Lack of Imagination

3 05 2010

In online discussions lately, I’ve often seen people make the point that there are some services that we need the government to provide. They believe that either the market can’t or won’t provide those services, or that if it did, only the rich would be able to afford them.

These people are severely lacking in imagination.

Let’s take the example of police and fire services. These unimaginative people picture a world where your house is burning down, and you have to call the fire department and provide a credit card number, and if you don’t have the money, well, better grab your garden hose and start spraying. If you got mugged, you’d REALLY be screwed because you wouldn’t have your wallet to pay the cop to go after the mugger!

But let’s see if we can come up with some better ways that police and fire services might be provided without government involvement.

For small communities, they might be provided on a voluntary basis. Volunteer fire departments still exist all over the country.

For larger communities, this wouldn’t be practical, so instead you would have a number of private, competing agencies providing these services. They could provide them on an as-needed basis, but more likely, you’d buy police and fire protection in the same way you buy insurance now. Homeowners and renters insurance policies might bundle them as part of their packages. Or maybe if you’re part of an HOA, they could contract with these agencies on your behalf and they’d be included in the HOA fees. Certainly owners of rental properties would want to have these services available to protect their investment.

The beauty of the market is that it tends to provide innovative and creative solutions in ways that are often difficult to foresee. I think that the possibilities that I’ve briefly described provide viable alternatives to what we have now, and should at least suggest that the market can provide these essential services.

As for only the rich being able to afford them, I’d like to point out that we’re all paying for those things now – even those people who don’t directly pay income taxes still pay for these services indirectly in one way or another. But there is no reason to think that privatizing these services wouldn’t reduce the overall cost that is paid for them, and thus actually make them more affordable for everyone.

Maybe next time, I’ll go into why we don’t need the FDA, FAA, FTC, etc. Although if people use their imagination, perhaps I won’t need to.

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2 responses

3 05 2010
Eric

Sounds like Hans Hermann Hoppe’s line of thinking, which struck me hard the first time I read it.

Whenever people jerk their knees and recommend a governmental solution for a problem, you instantly know that they have no creativity and would rather take the lazy path of clubbing a problem with the silliest fix ever concocted.

Keep the posts coming.

3 05 2010
myopicrhino

I’m a big fan of Hoppe. His reasoning just resonates with me.

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