue that's still thousands of people who contributed, millions even, but the number of people who didn't contribute at all dwarfs them still.

If a small determined minority of people want something to happen, it will happen.  Society has always been carried on the backs of those who produce.

De Selby

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2007, 01:44:37 PM »
Libertarianism is mainly ideology-it's about what Euclidian just posted, being right or wrong and doing whatever the particular Libertarian thinks is morally defensible.

The problem is that an entire society cannot be reduced to "the few who produce" and "the many who leech."  It's more complicated than that, and vastly so.  Consequently, a simple moral analysis like "I make, so I shouldn't have to give!" cannot possibly lead to a rational evaluation of a government.

I think libertarians are right to point to the many government inefficiencies and injustices, but they miss the root of the problem.  It's accountability, not whether or not the agent doing the bad things carries a "public" or "private" label.  When any organization begins to do things that impact a population, yet isn't accountable to that population in any way, you will obviously get bad results.  So yeah, a government agency that is run by the unelected, whose employees are largely insulated from public rancor, will have no incentive to tailor its behavior to the needs of the public.  Likewise, a privately held group which faces no legal remedies, and answers to no boss other than the owner who is himself not liable to anything other than his own wishes, will not take care to avoid harming others.

"Human existence being an hallucination containing in itself the secondary hallucinations of day and night (the latter an insanitary condition of the atmosphere due to accretions of black air) it ill becomes any man of sense to be concerned at the illusory approach of the supreme hallucination known as death."

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2007, 05:28:54 PM »
Quote from: Len
That's the problem with reality, not libertarianism.
Thank you very much for that bit of humor.  I could not, in my wildest libertarian manic moments, have come up with the like.  It is truly beyond parody.

Despite my small-"L" libertarian sympathies, I can see the utopian nature of the libertarian project. 


Some wag once wrote that libertarian is the best ideology ever...if you don't have to account for children or foreign policy. 


"Reality does not accord with my theory, therefore reality is at fault!"


Doctrinaire libertarianism shares with marxsm a basic misunderstanding of human nature.
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Euclidean

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2007, 12:20:22 AM »
Likewise, a privately held group which faces no legal remedies, and answers to no boss other than the owner who is himself not liable to anything other than his own wishes, will not take care to avoid harming others.

But libertarians propose the opposite of that: private entities which are accountable via not only the free market, but also to a sovereign government who has control over them via the courts to enforce contracts and allow for those wronged to demand redress.  That is a proper function of the state.

Libertarianism isn't "no government" it's the concept of "limited government".  I personally see it as synonymous with "minarchism".

I'll say it again, a pure libertarian state may not be possible.  However we need to move closer to that direction and take research which points to the success of privatization and limited government more seriously.  If nothing else, it would curb the great majority of the current excesses of the state.

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2007, 02:34:14 PM »
Quote
When any organization begins to do things that impact a population, yet isn't accountable to that population in any way, you will obviously get bad results.

You simply quit buying their products and services.  Don't tell me that doesn't work - look at US auto makers vs the Japanese.

I haven't quite figured out yet how to stop "buying" the "services" forced upon me by federal, state, and local governments.
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De Selby

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2007, 03:19:44 PM »
Tallpine,

Sometimes it does work, sure.  But it's not always the consumers of the product who are impacted by the activities of the maker.  In that case, how do you get people to not buy?

Euclidean,

 What would you include in the category of things that give persons a "right to demand redress"?  That seems like it could be expanded to include pretty much everything that's currently done in the United States. 

Focusing on freedom of contract produces a lot of the problems we had with ruinous fraud and decidedly un-marketlike practices in the early 20th century.  Enforcing contracts does not solve problems of accountability like hiding information that would make people not enter into certain contracts, or using contracts that don't fairly protect both parties, etc etc.  These are things that you can in theory remedy with courts, but the expense and poor likelihood of a good resolution really would make the alternative of regulation (gasp!) very attractive.  It's much easier and more efficient, for example, to just require that food purveyors list the contents on the box, than it is to let people chemically test batches of food and then sue every time their "contract for cookies was breached by company x's sale of industrial chemicals in the shape of a cookie"



"Human existence being an hallucination containing in itself the secondary hallucinations of day and night (the latter an insanitary condition of the atmosphere due to accretions of black air) it ill becomes any man of sense to be concerned at the illusory approach of the supreme hallucination known as death."

