This video so wonderfully captures the inherent fallacies in the arguments used to support government – of all forms – but especially democracies. Two of the most flawed and pervasive myths about the necessity of government are the “we’re the government” and “without government bad people would be in charge.” Both are destroyed so clearly by the little green man.
What the video doesn’t touch on, and where many see the problem with Freedom, is the answer to the question: “where would roads, defense, and arbitration come from, if not the government?”
In short, these goods would come from where they always did – the market – before governments usurped the people and instituted monopolies on them. Not only can the market provide each of these, it can do so more efficiently. This is because firms have incentives to provide the highest quality at the lowest price.
Roads need not be a so-called “public good.” In many cases they are not considered public at all. Take for instance many parking garages, the streets of a private community, or California’s private freeway built in the median of Highway 91. As for cost, this need not be an issue, even for large projects. There were private railways that took no government money at all and did much better than those companies which did accept subsidies. Without a government monopoly, individuals and firms would compete for the business of motorists. The safest, fastest, best maintained road companies would thrive.
It is an outright lie that we cannot function without vesting a monopoly on the use of violence in one organization: the government police forces. The very idea that one group should be allowed to exert force on others is morally dubious in the first place. The reality of the police is that, rather than protect individuals and their property, their first duty is the protection of the government. As the Supreme Court has ruled, individuals have no inherent right to police protection.
In response to this, the market has provided a whole industry of private security firms to defend private property. Citing a study by The Economist, Robert Higgs showed that three times as many private security officers were employed in the U.S. More than twice as much is spent voluntarily on private security than is collected in taxes. Eliminating entire police departments doesn’t lead to chaos either, as any citizen from Oak Hill, FL or Mount Sterling, OH will surely attest.
William Norman Grigg noted that due to budget constraints, both towns abolished in full their police departments. It is true that county sheriffs are now responsible to oversee the towns, but this raises an interesting question: why the redundancy? Why, if the sheriff’s department is adequate, would the towns have need for another government police force?
As for arbitration services, this vital service need not be monopolized either. Absent the current monopoly, private courts would spring up. And just as with virtually everything else the market does, private courts would be more efficient. There would be a powerful incentive for arbiters to provide low-cost, transparent, and equitable judgments. Corruption and biases would be more easily corrected for, considering that once it was revealed a particular judge or arbitration firm acted inappropriately, consumers could hire another.
It is a fiction that civilization would collapse without the state. Just the opposite, in fact. Society would flourish in the absence of a coercive body.