On Friday, PepsiCo announced a lawsuit against four Indian farmers. Their “crime”? Growing a special type of potato without permission.
By Josh Hughes | United States
Most libertarians believe that, to an extent, the “free market” is superior to the government. But is this really true? Can private enterprises and consumers completely and voluntarily fund the services that are enjoyed today? If so, are they capable of producing such services at a more efficient and cost-effective rate? The answer, in theory, is always yes.
Can the Market Do Everything That Government Can?
Think of any service that is offered by the government. There are dozens, ranging from something as simple as the post office and sanitation services, to more complex and serious things such as domestic and foreign defense. Simple, everyday tasks that people are accustomed to being carried out by government employees can just as easily be done in the private sector. Private schools, for example, perform the same job as public schools but are done through completely voluntary means. In many instances, the quality of education is higher as well.
But some services just can’t be provided by the free market, right? Many cite defense and legal dilemmas as areas that need government control or interference. This simply just is never necessary. An example that many are fond of is illustrated by Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr. in his anarcho-capitalist manifesto, Against the State. In it, one is asked to consider for a moment that shoes have been provided to children until the age of 18 by the government for as long as anyone can remember. Since society has become so used to this, and the market has never had the ability to compete, one naturally finds it foolish to question the government’s provision here. It can be assumed that many people would actually become quite defensive when the question of “Can the market do it better?” arises.
This is the case with every single service society enjoys. People don’t consider how the market and private individuals can better provide a service because it’s never been attempted.
“But Who Will Build the Roads?”
This is a challenge often brought up when taxation or government abolition is brought up. The answer is simple. The same individuals that politicians contract will build the roads. Your neighbors and peers who are civil engineers and construction workers will still build the roads. “But who will pay for it?” Private citizens will still fund the projects, just as they already do now. Instead of the violent coercion the government forces, however, it will be in the form of voluntary transactions such as tolls or user fees. Domestic defense will still be provided by private individuals, except now instead of an all-powerful police force, it will be a subscription to a privately regulated enterprise. This is true for everything. It will all be paid for and provided by the same individuals that pay for and provide it now, only this time it will be done voluntarily in the form of subscriptions, user fees, and tolls. No more will you be forced to give your hard-earned money to an agency of men in Washington, D.C. that decide where they feel it will be best spent. In the ideal society, you the individual know where to spend your money best.
Another question often raised is “What happens when a company establishes a monopoly over a service, then proceeds to extort its users?” This is a very tough, but solvable, dilemma. An answer would be responsibility of the market. Individuals must not be put in the situation where they can be exploited and must provide competing services themselves. If this is unavailable, then the market must pressure the monopoly and force them to either break up or not extort consumers by refusing the monopoly and its workers service. The market will always regulate itself.
“What happens when a business decides to discriminate against a group of people, whether on the basis of race, religion, gender, or orientation?” In this instance, individuals and the market will again regulate itself. Minorities are more empowered today than they have ever been before. Through advances in technology, avenues such as social media and sites like Yelp will spread the decisions of businesses. Say, for example, a restaurant refuses service to an African-American woman because of her race. She can then go to Instagram or Twitter and share her experience, where it can then be seen by thousands of people. The business will suffer the consequences, as now people will refuse to go there and instead opt to go to a restaurant that serves all people.
Another main issue is environmental regulations. The EPA currently sets the standards for businesses to follow when it comes to regulations, but without a government, who will do that for us? Again, the answer is the market. Similar to the case of monopolies, other businesses and individuals will set sanctions against or boycott companies that practice in ways that are detrimental to the environment. This pressure will force the companies to change their ways or to shut down.
The Market Will Prevail
If you’ve paid attention, you have noticed that the same phrase has been repeated many times. “The free market will solve the issue.” This is the main philosophy behind most libertarian thought. The free market will solve any and every issue, and can better perform every service offered by the government. The untouched market has competition whereas the government is a monopoly. The market has drive and incentives while the government is lazy and incompetent. The market is voluntary and free, a stark contrast against the government who is coercive and aggressive. The market can and will solve every problem presented to society without the need of the government.