Euclidean

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2007, 09:52:06 PM »
Euclidean,

 What would you include in the category of things that give persons a "right to demand redress"?  That seems like it could be expanded to include pretty much everything that's currently done in the United States. 

Focusing on freedom of contract produces a lot of the problems we had with ruinous fraud and decidedly un-marketlike practices in the early 20th century.  Enforcing contracts does not solve problems of accountability like hiding information that would make people not enter into certain contracts, or using contracts that don't fairly protect both parties, etc etc.  These are things that you can in theory remedy with courts, but the expense and poor likelihood of a good resolution really would make the alternative of regulation (gasp!) very attractive.  It's much easier and more efficient, for example, to just require that food purveyors list the contents on the box, than it is to let people chemically test batches of food and then sue every time their "contract for cookies was breached by company x's sale of industrial chemicals in the shape of a cookie"

The courts have handled disputes between parties for a long, long time.  That's what courts do.  You're right, there's an awful lot of possibilities.

I'll take your example and point out the possible tort committed to demonstrate to you that any matter of substance can be fixed in court, and then point out why that solution is better than government regulations.

Let's take labeling what's in a product such as a food or a medicine.  I agree, manufacturers should clearly label what's in them in many cases I can think of.  However I don't think it's much of a stretch at all that were a product not labeled in any way whatsoever, the maker could easily be found negligent in court.  For example someone allergic to peanuts eats something which a reasonable person wouldn't realize contains peanuts.  The maker of the product owed the plaintiff a duty of care, and by the standard of more likely than not, the plaintiff is guilty of neglecting that.

Now when that happens and that company loses, stare decisis starts to rear its ugly head and other attorneys use that case as either precedent or persuasive authority to keep winning cases for similar happenings.  Lo and behold, the manufacturers figure out "Gee we better start putting labels on this stuff so we have a leg to stand on in court", and pretty soon it becomes a widely adopted private regulation of various industries to list the contents of their products.

Now why is this better than regulations forcing those same companies to do the same?  Because the government is not as knowledgeable of industry and products as private competing entities are.  The trouble is when you have a government regulation, it's some politician's arbitrary standard of strictness which is applied.  The standards have little or nothing to do with logic, they are dictated by special interests and the popular opinion of the masses.  Classic example, Senator McCarthy who thinks a barrel shroud is something that goes on your shoulder and wants to ban them because the government has decided it can regulate firearms manufacturing.

Furthermore, even if the government standards were as good as what people in that industry could come up with if they were allowed to self regulate, then you get into a moral dilemma.  What if I for example never consume granola bars?  Why should I be forced to pay for the government to administer regulations on labeling the ingredients of granola bars on the box?  Why am I being forced at gunpoint to pay for a service I don't want and don't benefit from?  On top of that, the more we expand the government bureaucracy, the more it asserts itself in the interest of preserving its own existence, and the more money it sucks up.

A third problem is that once you have a government standard in place, people meet that standard and just stop because if they exceed it, they may be in violation of it.  There's no reason to try to innovate if there's a government standard in place.  Of course you could argue we could update the standards, but once again the government doesn't know as much about the product as the people who make it, and every change would be tainted by political agendas.

No, it is better that people who actually know something about the product in question determined how to list its contents on the packaging, or even if that's at all necessary.  It might not be (bottled water for instance).  We would get more accurate, relevant information from experts on the product, and not just the list of what the government thinks we need to know.  If something turns out to be an unforeseen problem that causes harm (which regulations wouldn't solve anyway), that's why we have courts.

Private, competitive expertise trumps politically motivated agendas pushed by less competent figures.  With a mechanism in place to address conflicts and problems, we've covered the unforeseen.  It's just that simple.

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Re: The most libertarian country in the world?
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2007, 10:18:49 PM »
Euclidean,

I see a few problems with your scenario.  The first is that tort, and all other forms of civil law, developed under conditions of extensive and far reaching state intervention, nearly to the extent of feudalism.  You do not get "duties" from the free market system, which tends to emphasize contracts-where agreement is primary, as opposed to duty.

You said:
Quote
Lo and behold, the manufacturers figure out "Gee we better start putting labels on this stuff so we have a leg to stand on in court", and pretty soon it becomes a widely adopted private regulation of various industries to list the contents of their products.
Now, with your specific example of a tort providing for labelling, you either have to have a law that allows the court to sanction the company beyond individual damages, or you have to accept that labelling won't always happen.  And here's why:

If, as is traditional, the individual can only sue for damages to himself...then you can get plenty of cases, peanut allergies being a good one, where the company will do a cost analysis that runs roughly like this:  "The cost of paying the 1 in a million person who will eat this and die is x.  The cost of labelling every product is x-1.  Therefore, it's cheaper to just pay damages to the few who are hurt by our packaging."

If you have a law that provides for damages beyond those incurred by the complainant, then you get exactly the same thing that a government agency does, regulation...except it's regulation by a judge who likely has zero expertise in the field, and will set damages and sanctions according to whatever he can vaguely divine from the briefs.  I can't imagine how that would be preferable to something like the FDA in any scheme.

Quote
The trouble is when you have a government regulation, it's some politician's arbitrary standard of strictness which is applied.  The standards have little or nothing to do with logic, they are dictated by special interests and the popular opinion of the masses. 

The politician's standard need not be arbitrary-if he's accountable to someone for bad decisions, he has every incentive to make good ones.  And the alternatives are either regulation by judge (eek!) or regulation by cost analysis...at which poitn the peanut allergy guy just has to die and leave the damages (if you have more government intervention in the form of survivor or wrongful death statutes, that is) to his heirs.


At times, I find the moral aspects of libertarianism I find more troubling than the practical ones.
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Why should I be forced to pay for the government to administer regulations on labeling the ingredients of granola bars on the box? 

Why should the rest of us be forced to respect your rights to property, and to invest resources in protecting them?  The answer is: because most people think that's a reasonable thing to demand of individuals in a society.  You could just as easily say: "Why should I be forced to pay for police that protect that guy's house, when he's not willing to pay for regulations that protect my health?".  It ultimately will boil down to what either of you think is a reasonable demand by society against individuals-and I think the best, if still imperfect, way to settle that is through representative institutions to provide for a consensus position.  That way, you can try to convince others that your right to property deserves resources while their rights to safety do not...but in the end, whatever most agree on will be made law.

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A third problem is that once you have a government standard in place, people meet that standard and just stop because if they exceed it, they may be in violation of it.  There's no reason to try to innovate if there's a government standard in place.

Well, if there's a market, there is certainly incentive to exceed standards.  This is an example of how government regulations can provide a baseline, so that products compete on features other than "may not be as likely to kill you as the other guy's product!"  I think there's at least a good case to be made that more innovation comes from those conditions, since consumers can worry about things other than complete fraud in their purchases.

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Private, competitive expertise trumps politically motivated agendas pushed by less competent figures.  With a mechanism in place to address conflicts and problems, we've covered the unforeseen.  It's just that simple.

The problem is that private expertise has to be paid for-so it won't necessarily benefit the public in every case.  The experts will be accountable to their incomes, not to the public.  And you also have the problem of the commons, where it's in no individual person's interest to pay for that kind of expertise...but would benefit everyone were everyone to contribute to the pot.   Which is exactly what government achieves by demanding payments.

No, government and state run programs are not the answer to everything, and they screw many things up.  But there are some things that the market does not do well...hence the reason for the prosperity of America.  We've got a pretty decent balance.
"Human existence being an hallucination containing in itself the secondary hallucinations of day and night (the latter an insanitary condition of the atmosphere due to accretions of black air) it ill becomes any man of sense to be concerned at the illusory approach of the supreme hallucination known as death."