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Austin Anderholt | USA
Whenever I try to convince someone that taxation (and therefore government) is theft, I find the process is quite easy: I explain to them how a group of people with bigger guns than everyone else call themselves “The Government” demand that you pay them a certain amount of money that you never agreed upon, or else they will threaten to lock you in a cage. The debate may last a few minutes or even hours, but I eventually can convince most people that government is bad and that taxation is theft. At this point, almost every single person says the same exact thing: “But without government, who would build the roads?” Sometimes they ask how other government projects would be handled, but for some reason, most people seem to inquire about roads first. Nonetheless, people are amazed that one could hold the opinion that people shouldn’t be allowed to lock you in a cage if you don’t pay them the money that they demand. They treat anarchism like a bad word. They assume that a stateless society would be like some sort of Hollywood movie they’ve seen, and this view is completely false.
To the masses that have spent their lives on the highly addictive sedative that we call “The Government”, it may seem crazy that people could build roads and complete other tasks without someone pointing a gun at them and stealing from them. There’s a great political comic here, that shows people standing in a breadline in the Soviet Union, starving away. One of them says, “In Capitalist countries, the government doesn’t hand them any bread!” The people in that comic couldn’t possibly imagine a successful world where bread is distributed through capitalism and a voluntary society. This is very similar to the blindness that the current public has about things that the government does. For example, on the issue of Net Neutrality: Net Neutrality didn’t even exist until 2015. Do you remember a time where you had to pay money to big scary corporations to access all websites on the internet before 2015? Me neither, but the drug of government is so powerful that it’s victims start to assume that “If we don’t have someone controlling how we live, the greedy corporations will make it too expensive to pay for anything!” This is entirely false. Companies have to cater to the individual, or else they will fail. If I owned McDonalds, and I started charging a million dollars per hamburger, everyone would stop buying from me, and my company would fail. This is common sense; if companies want to be on top, they have to compete with each other for the lowest prices and best goods/services, in order to ensure that they’ll get repeat customers. No company would ever charge a huge toll for roads or internet or any other good or service you can think of, or else another company could just sell it for a cheaper price, and therefore get more business. Companies must cater to the customer to survive, and the idea of these “greedy corporations” is just plain false.
That being said, have you ever driven on a private road before? I’m sure you have. Did you have to pay a greedy corporation a huge toll to drive on it? Probably not. In fact, many toll roads are government roads. So, how would roads work? In one scenario, you have businesses competing for the cheapest road prices. Many of them might implement different policies, such as, “Our roads are safer because we don’t allow drunk driving” or, “Our roads are cheaper because we only make you pay one small price forever!” This would make roads extremely efficient, and it has worked in the past: The first American railroad was privately owned and built. Let’s say you were really afraid of these non-existent greedy corporations, and you didn’t want them owning your roads. You could crowdfund for monetary donations to build a road that you let everyone go on for free. It would be like taxation, but completely voluntary and with a significant lack of cages.
With that in mind, privatization would help everyone a great deal. Prices would shoot down for things like healthcare, education, and whatnot. Currently, we live in a system where the government has a forced monopolies on those items, and they can demand any amount of money they want for it. Due to this, they can be wasteful and inefficient, but private companies wouldn’t have that option. However, let’s say there’s a family that’s struggling to get by in a stateless economy, and they can’t afford these items. There are tons of huge private charities that are fighting to end things such as hunger and to give free checkups, showers, meals, etc. to people who are in need. Once taxation stops existing, and people’s paychecks aren’t being slashed in half, can you imagine how increasingly generous people would be in donating to these huge causes? Private charity for people in need would skyrocket!
In conclusion, a stateless society would thrive. As we’ve seen through times like the prohibition, public school, and the Middle East, government intervention almost indefinitely makes things worse. Private companies and charities will do much more good than anything currently being accomplished. A voluntary society is a better society!